Canon, Hewlett-Packard offer laser printers with scalable fonts

September 12, 1990|By PETER McWILLIAMS | PETER McWILLIAMS,1990 Universal Press Syndicate

What do laser printers by Apple, Brother, Hewlett-Packard and QMS all have in common? Their insides -- the "engines" -- are all made by Canon.

One of the great features of the Canon engine, which I've extolled before, is that when you replace the toner cartridge you're also replacing, within the cartridge, the drum and many of the printer's moving parts. It's like the oil filter of your car containing the valves and cylinders of your engine.

The reason this is great is that maintenance is kept to a minimum. When I had a small Xerox photocopying machine (which has much the same technology as a laser printer), I needed a service person to come out twice a year to clean the drum.

At $75 an hour, this was not a visit I relished.

With my Hewlett-Packard Laserjet (the original model), which I've had for more than six years, used daily and run tens of thousands of pages through, I have never needed a servicing until recently, when paper started jamming. The print quality has never been less than superb. The Canon engine is a hardy thing.

Many other people have similarly praised Hewlett-Packard laser printers and made them the standard that they are today.

Now Canon itself has joined the market with the debut a line of new laser printers. I've been trying the Canon LBP-8, Mark III, to high satisfaction. ("LBP" stands for "laser beam printer," and the "8" designates a printing speed of up to eight pages a minute.)

The Mark III corresponds to Hewlett-Packard's new Laserjet III. Both list for $2,495. What both offer over older technology, primarily, is scalable fonts. Scalable fonts are not fixed in size. A scalable font means than instead of having to choose the size of your font off a list, you can type in the point size you want. This not only offers more range and choice, but also simplifies font selection. You can make your fonts from 2 points all the way up to 999 points. (Most people won't have a need beyond 96 points or less than 6.)

If you're using soft fonts -- fonts created by software and downloaded to your printer -- scalable fonts takeup much less hard disk space.

The Postscript printer language, used by the Apple Laserprinter (about $4,500) and a number of other laser printers, has offered scalability for years. Now with the Canon or HP printers, you get scalability for a far lower cost. If you need to have Postscript, you can add a Postscript card to either printer (about $995) and still have spent less than an Apple.

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