From: Claude-Marie Sauve (claudie@CANR.Hydro.Qc.CA)
Date: Wed May 20 1992 - 20:58:20 CDT

A little while back, I asked information on the reliability of the QMS PS-2000 vs the DEC turboPRINTSERVER 20 (LPS20-GA).

I would like to thank everyone who responded: (Lambert Hofstra) (Donald J. Repetto) ( Brian Kelley ) (Charles Ball)
nagel@Cigna.COM (Mark Nagel) (Frank P. Bresz)

You will find their comments hereby attached.

I did some testing on both printers. QMS had a printer sent over to our facilities in order to test it in our environement (sun servers and stations and a cray). I tested the DEC printer over at their facilities in Montreal using a VMS environement. So the only comparison valuable is the actual printing time.Here are four examples:

        - For a text-only 8 1/2 X 11 23 pages (350 Kb) postscript document:
                PrintServer 20 : 1.06.05 min
                PS-2000: 1.10.40 min

        - For a graphic-only 8 1/2 X 11 11 pages (355 Kb) postscript document:
                PrintServer 20 : 29.96 sec
                PS-2000: 17.01 sec

        - For a graphic-only 11 X 17 12 pages (329 Kb) postscript document:
                PrintServer 20 : 53.90 sec
                PS-2000: 53.17 sec

        - For a graphic-only 8 1/2 X 11 12 pages (223 Kb) tektronix document:
                PrintServer 20 : 1.11.24 min
                PS-2000: 34.64 sec

Interresting things to know:

        - The printServer 20 has only 29 basic postscript fonts as where the PS-2000 has the standard 35. As Charles Ball pointed out, not having the 35 could cause problems in printing documents issued with text processing packages such as Frame or Interleaf.(we use both)

        - The PS-2000 does not support Tektronix emulation. Tek files can be printed using a "converter" such as tek2ps.

        - The PS-2000 comes with optional additionnal storage such as 40 or 120 Mb disk. You have to be aware that at least a 40 MB disk is required if you are to use a ethernet interface. DEC suggests to have space reserved for the printer on a server.

        - The PrintServer "paperjammed" 3 times in the 4 hours I was using it at Digital. The printer is very sensitive to the side you put paper in. The PS-20000 "paperjammed" only once in the testing period of 2 weeks(has not jammed in the last month).

>From the different advices given it would appear that each printer can cause head aches although the general concensus seems to be that the PS-2000 is faster and probably easier to use in a sun only environment. Actually, price wise the QMS printer comes in a bit cheaper even with the 120 Mb disk and the ethernet option.

Once again thanks to the people who took the time to respond.

Claude-Marie Sauve

The original message:

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Dear sun managers,

I have recently seen a "comparative study" of different printers. I no it is not a question for this group but I am desperatly seeking information comparing the two printers:

        DEC turbo PRINTERSERVER 20
        QMS PS-2000

I have got to decide(pretty fast) which one to buy and would be interrested in knowing about their reliability.

Thanks in advance

Claude-Marie Sauve

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We (our company) have tested a QMS PS-2000, and i was impressed by its'
speed. The PS2000 has a MIPS R3000 processor, and is (one of) the
fastest POSTSCRIPT printers i know. It's definitely faster than a DEC
PRINTSERVER 20, which has a CVAX chip as it's processor. As far as i
know, these are the only differences: the printer engine is the same in
both printers. The only problem we encountered was a problem in the
clock circuitry on the processor board, they knew the problem exists,
and after they reeplaced the board, everything worked flawlessly. QMS
has a DECnet, and a TCP/IP ethernet interface, and software for these
interfaces on the host. Installs without problems on VAXes and SUN.

Lambert Hofstra

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Hi, my name is Donald Repetto and I work at GE in Binghamton, NY. We purchased two QMS PS-2000 printers last year and basically are pretty satisfied with them. We had some very bad startup problems with them that continued until we finally received a new version of motherboard and ethernet controller card firmware. That cleared up most of our problems, however, we still have a few very minor annoyances that haven't been fixed by QMS.

