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Business in Vancouver: News that works for you

    Colour printers adapt to peripheral media
    Latest models print disc labels, read camera memory cards

    by  Alan Zisman (c) 2003 First published in Business in Vancouver ,  Issue #713 June 24-30; GearGuide column

    Even with overall sales of technology products relatively chill, the market for personal printers remains heated, with companies adding on features.

    The April Gear Guide column looked at colour laser printers with relatively high-prices because they were aimed at using the local area network to service an entire department. This month I'll look at models that are more affordable for the small office or home user. (And for good measure, I'll take a quick look at a digital projector that sets a new benchmark for affordability.)

    Epson Stylus Photo 900

    Epson's latest edition to its Sylus line of inkjet printers, the $300 Stylus Photo 900 can print directly onto CD or DVD discs.

    With consumers and business-users burning millions of blank discs each year, many will appreciate the ability to label them in an attractive, professional-looking manner. This feature may be especially appealing to businesses that make their own discs with product information for clients.

    The Stylus Photo 900 uses a special tray that holds the disc and is run through the printer's straight-through paper path. For best results, use ink-jet printable CD-R or DVD media, and print them after burning the data on. Print quality is good, but the relatively slow speed makes this an option for discs that are custom-burnt or produced in small quantities. It's not a replacement for commercial production of large quantities of discs.

    As the name suggests, the Stylus Photo 900 also offers high quality printing of digital photos and scans, including borderless printing at sizes from four by six inches to eight by 10 inches. And you can use the included roll paper holder to print multiple photo prints. Also offering good speed and quality on everyday printing tasks, its printing right onto blank discs is what makes this printer stand out from the crowd of medium-priced inkjet models.

    Lexmark Photo Jetprinter

    Digital camera-users may want to take a look at Lexmark's new $150 P707 Photo Jetprinter, the first model at that price to include slots for digital camera memory cards. A wide variety of card formats is supported, including Compact Flash, SmartMedia, Sony Memory Stick, Secure Digital (SD) and MultiMedia Card (MMC). (Users of new Fuji or Olympus cameras are out of luck, however; those cameras use yet another format: XD Picture Cards.) Along with the memory card slots, this printer features up to 4,800 dpi resolution, and six-colour borderless photo printing.

    HP Color LaserJet 1500

    HP's new Color LaserJet 1500 series printers by design do less than the big expensive models featured in the April Gear Guide, but prices starting at $1,200 set a new low for colour laser printers. Not aimed at corporate departments, HP is targeting home and small office users, offering print speeds of four pages per minute for colour and 16 ppm for black and white printing. With higher print speeds and lower cost per page than widely-used colour inkjet printers, it allows home and small office users to more easily print their own presentations, reports and brochures.

    Epson PowerLite projector

    Epson is also aiming at home and small office users with the $1,500 PowerLite S1 projector. With digital projectors typically costing more than the computers that they plug into, this model offers 1,200 lumens of projection power, and an 800x600 SVGA resolution.

    The bulb (with a replacement cost of $300) is rated for 1,200 hours of use. Weighing in at 7 lbs. (3.2 kg) with a built-in handle, it can be easily toted around, and can project onto a screen as close as 125 cm (four feet) away.

    Designed for PowerPoint presentations and home entertainment uses in small to mid-sized rooms, the PowerLite S1 sets a new low price-point for digital projectors.

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Alan Zisman is a Vancouver educator, writer, and computer specialist. He can be reached at E-mail Alan