SUMMARY: color printers

From: Clif Kussmaul (
Date: Fri Mar 27 1992 - 14:26:08 CST

I recently posted a request for opinions on color printers. This is a
summary of responses, as well as other relevent material I've found. I've
done a bit of editing to condense things, but it's still pretty long. If
anyone has further comments, suggestions, etc., please let me know. -Clif

My original request (part of a multi-part question):

>>Similarly, we're thinking about getting a color printer for producing hard
>>copy. We've looked a bit at color printers by Tektronic and CalComp (as
>>well as an HP PaintJet :-); I'd be interested in hearing about other
>>people's experiences with various models/brands. What are you happy with?
>>What do you have and would never recommend?

Jim Michael ( responded:

> We have a Tektronix 4693DX Color Image Printer, and have been using it
>regularly for about a year. It works well, and the prints (it also makes
>transparencies) look good. I would only give you one caution, which may no
>longer be relevant: we got our 4693 with an "Icon" board as the hardware
>interface to our Sun 4/390, but I would recommend another option, the Tektronix
>4511 Network Interface. The 4511 acts like another ethernet node, and you
>simply add it to your /etc/hosts file (this may be done automatically when the
>software is installed). When we were doing the installation for our 4693DX,
>Tektronix was phasing out the Icon interface, so it may no longer be an option
>for you. I hope this helps.

Michael van Elst ( responded:

> In our group we have an AGFA slidewriter, a Sony 'Mavigraph' video printer,
>a HP Paintjet XL and a Mitsubishi S340-10 thermo-sublimation printer.
> The AGFA is used for presentations where we have time enough for sending
>the film to a photograph. It gives the best results for this kind of output.
> The video printer can generate quick paper hardcopies of low-resolution
>images. It was used quite heavily before we purchased the S340. It is a
>'true' color printing system in that it can output 256 shades of red,green/,
>blue (although the video system it is connected to can only produce
>256 different colors out of 16Million).
> The HP Paintjet XL is too expensive for paper printouts and because it
>has to dither produces inferior results than our other systems. However,
>it is sufficient for producing transparencies. For quick presentations
>it is very useful since despite the bad results on paper it gives the
>best results on film (except for slides), but sometimes you don't have
>the time for the photograph.
> The S340-10 is a 150dpi DINA4 true color printer. It is used for camera-ready
>printouts in publications.
>Prices for the above systems are:
>$13000 for the Slide writer
>$4000 for the video printer (there are cheaper versions with lower quality!)
>$2000 for the Paintjet
>$10000 for the S340.
>Cost per 'printout':
>$0.25 per slide on the AGFA.
>$2.50 per video printout.
>$6.00 per full size image on the Paintjet (major cost is ink)
>$6.00 per A4 sheet on the S340.

In a post to comp.periphs.printers by Brett Chapman (

> We have considered the Tektronix Phaser IIIPXi. This looks o.k.,
>but is not the best. Printing is somewhat slow. This becomes a factor,
>when I start to think about the fact that some people will want 30 copies
>of a page(s) for a presentation or manual. We do not have a color copier.
> I have also considered the Cannon Color Copier alternative. They
>now have a PostScript interpreter available. This sounds like a good
>solution, because it offers the ability to make copies and print. This
>is a faily expensive solution, however.

In a summary post to comp.periphs.printers regarding magazine articles on
color printers, by Behrooz Tofighrad (

>MacWorld April 1992 - COLOR PRINTER PROGRESS - 10 PAGES
>There's a review of color postscript printers (thermal wax printers,
>mainly, in the $6K to $10K) in the Nov. 26, 1991, issue of PC Magazine.
>You might want to try Byte October 1991 which discusses various printer
>technologies (including color). Includes some discussion of Canon and
>Tektronix color printers.
>"Update: Color Printing Technologies", SYSTEMS INTEGRATION, Aug91.
>"Color Printers: Sorting through the Spectrum", Presentation Products, Oct91.
>"Non-Impact Printers Pack a Wallop", Computer Technology Review, Aug91.
>"Business Color Output", Desktop Communications, Sep/Oct90.
>We looked at five different printers and are happiest with the Tektronix
>Phaser II. The newer Phaser III is a B-size printer which is great for
>everything EXCEPT Over-Head Transparancies.
>All of the other printers had major drawbacks in terms of cost, ease of
>loading media, PostScript interpreter, etc. Magazine reviews that I have
>read are very disappointing. They all like everything, especially their
>advertiser's products.
>Some brands to look at in addition to Tek are QMS, Calcomp, and Seiko.