Overall the reliability of the printers has been pretty good. We push a lot of paper through them (about 30K pages per month each) and they have been holding their own. We still have occasional problems printing very large files (in the thousands of pages) but the users have adjusted to it by printing only portions of their documents at a time.

Back when we purchased the printer we asked QMS and DEC to do a benchmark for us. The results were for the same 32 page postscript file QMS=1 minute, 30 seconds, DEC=2 minutes, 37 seconds.

If I was going to purchase another printer this year I would probably purchase another PS2000, although I would give DEC a shot at the business and see who did the best price-wise.

Good Luck,

Donald Repetto (607) - 770 - 2391

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you're in luck today! I have worked with both the Printserver 20 and QMS PS-2000. I haven't worked with the PS-2000 since October '91. I last worked with the Printserver 20 roughly May of '91.

We had just a plain Printserver 20, I believe. I don't recall any "turbo" designation. The CPU in the printer was a lowly MicroVAX. The print engine was excellent (though we did have one paper jam which had to be cleared by DEC - no way to do it without taking it apart (I could have done it, but that's what service contracts are for - besides, it was on loan)). The DEC printer was SLOW. The engine was pretty quick, but the MicroVAX CPU was a total dog. The DEC TCP/IP printer interface was more or less a proprietary black box. It was poorly documented and a pain to setup. There were problems when moving to new versions of Ultrix.

We purchased the PS-2000 when they were fairly new. We took delivery July of '91, as I recall. This printer has a MIPS R3000 CPU and is very fast. The performance was excellent. However, QMS needs to get their act together in regard to software and hardware testing. The PostScript implementation on the QMS is excellent.

We mainly drove our PS-2000 via TCP/IP. QMS's implementation is pretty slick and yet very simple. Files are sent to the printer via FTP. Their host software does this using a print filter. You can ftp to the printer and get status ind job info. If you 'put' a file into a certain directory, it will get printed and removed. The FTP TCP/IP system is much, much better than DEC's.

The QMS did have problems. The printer would sometimes stop responding to connection requests and would have to be power-cycled. This problem continued for a long time and was rather serious for our site. QMS tried to help (the local office finally traded printers with us in an effort to isolate the problem - that didn't fix it - it was a firmware problem common to all PS-2000s). While QMS tried to help, they didn't try hard enough in my opinion. We chose that printer as our main company-wide printing solution, and sometimes it would just die as a result of a bug which existed in all of the PS-2000s. I feel they it would have been in our mutual best interest to camp engineers (not printer repair people) at our site to baby sit the beast until they identified the problem (I suspect they had to have diagnostic software that they could have used on site to try and isolate the problem). I just spoke with someone who still works with that printer, and they tell me that the problem with the printer dropping offline has been pretty much solved.

The printer also has trouble printing job types other than PostScript. QMS has a "feature" called ESP which is supposed to detect the type of printjob being submitted and print it in the correct way (PCL, HPGL and PostScript, mainly). This "feature" is more of a bug. ESP is pathetic and you shouldn't plan on using it. I had a trivial shell script do the what ESP was meant to do and it worked. QMS tries to play ESP off using the "artificial intelligence" and "fuzzy logic" buzz-words. Give me a break! I gave them mainly examples of how ESP could be fooled. The types of examples which fooled ESP made me seriously believe that there are 4th graders who code implement it better. After I complained and sent them many examples, we got a new version of ESP. It was worse. It started thinking Email headers were PostScript...

QMS has a PS driver for Windows that supports the PS-2000. However, this print driver sprinkles control D's in the print job. These confuse their printers and cause problems. I had to change their host software to filter control D's (but only on PS jobs, not HPGL and PCL...).

The QMS host side software was really lousy. I had to re-write significant portions of it to make it work. Many suggestions were made to QMS. I understand it has been improved, though I don't know how much.

