Hush 80; thermal dot-matrix print at a bargain price. (evaluation) Owen W. Linzmayer.
Manufactured in the United States by Ergo Systems, the Hush 80 is said to be the lowest priced 80-column dot-matrix thermal printer currently on the market. Carrying a suggested list price of $139.99, the Hush 80 portable printer features 80-column bi-directional printing at roughly 80 characters per second, graphics at 4800 dots per square inch, and weight of only 25 ounces. The Hush 80 is offered in three models, each of which comes with a 100' roll of thermal paper loaded and ready for use, and a 9-volt AC wall transformer with power cable.
Priced at $139.99, the Hush 80 CD comes complete with interface and cable for plug-compatibility with the Commodore line of computers. The Centronics-type parallel interface version, Hush 80 P, and serial RS-232 interface version, Hush 80 S, are both priced at $159.99 with the appropriate cables. Though all of the models are essentially alike, this review was based upon my experience with the Hush 80 CD.
The Hush 80 CD is an attractive little printer, and when we put the measuring tape to its cream colored body we find its dimensions to be 11.6" x 5.5" x 2.8". Given its small size and light weight (36 ounces with a 100', 8.5" wide roll of thermal paper loaded), the Hush 80 CD is perfect for portable printouts; it was designed to fit in a conventional briefcase. Though it normally requires a 9-v DC transformer, the Hush 80 CD is available in a rechargeable battery-operated version for true portability.
Following the directions in the 37-page user's manual, set up of the Hush 80 CD is no more difficult than connecting the 6-pin DIN interface cable to the serial port on the Commodore and plugging the transformer into a wall outlet. The printer is turned on with the switch located on the left side of the unit above the power cord. Once activated, the linefeed button should light up, indicating that the printer is ready to receive data from the computer.
Incidentally, the linefreed button is the only mechanical control device on the printer. If you depress the linefeed button when you turn the printer on, you activate the self-test which results in a brief demo, along with a sample printout showing all of the features of the Hush 80 CD. In other cases, the linefeed button advances the thermal paper one line.
The manual contains Basic programming information needed to take full advantage of all features. As you can see in the sample output, the Hush 80 CD is capable of printing upper- and lowercase alphanumerics, as well as the complete Commodore graphics character set. In addition, you can design and print your own custom character set by entering the graphic mode. Using a printhead with a 5 x 7 matrix, the Hush 80 CD prints 40, 80, or 160 characters per line bi-directionally at an average rate of 80 characters per second. Graphics are printed uni-directionally on a 6 x 7 matrix. And as its name would have you believe, the Hush 80 CD operates very quietly (56dB).
There you have the specifications of the printer, but let's talk reality. The print quality is nice for a dot-matrix thermal printer, but you get what you pay for, and for $140 you shouldn't expect near-letter-quality output. What you do get is very consistent, legible dot-matrix character set, though I was disappointed to find that the lowercase characters lack true descenders.
For a budding programmer on a budget, the Hush 80 CD is perfect since it has the ability to print all of the Commodore special graphics characters. Likewise, the battery-operated serial and parallel versions of the Hush printer are excellent for portable computer enthusiasts who desire draft quality 80-column output or can't afford the HP Thinkjet. However, if you are shopping for a printer for correspondence or other serious word processing applications, you will probably have to spend a bit more for a plain-paper impact dot-matrix printer.
Products: Hush 80 (computer printer)