NEC Silentwriter Model 95. (laser printer) (Hardware Review) (Evaluation)
by Tom Benford
PostScript Level II and HP LaserJet III emulations are just two of the long list of features that make the NEC Silentwriter Model 95 a truly outstanding laser printer. Besides being easy to operate, it offers plenty of RAM memory and internal fonts.
Many features which are options on other comparably priced laser printers are standard on the Silentwriter. Standard RAM memory, for example, is 2MB--a "real-world" amount for most graphics and Postscript work. Additional RAM can be added up to a maximum of 5MB total. The unit I tried was outfitted with the standard 2MB of RAM.
Internal fonts are abundant in the Silentwriter, with 35 Postscript typefaces augmenting the LJ III mode's 8 scalable and 14 bitmap fonts. If that isn't enough, you can also add HP-compatible downloadable soft fonts or cartridge fonts, as well.
The Silentwriter weighs about 37.5 pounds and measures 18.6 x 15 x 9.5 inches, so it can nestle on a desktop as well as on a printer stand. As much as it weighs, however, it isn't a printer you'd like to carry around the workplace frequently. If you desire mobility, a rolling printer stand would be a useful accessory.
The Silentwriter can output up to six pages of 16- to 24-pound paper per minute when feeding from its 250-sheet cassette; it can also handle paper and cardstocks in the 16- to 41-pound weight range when they're fed in manually. The multipurpose tray supplied can also accommodate up to 15 envelopes at a time. Finished output is delivered facedown to the stacker, which can hold up to 150 sheets of 20-pound bond at a time. An optional faceup accessory stacker can hold up to 50 sheets.
Interfacing on the Silentwriter covers all bases, with Centronics parallel, RS-232C serial, RS-422 serial, and Local-Talk (AppleTalk) all featured as standard equipment on the unit. The Local-Talk Talk interface is only available in PostScript mode, and the active interface setting can be selected via the control panel.
The control panel is easy to understand and very simple to operate. Six push buttons control the printer's functions and step you through the menu selections, while a 16-character LCD provides prompts as well as status indications.
A thorough user's guide more than 200 pages thick provides detailed information on using, maintaining, and upgrading the printer, in addition to accessing all of its features. The manual's excellent organization makes finding any desired topic a very simple task, and the clear writing style and generous use of illustrations, diagrams, and tables aids comprehension of the material about the printer.
It should be noted, though, that most people probably won't need to refer to the manual at all after the initial installation, since the control panel's menu options are easy to understand and logically arranged.
PostScript and HP LJ III emulations, 6-ppm print speed, and rich interfacing flexibility all combine with the printer's aforementioned attributes to make the NEC Silentwriter Model 95 a uniformly excellent laser printer. NEC Silentwriter Model 95--$1,749 NEC TECHNOLOGIES 1414 Massachusetts Ave. Boxborough, MA 01719 (800) 388-8888 Circle Reader Service Number 346