Test lab. (low-cost laser printers)(includes advice for purchasing a printer) (Evaluation)
by William Harrel
Computer pundits have hailed 1993 as the year of the 600-dpi laser printer. While it's true that the high resolutions of these souped-up toner-spreaders do produce sharp graphics and halftones, if all you print is text and an occasional line-art image, don't let the hoopla obscure the reality of your needs. A 300-dpi printer will serve you just fine, thank you, and it will put much less stress on your pocketbook.
Unfortunately (or fortunately, depending on your politics), not all 300-dpi lasers are created equal. They differ widely in cost, speed, options, and yes, even print quality. This may indeed be the year of high-resolution printers, but it is also a great time to find terrific buys on 300-dpi models.
Choosing a laser printer a few years ago was much easier than it is today. Then, you had only two standards to pick from: a Hewlett-Packard Laser Jet for Printer Command Language (PCL) compatibility or an Apple Laser-Writer for PostScript. All the others in the printer market did their best to make comparable products, competing by offering more features at lower prices. Nowadays, good 300-dpi printers abound.
Another first for 1993 is that--if you shop around--you can buy a 300-dpi printer on the street for under $500. Printer prices, like those of everything else in the computer and peripherals arena, are continuing to plunge. But you usually get what you pay for. Often (but not always), the economy models are slow, print quality is lacking, and options are nil. A couple of hundred dollars can mean the difference between a printer that actually fits your needs and another fraught with frustration and limitations.
One criterion for this review is that the printer cost less than $1,000. Most of the machines reviewed here will suit most small-office needs. However, we did ask the manufacturers to equip the printers with at least 2MB of RAM, which is not included in the $1,000 limit.
Only the HP LaserJet 4L did not require a RAM upgrade. It ships with 1MB (most of the others ship with 512K) and the ability to compress data, which made the factory configuration more than sufficient for our tests. The Okidata OL400e ships with 512K, but it also compresses data. It completed all but our most memory-intensive test. After we added 1MB of RAM, bringing it up to 1.5MB, there was nothing we couldn't get it to do. Depending on the printer, the others require extra expense to equip them to print a full page of text and graphics.
Due primarily to font-handling options, printer languages were once a very important consideration in buying a printer. A few years ago, you needed a PostScript printer to take advantage of scalable outline font technology. Today's software solutions, such as Adobe Type Manager (ATM) and Windows' TrueType, have taken on much of the font-rendering burden. No longer is it necessary for a printer to support scalable fonts to print text at all weights and sizes from font outlines.
The printers reviewed here use Hewlett-Packard's PCL, the language found in LaserJets (the Texas Instruments printer provides both PCL and PostScript). However, some use PCL 4, the language found in HP Series II devices (IIP, IID, and so on). And others use PCL 5, the standard used in LaserJet IIIs and 4s.
The differences between these two versions are significant. PCL 4, for example, does not support scalable fonts. To get different sizes, weights, and styles, you must send a separate font file to the printer for each one.
If you use Windows, font scaling is not a problem--it's built in. However, most DOS applications cannot scale fonts. Instead, you must keep a separate soft font file on your hard disk for each style, size, and weight you want to use. Doing so eats up valuable disk real estate and slows printing.
Another drawback of PCL 4 is limited print quality. PCL 4 does not, for example, print good halftone screens, and it cannot print reverse type (white type on a black background). The choice between a printer with PCL 4 and one with PCL 5 seems clear.
The only reason you really need PostScript is to print PostScript graphics (which are the formats used by many clip art packages) or to proof output intended for imagesetters (typesetting equipment), color-proofing printers, and slide recorders.
Printer engines are rated at pages per minute (ppm), such as 4, 6, 8, and 10 ppm. The most common printer engines are built by Canon. However, all the ppm rating really measures is how fast the engine churns sheets of paper through the machine, which says nothing about how quickly the printer's processor raterizes them. Also important to printer speed are the amount of RAM it contains and the speed of the processor. Most of the printers reviewed here have 16-MHz processors, which are quickly becoming the slowest in the industry today but are quite adequate for most desktop environments.
To test these printers, I first judged how easy they are to set up and use. I then ran a series of real-world tests, which included four documents: a 20-page Microsoft Word for Windows file, a 4-page Alddus PageMaker newsletter, a full-page CorelDRAW! drawing, and an Adobe Photoshop gray-scale photograph. The tests were designed to gauge speed and test print quality--which are, after all, the most important considerations when buying a printer.
