Datasouth Personal Printer 1. (evaluation) Owen W. Linzmayer.
They lied to me! Contrary to what I was told by my editors when I initially took this job, writing printer reviews is not a ticket into the glamorous world of investigative journalism. I do, however, occasionally get my hands on a new piece of equipment that is such a pleasure to use that returning it to the manufacturer causes me great anguish. The Datasouth Personal Printer 1 is such a device.
Before I go any further, I must blow the cover of the Datasouth Personal Printer 1 (DSPP-1) and reveal that it is really the Canon PW-1080A in a flimsy disguise. With the exception of the respective company nameplates, the printers are identical both functionally and physically. The DSPP-1 measures 15-3/4" wide, 12-5/8" long, and stands tall at 4-3/8" high. The attractive two-tone case is fashioned out of textured high-impact plastic, and the entire unit weighs 17.6 pounds. If you think it looks good sitting idle next to the computer, wait till you throw the power switch and put it through its paces.
The DSPP-1 is an 80-column impact dot-matrix printer capable of 132-column condensed text output and graphics at 240 dots per inch. Though it is not an exceptionally fast printer (160 cps, standard print), the Datasouth Personal Printer 1 more than makes up for any lack of speed by offering exceptional print quality in a variety of pitches (3) and modes (9), most of which can be mixed to provide a virtual smorgasbord of type styles. What's more, you can define your own character set or purchase optional font ROMs from Datasouth.
In standard mode, a character is printed on a 11 x 9 dot matrix in a single pass. Near Letter Quality (NLQ) mode offers beautifully formed characters on a 23 x 18 matrix. Instead of printing bidirectionally, in NLQ mode the print-head makes two left to right passes, the second slightly offset by the first. This results in a slow 27 cps NLQ print speed. To make the burden of waiting less painful, the DSPP-1 has a 3K input buffer which drains into a 2K printer buffer.
The type of print you desire can be selected via escape codes in software or the internal DIP switch settings. Incidentally, gaining access to the three DIP switches requires dismantling of the unit, as they are located in the belly of the beast. Luckily the printer operates with its cover off, which allows you to experiment with the switches until you find the correct settings for your system. The DSPP-1 ships as a Centronics parallel printer, though an optional RS-232C serial interface is available.
As if the variety of print formats isn't enough, the DSPP-1 is graphics compatible with the bestselling Epson FX-80 printer, thus insuring that it will work with most software packages. I tested the DSPP-1 on an Apple IIe with an Epson APL parallel interface card installed and had no problem obtaining screen printouts from packages such as Koala's Graphics Exhibitor and Broderbund's Dazzle Draw. The DSPP-1 has three graphic image modes: single, double, and quadruple-density. These correspond to how tightly the dots are packed horizontally per inch of paper. The printhead itself itself is composed of nine pins aligned vertically and has seven 8-dot, two 9-dot, and one 16-dot (two passes) graphic modes.
The DSPP-1 manual that was supplied for our evaluation was actually the Canon DW-1080A printer manual. I assume that Datasouth will ship a slightly modified version of this 198-page book. Although the documentation provides a wealth of technical information, it is heavily illustrated and written in such a manner that it should present no problems for the average user.
At the time of this writing, the Datasouth Personal Printer 1 carries a suggested retail price of $695. A wide carriage version (156 columns) sells for $895. I expect these prices to drop in light of the fact that the Canon DW-1080A sells for $595, and the Epson FX-80 is now discounted far below that. The Datasouth Personal Printer 1 is a capable little printer simply bursting with features. If the price were a little more competitive I would have no reservations about recommending the DSPP-1. Now if I can only think of a way to hold onto my review unit just a little longer . . .
Products: Datasouth Personal Printer 1(Computer printer) - Evaluation