Colour laser printers, once used primarily as workgroup devices in offices, are fast moving into the graphic arts, as new models offer improved image quality and other features.
The latest entrants are Hewlett-Packard, which is positioning its new Colour LaserJet 8500 as a short-run digital press, and Tektronix, whose Phaser 780 is targeted at comping and proofing applications. Tektronix has also introduced a new solid-ink printer that vastly improves on the image quality of earlier solid-ink models.
HP's 600dpi Colour LaserJet 8500 is targeted as a low-cost competitor to digital colour copiers. It can print 6 colour letter-size pages per minute and supports paper sizes of up to 12 x 18.5in. Using a Canon laser engine, it boasts a 60,000-page-per-month duty cycle and can handle up to 28-pound paper in its standard 500-sheet input trays and up to 80-pound cover stocks in its 100-sheet multipurpose tray. For graphics applications, HP recommends the Colour LaserJet 8500DN, which features a 7GB hard drive, a 10/100BaseTX print server, an extra 2000-sheet input tray, and an automatic duplexing unit for two-sided printing. With the hard drive added, the printer can process a page once and then print multiple copies. Resolution-enhancement technology boosts image quality to the equivalent of 2400dpi.
Tektronix's Phaser 780 - the company's first tabloid-format colour laser printer - is based on the same Fuji/Xerox engine found in the QMS Magicolor 330. The base version offers 600dpi colour resolution. The Phaser 780GN, aimed at graphics applications, uses resolution-enhancement techniques to boost output to 1200dpi. Each model includes a 10BaseT Ethernet connection as standard equipment; you can also purchase an optional 10/100BaseT adapter. It can print on 16 to 32-pound bond paper or on 80 to 120-pound card stocks. Maximum printable area is 13 x 19 inches.
Tektronix has also introduced the Phaser 740, a colour laser printer that handles letter-size paper, and the Phaser 740L, a monochrome printer that can be upgraded to colour capability by adding a cartridge.
The company hasn't given up on its solid-ink printing technology, previous versions of which offered fast output speeds and low-cost consumables but mediocre image quality.
The new Phaser 840 uses reformulated inks and other advances to offer a vast improvement in image quality.
The letter-format printer produces six pages per minute in standard colour mode and 10 pages per minute in draft mode. Standard resolution is 1000dpi, but you can boost this to 1200dpi by adding memory. The base version features a 200-sheet paper tray, but you can add up to two 500-sheet trays as options.
Other options include automatic duplexing and 100BaseT/10Base2 Ethernet.
All the new Tektronix printers feature interfaces that allow connecting a flatbed scanner, to turn them into colour copiers.
Many popular scanners are supported; Tektronix provides a list of them on its Web site.