The tests were performed with Windows Print Manager turned off so that my 486/33 would dump the print data directly to the printer. I began each timing when I clicked on OK and ended it when the final page reached the output tray. The accompanying graphics show you the results of these tests.
The results are interesting, as well as valuable if speed is a factor in your purchasing decision. In addition to these test results, this month's Test Lab includes reviews of each product, a table of features so that you can compare these printers head to head, and a sidebar with suggestions for buying a printer. Read on. Surely there's a printer here that can meet your needs.
Brother International's entry in the economy printer market--the HL-6T--is one of the fastest printers reviewed. It turned in second-or third-place times on all four of my tests. Setting the printer up requires a minimum amount of fuss, and the documentation is clear; you'll be ready to go in no time. Simply slide the combination toner-developer cartridge into the front of the printer, and you're off and running.
The printer is light and relatively small, capable of fitting neatly on most desktops. Built around Canon's 6-pp, engine, the HL-6T resembles LaserMaster's WinPrinter, which is a popular high-resolution printer. One thing I don't like about the HL-6T's design is that the input and output trays extend from the front of the machine, causing them to take up about twice as much room as they should. Also, the front-mounted lid is a little flimsy. It's too easy to close it improperly, which could damage the printer.
Instead of PCL 5, the HL-6T uses PCL 4, emulating the LaserJet IIP; so it has some limitations, such as an inability to print reverse type. To get around this problem, you have to create graphics and import them into your documents--a hassle. However, print quality is good. The Photoshop halftone I printed on the HL-6T is one of the best. Text (though a bit heavier from this printer than from some of the other printers) is crisp and clear. Both small and large type print well. And the CorelDRAW! drawing, which contains a graduated fountain-fill background, looks good. There is minimal banding in the continuous light-to-dark background.
This printer ships with more resident fonts than the others (48), as well as 12 TrueType fonts for scalable output from Windows apps. I found installing the Windows printer driver and fonts a snap. The LED is clear and easy to see, and the front panel is easy to figure out. I made most selections without even cracking the manual.
The HL-6T supports up to 4.5MB of RAM, but the 2.5MB configuration I tested sailed through the tests. Brother has made installing the extra memory quite easy--all you do is loosen one screw, slide the lid back, and snap in a couple of SIMMs.
When the printer is used with the bundled Windows printer driver, a data compression routine makes for faster printing, and the printer requires less memory. But here's the real benefit of this technology: When you use the Windows Print Manager (Windows' built-in spooler), control of the computer returns more quickly. The driver also lets you switch the high-speed parallel interface on and off, download fonts (as either permanent or temporary), and adjust graphics print quality.
The HL-6T is also one of a few printers to support a bidirectional parallel port. This option keeps you apprised on your monitor of the printer's status and progress during a print job. It notifies you, for example, when the printer runs out of memory or needs paper.
Again, my only objections to this printer are that its trays take up a little too much space and the printer itself could be just a little sturdier. I also think that it should support PCL 5. Otherwise, the HL-6T is a great value.
Canon's LBP-430 is almost identical to Hewlett-Packard's LaserJet 4L. The two printers look almost exactly alike, have the same Canon 4-ppm engine, and support PCL 5. the LBP-430 comes out of the box ready to print. All you do is pull the tab on the toner cartridge, slide in some paper, and let 'er rip. It's as simple as setting up the toaster for breakfast.
Where this printer really excels over the others in this month's Test Lab is in its setup utility and documentation. The setup utility, a Windows-based application that installs and configures the printer driver automatically, asks all the right questions and takes all the guesswork out of the installation. During the installation process, it displays graphics that acquaint you with the printer while you wait for files to copy and decompress. What could be easier? After installing the printer, you can use the setup utility as needed to control various options, such as printing a test page, changing the default font, and setting density.
The online documentation is the best I've seen. It has eight well-illustrated topics--Setup, Paper Handling, Software Issues, Adding Memory, and so on--that not only explain all concepts quite well but also demonstrate procedures with drawings and actual photographs of the printer. Each topic receives quite thorough coverage, and you can navigate the online book by using the table of contents menu or search terms, as you would with the Windows Help system. I tried and tried to think of issues not covered in the online material--without success.
If you're short on desk space, you'll appreciate the compactness and small footprint of this printer. Need to move your printer around? This one is light and easy to move. And it saves power, thanks to an automatic sleep mode that, after 15 minutes of inactivity, cuts power consumption down to a bare minimum.
