Apple offers pair of laser-quality printers to Mac users on tighter budgets

March 13, 1991|By Peter H. Lewis | Peter H. Lewis,New York Times News Service

Apple Computer Inc., which has achieved remarkable success in the last five months with its low-cost Macintosh Classic and Macintosh LC personal computers, now has a pair of low-cost, laser-quality personal printers to go along with them.

In the same announcement Monday, Apple also introduced its long-awaited Truetype font technology and cut the prices of most of its other laser printers by $500 to $1,000, depending on the model. The new Truetype technology is included in an operating system upgrade called version 6.0.7 that users can get from their dealers. It allows any Macintosh user to view and print high-quality type in a wide range of sizes.

Apple officials said Truetype would work with all current Macintosh computers and Apple printers, including the Imagewriter dot-matrix printer and laser printers already using the Adobe Postscript language.

The new Apple printers give buyers of entry-level Macintosh equipment the same quality of printing that they would get with Apple's more expensive laser printers, only more slowly.

The Apple Personal Laserwriter LS, which has a suggested list price of $1,299, is a four-page-a-minute personal printer that is essentially a stripped down version of the older Personal Laserwriter.

The Laserwriter LS is built around the same Canon LBP-LX print engine used in the popular Hewlett-Packard Laserjet IIP. The printer has a resolution, or level of detail, of 300 dots to an inch. It comes with just 512 kilobytes of memory, and Apple officials say it does not need more.

Through the use of special microprocessors that break a page up into easily digestible parts, it is able to print a full page of charts or diagrams (about 1.2 megabytes of information) without adding more memory.

One drawback is that the Laserwriter LS cannot be shared by another computer user on a network. That's just as well, because the Laserwriter LS is not quite robust enough to handle the demands of more than one user.

It has a 50-sheet paper tray, which seems adequate for the type of small jobs an individual might produce, and its toner cartridge ($199, good for 3,500 pages) has to be replaced a little more frequently than the ones in brawnier printers. Apple says a 250-sheet tray is available as an option.

But unlike some other low-cost laser printers, the Laserwriter LS appears to be remarkably easy to set up and operate.

It just plugs into the computer, and the special software needed to set it up can be installed with one click of the mouse button.

By shopping around, one can eventually expect to find the Laserwriter LS discounted to less than $1,000, and the price includes all the necessary cables and other gadgets needed to get it running in minutes.

The Apple Stylewriter, at $595, is an unconventionally designed inkjet printer certain to win users away from Apple's popular Imagewriter II dot-matrix printer and to draw budget-conscious buyers who do not want to compromise on print quality.

The Stylewriter itself is not much larger than a notebook computer standing on its end. When it is attached to a 50-sheet automatic paper feeder, included in the price, the Stylewriter is about the size of a big toaster.

The printing unit weighs 3 1/2 pounds. The four-pound sheet feeder connects to the printer without tools. If Apple ever comes up with a decent portable Mac, the Stylewriter would be a good companion.

Depending on the complexity of the page design, it prints a page in a minute to two minutes, though Apple's print monitor software returns control to the user long before that.

Because the print quality is almost indistinguishable from that of a laser printer, many users may not mind waiting for such impressive results.

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