The QMS does not print ordinary text files very well. The first page has a certain number of lines (say 62), while all subsequent pages have 63 (I don't remember the exact counts, but this is close). This bug still exists, and when I dealt with it, had other nastier side-effects. You will want to enscript (or something similar) non-PS jobs sent to the QMS.

I don't like to think of how many hours I spent working on problems with the PS-2000 and talking to QMS on the phone. However, I seriously doubt that the problems could be as bad as they were at that time.

Ok, so which would I buy? Tough choice. The DEC I worked with was a dog and wasn't worth the high price. It was _Very_ reliable, however. The QMS was Really quick, and had a lot of nice paper handling options. The QMS had (and still has) problems but is very fast. The QMS could be my choice, but it would depend on how I wanted to use it. If I was just going to be printing PS, I might go with it. Most likely, I'd go with the QMS, but ONLY if I had a 30 day (roughly) money back option on the printer. You'd want to use it really hard and watch it closely during that period. The PS-2000 could be a fantastic printer if QMS has the bugs worked out.

The above are my personal opinions regarding these products and do not reflect the views of my employers - past or present.

Hope this helps,



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We have a LPS-20 that is currently lightly utilized. We have had occasional problems with paper getting "mangled" by the rollers (mostly) when duplex printing. Dec field service has always been able to repair this problem.

Also, the printer we own uses supplies at approximately twice the stated rate. BU distributed systems has had experience with two brands of "OCR" technology printers and each has used far more consumables than manufacturer's literature suggests. This, of course, invalidates any cost per page analysis that you may have done. I plan to extract a multi-year guarantee for consumables if I am ever involved in purchasing another OCR technology printer.

You should be aware that the LPS20 postscript interpreter does not have the 35 laser writer fonts that most postscript generating packages consider "standard". If you use TeX or a WSIWG text processing system (e.g. Interleaf, Frame), you are likely to find that the LPS20 is not capable of printing many documents. This may not be a problem if the printer is driven by a DEC workstation, but we have not found DEC supportive in engineering a font download solution for a Sun booted LPS-20.

-Charles Ball

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In mail.sun-managers you write:

>I have recently seen a "comparative study" of different printers. >I no it is not a question for this group but I am desperatly seeking >information comparing the two printers:

> DEC turbo PRINTERSERVER 20 > QMS PS-2000

>I have got to decide(pretty fast) which one to buy and would be >interrested in knowing about their reliability.

We have not tried the DEC printer, but we have a PS-2000 that we could not get to work despite two MONTHS effort by QMS technicians. It is a piece of crap. Another vendor you might consider is Talaris. They make a printer using the same Ricoh engine as the PS-2000 and DEC. I saw a demo of it and at least it seemed to work properly.

Mark Nagel Network Administrator UUCP: {uupsi,ucivax}!cigna!nagel CIGNA FIRST INET:

DISCLAIMER: Any opinions expressed above are mine, not CIGNA's.

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We have several DEC turbo PRINTERSERVER 20 actually I am not sure if they are 'turbo' or not. They are very nice printers when connected to DEC equipments owing to the printserver software DEC has available which has more options and switches and modes than you can shake a stick at. I am not sure how much of this will work well if you have a Sun only environment. What we do is route printers through a DECStation which drives the PRINTSERVER i.e. allows it to boot etc. Don't be surprised if the setup of this on a non-DEC machine is non-trivial (read next-to-impossible).

I suspect (although I have no real knowledge) that the QMS might be a touch easier to setup on a Sun. I suspect hardware-wise they are basically the same thing under the hood, and so for reliability sake should be effectively identical. If it were me and I personally only control Sun equipment in the building here I would probably buy QMS unless price was greater than a 10% disparity in which case I get the cheaper.

Frank P. Bresz |PCD Simulators Department, Westinghouse Electric Corporation|My opinions are mine, WEC pays big money for official opinions uunet!ittc!fpb |Member: League for Programming Freedom (LPF) | STOP Software | +1 412 733 6749 |For more information on the 'LPF' send mail | Patents Now |

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