The printer has its own built-in resolution enhancement technology, which Canon calls Automatic Image Refinement (AIF). AIF helps prevent jaggies in large text and the curved and diagonal lines in graphics. The one-button control panel is easy to figure out and use--the list of conveniences goes on and on. This is simply a nice printer.
Though middle-of-the-road in speed, the LBP-430 prints very well. Text is clear at both large and small sizes. Gray-scale halftones are as good as or better than those from any of the other printers reviewed here. I could find nothing to complain about.
Where it falls short of the HP LaserJet 4L, however, is in the way that it handles memory. With the HP model, I could complete all my tests with 1MB RAM; the LBP-430 required 2MB. apparently, it doesn't compress data as well as the LaserJet 4L. Luckily, it holds up to 4MB, which is 2MB more than the LaserJet 4L (although that printer would probably never need more than 2MB to print anything).
For a number of reasons, this is a great printer, and you can buy it at a reasonable price.
EPSON ACTIONLASER 1500
Epson's ActionLaser 1500 is a good printer with some limitations. Though lacking in a few of the frills found in the more recently released printers, such as Brother's HL-6T and HP's LaserJet 4L, it does support PCL 5. It doesn't come with its own printer driver with bidirectional port controls, but it's a little faster than most of the other printers reviewed here. It's easy to set up and use, and Epson has made it sturdy, light, and compact enough that it won't push you off your desk.
During setup, I encountered only one problem--installing the RAM upgrade. The printer's design forces you to remove too many screws and parts. Furthermore, rather than installing convenient SIMMs, you must press in memory chips, which, without practice, isn't foolproof. On the other hand, I found loading the toner-developer unit almost as easy as switching on the conveniently front-mounted power switch.
The real question is, of course, how well does it print? And again the ActionLaser has its pros and cons. Similar to HP's Resolution Enhancement technology (REt), Epson's built-in Resolution Improvement Technology (RIT) sharpens your output. RIT fills in the gaps around the edges of text and graphics so that the resolution seems higher than it really is.
The ActionLaser prints text as well as or better than any of the other printers reviewed here. Look closely, and you'll find slender and straight strokes on small type. Curves are crisp. Even under a magnifying glass, the type doesn't exhibit any misplaced toner--not always the case with other printers. Large text really does look as though it's printed at a higher resolution than 300 dpi. Monotone graphics look great.
However, the ActionLaser cannot print gray-scale photographs nearly as well as some of the other printers. True, 300-dpi printers do not do photographs well, anyway. But when I tested the ActionLaser, the results were less than I'd expected. The photos looked muddied and washed out, with light spots too light and dark spots too dark. The manual warns that you should turn RIT off when printing gray-scale images, but I tried it both ways and saw little or no difference. If you plan to print many gray-scale screens or photographs, you shouldn't be using a 300-dpi laser.
These shortcomings aside, I liked this printer. It's sturdy and fast, it prints text well, and it's easy to use.
HEWLETT-PACKARD LASERJET 4L
Hewlett-Packard's economical LaserJet 4L is almost everything a personal desktop laser printer should be: light, small, easy to set up, and easy to use. The manufacturer provides great documentation as well as an online reference that helps with everything from setup to downloading fonts and using the printer with various software applications.
It's tough to find anything to criticize about this printer. All the features I like in the Brother HL-6T--the bidirectional parallel port, the easy font downloading, the graphics quality, the resolution control, and so on--are here, as are several other interesting and helpful options. About my only complaint is that this printer turned in slightly slower printing times than some of the others.
Of all the printers in this roundup, the LaserJet 4L is the only printer that ships in a standard configuration with enough memory to perform our tests. It has 1MB of RAM, which you can upgrade to 2MB. This doesn't sound like much, but HP's Memory Enhancement technology (MEt) compresses data, effectively doubling the capacity of the installed RAM. Hence, 1MB is like 2MB, and so on. Sound too good to be true? I tried, but I could not overload the memory in this printer. HP's exclusive Resolution Enhancement technology (REt) works similarly to Epson's RIT. However, I found the LaserJet 4L's technology more satisfactory, whether printing text or graphics. Frankly, the LaserJet 4L prints as well as or better than any of the other printers reviewed here. In fact, it prints text as well as the 600-dpi Lexmark I use regularly, and its halftones (though obviously 300-dpi) are great.