In yet another c.p.p post by FNOTMAN@ESTEC.BITNET:

> We've just taken on a Phaser III with "all the bits". It wasn't cheap either.
>YES, it is VERY slow. Draft mode is NOT good, so you'd have (at least) to use
>medium quality, and that's 4 minutes per page. Top quality is 8 minutes.
> Pros :- Can print upto FULL (using oversize paper) A3
> - Does print on PLAIN paper.
> - MUCH cheaper medium (ink as well as paper) costs than Phaser 3.
> Cons :- VERY slow.
> - If it falls asleep (5 days or switch off)-takes 15-20 mins to wake up.
> - Slightly worse quality than Phaser II
> Phaser II is ONLY A4 (using aversize paper for full length).
> Pros :- Much faster that PX III, about 75 seconds I think.
> - Slightly better quality.
> - Always ready.
> - 60% cost of Phaser III.
> Cons :- VERY high media costs.
> - Still a bit on slow side.
> - ONLY uses A4 (Oversize)
> Cannon. This IS a Photocopier, not a printer, to which a PostScript interface
> has been added. It comes in 2 flavours, based on what usage you
> envisge.
> Pros :- Good Quality.
> - Fast
> - Low media costs (IF you reach the maintenance mettering level of the
> contract).
> - A3 or A4
> - It IS a Photocopier as well. It also has a dinky little digitiser so
> you can expand/contract and window (with a "pen") what you want to
> copy
> Cons :- It's BIG.
> - USes standard A4 and A3 (NOT oversize) so small bounding loss.
> - Yes, it's expensive.

In a response to the above by David Lau-Kee (

>A lower cost solution might be the Canon CLC-10. This was introduced at
>CeBIT earlier this month, and is a desktop colour bubblejet photocopier
>with a SCSI connection (via the IPU-10). I don't know the price in the US,
>but I guess it will be somewhere around $10k (yes that's right, $10k for a
>colour scanner/photocopier/printer). It's "plug&play" in Mac / Win3
>environments, but there should be no great problem with using it as
>a network device in a mixed Mac/PC/Sun environment.

I called several manufacturers and asked for literature, sample output, and
prices on various color printers. In my summary here, I focus on the color
capabilities of each. I've tried to list the same info for each machine,
but it wasn't always available. When listing multiple machines by a vendor,
I only list differences for successive machines. How the output included with
sales brochures compares with actual output is anybody's guess.
        (PS = PostScript, mpp = minutes/page)

Calcomp ColorMaster Plus 6603PS: (1-800-932-1212)
        thermal transfer, PS, 300dpi, 1mpp, 8.5x11, $5.5k list.
        nice output on transparency and glossy paper.
        most complete brochures.
        Cost per copy: $0.50 on paper, $1.30 on transparency.
Calcomp ColorMaster Plus 6613PS:
        11x17, $10k list.

Hewlett Packard DeskJet 500C: (1-800-752-0900)
        inkjet, HPPCL3, 300dpi, 4 mpp, 8.5x14, no pricing.
        nice brochure, no sample output, rated for 160 color pages/month.

QMS ColorScript 100 30i: (1-800-523-2696)
        thermal transfer, PS, HPGL emulation, 11x17, $10k list.
        decent output, rated for 5000 page/month.
QMS ColorScript 100 10p:
        Postscript, 8.5x11, $6k list.

Tektronix PhaserII PXi: (1-800-835-6100)
        thermal-transfer, PS 2, HPGL, 300dpi, 1 mpp, 8.5x14, $8k list.
        nice output on glossy and heavy papers.
        (nice brochure on justifying purchase of a color printer :-)
Tektronix PhaserIII PXi:
        2 mpp, 11x17, $10k list.
There was a Calcomp 6613 demo at Dartmouth a few weeks ago at which I printed
a few pages and was impressed by the colors, though it seemed pretty slow. If
I had to make a decision now, I'd probably go with Calcomp or Tektronix.

That's it. Anyone with further comments or suggestions please send them to
me - if there's further interest I will summarize as appropriate. Thanks
to all who responded!

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