Epson America (800/463-7766, http://www.epson.com ), which until now has dominated the Macintosh ink-jet printer market, is about to get its stiffest competition in years. Hewlett-Packard (800/552-8500, http://www.hp.com ) has announced a new ink-jet printer, the $399 DeskJet 970C, that appears to offer a breakthrough in speed and image quality. But Epson has its own response, with the $429 Stylus Color 900G, an iMac-inspired version of the Stylus Color 900.HP's Challenge
The DeskJet 970C prints at 600 dpi, but HP's color-layering technology increases the apparent resolution to 2,400 by 1,200 dpi for printing images on photo paper. Although it's only a four-color printer, the HP's photo-output samples are impressive; the images appear to rival the best photo output of Epson's six-color ink-jet models.
The DeskJet 970C is also fastHP claims maximum color output of 10 pages per minute in draft mode. In its highest-quality mode, HP says, the DeskJet 970C can produce a full-page color photo in about three minutes. Although it does not feature an iMac-inspired industrial design, it does break from the standard beige designs of HP's earlier ink-jet printers. Other features include a print-cancel button, a low-ink indicator, and automatic two-sided printingthe latter a first for low-cost ink-jet printers.
The DeskJet 970C has a USB port for connection to iMacs or blue-and-white G3 systems, but no serial port for older Macs. Hewlett-Packard expects to ship the printer by the time you read this.Epson Responds
Epson's Stylus Color 900Ga blueberry version of the previously announced Stylus Color 900 (see Reviews , June 1999)offers the same maximum 10-ppm print speed as the DeskJet 970C.
Judging from Epson's samples, photo output from the four-color printer looks just as impressive as the HP DeskJet 970C's output. USB and serial interfaces are built in; Epson also offers Ethernet, LocalTalk, and PostScript 3 options. The printer is expected to ship by the time you read this.
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