Some other HP options also help to make this a standout printer. Intelligent On/Off turns the printer off after extended periods of idleness. EconoMode allows the printer to use 50 percent of the usual amount of toner when printing drafts, proofs, internal memos, or any other documents that don't require top quality. HP's toner cartridge comes with superfine toner, which also enhances print quality. And with HP's Reduce/Reuse/Recycle design, the manuals come on recycled paper, and you're encouraged to recycle the toner cartridges, on which HP pays the return postage.
Finally, unlike any of the other printers reviewed here, the LaserJet 4L contains the Enhanced PCL 5 found in the LaserJet 4, which provides a faster printing speed than that of the IIIP (which the LaserJet 4L replaces), and Intellifont scaling. Scaling allows you to use HP's Intellifont format to print at any point size (similar to PostScript Type 1 fonts). The LaserJet 4L has 26 resident Intellifont typefaces.
Again, this is a great printer at a great price. If you're looking to break into the laser printer world, this one opens the door painlessly and with style.
IBM 4037 5E
Like the Epson laser printer, the 4037 5E is a mixture of good news and bad news. Immensely simple to set up, it comes with a DOS-based utility that checks to make sure you've set up the printer correctly and then installs printer drivers for most popular applications, including WordPerfect, Windows, and Word. This printer is fast, but in its native emulation--IBM's PPDS--print quality isn't up to par, and its HP LaserJet emulation isn't always adequate, either.
Lexmark makes installing a memory upgrade in this printer quite simple. Just open a door and slip in a SIMM. You'll find installing the font card and the flash memory option (which allows you to download permanent soft fonts) just as easy. Flash memory comes in both 0.25MB and 1MB modules. You can use it to send fonts to the printer in advance of print jobs, which can save time when printing. However, the flash memory works only in PPDS mode, which means you don't benefit from it when using the printer in HP LaserJet emulation. The font card, which provides 23 scalable resident fonts, is a great option also, but it, too, works only in PPDS mode.
These PPDS options are great for printing text; however, this printer does not print halftone screens very well at all. In the CorelDRAW! test, the printer produced entirely too much banding (obvious abrupt transitions from one shade to another) no matter how I adjusted the print pattern and contrast. The CorelDRAW! drawing printed much better in PCL mode, but PCL 4 leaves something to be desired. The 4037 5E was not able to print some newsletter pages in PCL mode with 2.5MB RAM. It ran out of memory.
This printer does, however, have some attractive features. The LED is large, and the logically arranged buttons make changing emulation and other choices easy. The large paper tray has an indicator on the front that lets you know when you're getting short on paper. It does not, however, support legal-size pages. You'll have to buy an optional tray for that. I found text quality great at large and small sizes, in both PPDS and PCL modes.
This is a big, sturdy printer capable of handling heavy-duty jobs. Like HP's printers, IBMs always have great documentation. The 4037 5E is no exception. I found the documentation thorough and the illustrations exceptional and helpful. And the online utility makes setting up, programming, and font downloading a snap. This printer is not as sophisticated as some of the others, and it has a few frustrating quirks; otherwise, it's a dependable machine worth considering.
If you need a fast printer that prints well and takes up an incredibly small portion of your desktop, you should take a good long look at this one. In fact, if your computer workspace is limited, this could be the printer for you. It has a lot of options squeezed into a small package, and I like it.
Like HP's LaserJet 4L, the OL400e compresses data, thus requiring less memory. It comes standard with 512K, and surprisingly, this is enough for most print jobs. Only while printing the most stringent of the newsletter pages did it peter out. Even then, it finished most of the pages, defaulting to Courier only at the bottom of the most complicated page. After I installed another megabyte (which was simply a matter of sliding a card into the back of the printer), I could not overload the OL400e. This printer holds up to 4MB of RAM, which most desktop applications would never use.
The OL400e placed in the top three on all four of the speed tests, and I found the print quality excellent. The only drawback was this printer's use of PCL 4, which meant that it could not print the reverse type in the newsletter. Other than that, text and graphics printed crisp and clean, with clear, definitive strokes and minimal stairstepping. The gray-scale photograph printed as well on this printer as on anybody else's, and the CorelDRAW! drawing had minimal banding.
