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    Printers for all occasions

    Models for text, photos, travel
    by  Alan Zisman (c) 2004 First published in Business in Vancouver April 27-May 3, 2004; issue 757; Gear guide
    You wouldn't wear the same clothes to the office and to the beach, would you? It's the same with computer printers: different printers are designed for different settings, for different needs. Here are four winners, all of which work with both Macintosh and Windows.

    Xerox Phaser 8400Xerox's Phaser 8400 will fit right in for the office or workgroup. It stands out from the crowd of colour laser printers with its print speed (up to 28 pages per minute) and ease of setup. It uses solid-colour and black inks, rather than the more common powder toners; it ships with the inks already installed, ready to go (after a few minutes warm-up).

    Installing the networked version, a chore with many such printers, was quick and easy. The setup program simply found the printer on the network and connected to it. High-quality photos printed on plain paper popped out of the printer quickly.

    Pricing starts at $1,400 for the base model, rising to $1,850 with Ethernet networking, $2,400 with duplexing, and $3,550 for a version with two paper trays and a hard disk.

    Epson Stylus Photo R800Ink jet printers have become commonplace, and most newer models can print acceptable photos onto glossy photo paper. Epson's $550 Stylus Photo R800 lives up to its claim of being the "ultimate photo printer," printing with a set of 8 UltraChrome Hi-Gloss pigment inks, rather than the four colours most commonly used. (A money saver: each colour is replaceable separately).

    The results are a larger colour range for better quality photo printing and prints that Epson claims should last at least 80 years. Comparing printouts from the Photo R800 with the same photos printed on my two-year-old printer supports Epson's claims: the R800's output showed more clarity and richer colours.

    As with some other Epson models, you can print directly onto CDs as well.

    HP Deskjet 450HP and Canon target laptop-toting road warriors with a pair of 2 kg, briefcase-sized $500 models.

    HP's Deskjet 450wbt updates last year's 450cbi model. The new version adds wireless Bluetooth printing along with the standard parallel and USB ports, plus infrared. It includes a battery and AC adapter.

    A secret feature on the Deskjet model: remove the Bluetooth card and it can print directly from the Compact Flash memory card used in some digital cameras. Other nice touches include a plastic ink cartridge case to avoid spillage during transport, and a business-card slot on the bottom.

    Canon i80For the same price, Canon's i80 portable printer (an update of last year's i70) offers better print quality and faster print speeds. Photos print nearly twice as fast, while text-heavy pages print more than three times as fast. While lacking the Deskjet's Compact Flash slot, if your digital camera or camcorder supports the Pict-Bridge standard, it can plug directly into the printer - no computer required.

    HP's model includes a battery and Bluetooth wireless connectivity, but both are added-cost extras with the i80, though USB and infrared ports are built in.

    The infrared ports on both of these models can be used to print from many Palm and Pocket PC PDAs while Bluetooth can be used to print from an increasing number of PDAs and even cell phones.

    There they are: a printer for the office, a printer for your photos, and two printers you can take to the beach.

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