Like the HP and Brother printers, the OL400e talks back to your computer. For example, if the printer runs out of memory or paper or encounters another problem, it displays a message in Windows. Although this really is not a network printer, these messages are particularly helpful when the printer is in another room or not in pain sight, such as on a multiple-tiered computer stand where the printer is hidden by the shelf that holds the keyboard.
You won't believe how light and small this printer is. It's almost small enough to pack up and take with you. Lifting it out of the box, I wondered about its sturdiness. But paper runs through its smoothly, and all the parts and doors fit precisely. There's no reason to believe it won't last. Okidata's engineers deserve a lot of credit.
The OL400e's use of PCL 4 places it a little behind HP's LaserJet 4L in options and quality. Another drawback is that at press tiem there was no way to get PostScript output from it. However, Okidata says a PostScript option is in the works. Aside from these grievances, there's no reason not to consider this printer. If it supported PCL 5, I would consider it the best printer in this bunch, hands down.
My first impression of this printer was that it was big and sturdy--and that it is. The Panasonic KX-P4410 is, however, a little long in the tooth and in need of upgrading. For example, it separates toner and developer cartridges make it somewhat more difficult to set up than the others. And adding memory requires too much disassembly. The KX-P4410 supports PCL 4, which means print quality and options are lacking, and it has only five resident fonts. But then, if you use Windows, resident fonts aren't a big issue. What you get with the KX-P4410 is a well-built workhorse that's liable to last just about forever.
The more I played with this printer, the more it reminded me of the HP LaserJet Series II, which was a fine printer in its day. In fact, most of those built and sold several years ago are still around, and several HP dealers have backlogs of companies that want to lease used ones. However, the Series II does not support scalable fonts, and halftone screen patterns are blotchy, as is the case with this printer. It's not the ideal device for printing camera-ready art.
The KX-P4410 scored near or at the bottom of my speed tests, and type and graphics are a little stairstepped and fuzzy. This is not to say that the quality is not acceptable; it's just not as good as with the others. The documentation is very thorough, though a bit too technical for an entry-level printer. It's obvious that at one time this was not an entry-level model.
This printer is not really suitable for desktop publishing and other graphics-intensive work. However, if you need a workhorse capable of turning out page after page of text day after day, this one will serve you well. It would hold up very nicely in an operation printing lots of in-house word processor, spreadsheet, and database documents. It would also be a good printer for generating a lot of copies of the same document.
STAR MICRONICS LS-5EX
If you need a sturdy printer offering easy setup, PCL 5, good print quality, and speed, take a look at the LS-5EX.
The LS-5EX rated in the top three on all four tests, and its print quality is as good as that of any of the other printers. But the real story behind this printer is upgrade options. For a few extra dollars you can transform this machine from a modest personal laser into a powerful workhorse. It has the highest maximum memory configuration of all these printers--7MB. You can get a 500-page input tray; the toner cartridge has a 4500-page print duty cycle; and, with the PostScript upgrade, the printer supports AppleTalk, which makes it a great network printer.
There's also a Truelmage upgrade available. Truelmage is Microsoft's PostScript clone, which may or may not eventually catch on and become popular. The printer comes with 15 TrueType fonts, which you can use with Windows.
All this power comes at a price. This is a big, bulky printer, not nearly as compact as the Okidata or HP offering. The thorough manual becomes a bit technical in places, with much information on programming the printer.
I like the convenience of the LED and button panel. The LED is easy to read, and the buttons are easy to figure out. Also, when you press a button, the printer gives you instructions on what to do next. For example, when you press the test button, a message flashes on the LED, telling you to hold the button for two seconds to print a test page. This printer is full of neat little features.
Also worth discussing are the speed and print quality of the LS-5EX. While the Epson printer turned out slightly faster times on most of the tests, the LS-5EX outpout looks a little better. In addition to sharp, crisp type, the graphics are quite good for a 300-dpi printer. This is attributable to the Star Micronics Resolution Enhancement Procedure (REP). REP increases horizontal resolution to 600 dpi, which helps fill in curved and diagonal edges.
The only way to test how well these resolution enhancement routines work is to analyze the output. Using a magnifying glass, I examined text and graphics from the printers using these routines. The Star Micronics model had slightly more stairstepping in diagonal strokes than the other printers; I noticed this stairstepping in A's, W's, and so on. But the differences in resolution are not noticeable without magnification.
About the only problem I encountered was upgrading the memory. And it was really more of a hassle than a problem--too many parts to take off. Other than that, it's a great printer.
None of the other printers in this Test Lab are as sturdy as the LS-5EX or offer as many upgrade options. If your printing needs go beyond the modest abilities of a personal desktop laser, you should consider the LS-5EX.
TANDY LP 400
This printer is easy to set up and has great documentation. I had it up and printing in a very short time. Like the Panasonic printer, though, this machine has a few limitations that make it less than ideal for all applications.
The LP 400 requires a lot of memory to print a page of text and graphics, and it emulates the HP IIP, which limits output options and quality. Like the other devices in this review that do not support PCL 5, it cannot print reverse type and does not support scalable fonts--unless, of course, you're printing from Windows, which has its own font-scaling technology. Also, this printer's halftone screens aren't as clear as those from some of the other printers reviewed in this roundup. And it's a little slower than most of the other printers, but not excruciatingly so.
The LP 400 prints too dark, and character spacing is not very good. Often, characters print too close together or overlap each other. You don't get the fine character strokes produced by some of the other printers, such as the Epson, HP, and Okidata models. But the thick strokes do eliminate stairstepping in large text. This is also helpful when you print graphics with lots of arcs or diagonal lines. The LP 400 did print the gray-scale photograph and graphics well, especially for a PCL 4 machine.
To its credit, this printer doesn't take much space on your desktop. The LED is easy to read, and the buttons are easy to figure out and use. Printing font and test pages is easy, as is simple programming, such as changing interfaces and emulation modes. The memory upgrade is literally a snap; all you do is slip in a couple of SIMMs. In addition, Tandy has a great support team.
The LP 400, like the Panasonic model, is built very well, and it should last a long time under a heavy workload, where some of the other light, compact models may not prove as durable. I think it would be best suited for an office that generates lots of documents for its own consumption, such as interdepartmental reports or memos.
TEXAS INSTRUMENTS MICROWRITER
Of the ten low-cost printers reviewed here, only Texas Instruments' microWriter comes standard with PostScript, making it the printer of choice for desktop publishing. PostScript is required for printing PostScript graphics and for proofing output intended for imagesetters, color-proof printers, and slide recorders. The microWriter also emulates the HP IIP, making it an all-around, good printer for home and small business. And with its support for AppleTalk, you can use it with a Macintosh or on a network.
The advantages of PostScript are many. For example, the newsletter used to test these printers had two EPS images on the front page. None of the other printers could print them properly--all that printed were low-resolution screen representations of the images. Also, draw programs such as CorelDRAW! create certain effects that non-PostScript printers cannot print.
The microWriter is a huge, sturdy thing. It comes out of the box easily and I found it a snap to set up. The one that I tested came configured with 2MB of RAM (the amount required for our tests); consequently, I didn't have an opportunity to evaluate the memory-upgrading process. However, 2MB is seldom enough memory for a PostScript printer, and the microWriter is no exception. In PostScript mode, it was not able to complete the full-page CorelDRAW! drawing and a couple of the newsletter pages. Also, the shortage of memory caused numerous timeout errors from Windows. I finally had to set the Retry option in the Windows PostScript driver to over 300 to get the newsletter to print.
PostScript printers print faster with more memory. The graphs in this Test Lab show how slow the microWriter is with only 2MB. I didn't test it with more than 2MB, but the printer would undoubtedly print faster with twice as much memory. A drawback of the microWriter is that it can hold only 4MB of RAM. While this is enough for most applications, graphics applications could require more.
Note, however, that the printer had plenty of RAM for the HP emulation tests. It turned in respectable times in HP mode, except on the CorelDRAW! drawing. For some reason it was too slow on that one. But then, I had a similar anomaly with the HP LaserJet 4L, which fell way behind on the gray-scale test but performed respectably on the others.
The microWriter documentation, though sparse, is clear. It covers the basics, and these days few users need more. There is, however, an optional reference manual that contains HP programming and PostScript interpreter information. The standard PostScript configuration is 17 Type 1 fonts, which you can upgrade to 65. There is also a 2MB font upgrade that adds several PCL fonts to the base IIP configuration.
Although some of the printers in this review are sleeker and have a few more sophisticated features than this one, PostScript makes the microWriter an excellent value--even if you do have to spend a little extra to get enough memory. Some of the other printers here offer PostScript upgrades, but in most cases you'll have to upgrade the memory, too. If you don't need graphics or desktop publishing capabilities, one of the other printers may be better suited to your application. But if you print graphics often, you should consider the microWriter.