Which PostScript laser printer? SUMMARY

From: Clark Burdick (clark@riffle.stanford.edu)
Date: Thu May 27 1993 - 17:58:17 CDT

Thanks to everybody that replied to my post requesting information about
which PostScript laser printer to purchase. I would have liked to thank each
respondent individually, but I received nearly 200 responses! Given the
apparent level of interest, I thought I would summarize the information
I received.

The response were divided roughly 50-50 between favoring HP LaserJet4m
over Sun's SPARCprinter and visa versa (so much for helping me make up
my mind :-) ). The decision seems to boil down to whether you want more
pages per minute (SPARCprinter) or more dots per inch (LaserJet4m).

The basic information about these two printers is:

Sun's SPARCprinter (SP)
        300-400 dpi
        12 pages per minute
        s-bus connection
        NeWSprint software

HP LaserJet4m (LJ)
        600 dpi
        8 pages per minute
        parallel or serial connection

Other major points of interest are:

1. The higher printing speed of the SP comes at the cost of noticeable
   overhead imposed on the host CPU. The level of overhead was
   characterized as being anywhere from marginal to horrific.

2. There is a "floating point character displacement" bug in the
   PostScript simm on the HP. This bug seems to particularly nasty
   for TeX users. HP claims to be shipping a replacement simm, but
   there is some question as to whether it fixes the bug. HP was
   less than pleased to have this bug revealed on the USENET :-)
   There do seem to be versions of dvips that avoid the bug, and
   I am confident that HP will fix the problem eventually.

3. Supplies (toner etc...) for the SP are more expensive. How much
   more expensive depends on your vendor. I do not have accurate
   information on the life of toner cartridges for these printers,
   but the SP occasionally (~every three toner cartridges) requires
   replacement of the printer drum.

4. The 8ppm speed of the LJ will be substantially reduced if the
   serial interface is used. A network interface is best, but requires
   a JetDirect card; the parallel interface is ok, and the serial
   is only a last resort (the parallel port on a SPARCclassic is

5. The SP is not a true PostScript printer. Sun's NeWSprinter software
   converts everything to a raster image before printing. The NeWSprint
   software seems to be somewhat buggy. Many people complained about
   having to purchase NeWSprint upgrades, and it is an added pain during
   upgrades to the operating system.

6. The SP requires an S-bus connection in addition to NeWSprint. By
   comparison, the LJ will work with Sun's, PC's, and Mac's. With
   the SP you lose both disk space and an S-bus slot.

7. The LJ does NOT require Adobe's transcript software under Solaris2.x.
   Solaris2.x will support PostScript printers on it's own. (However,
   I really like the enscript command from transcript and I don't know
   if Solaris2.x supports anything similar.)

8. Many people felt that 600 dpi was excessive given the current
   300 dpi standard.

9. The IBM 4029 printer was mentioned as a possible alternative, but
   I have had such poor experiences with IBM printers in the past
   that I am ruling it out even though it does offer 600 dpi at 10 ppm.

10. The Panasonic KX-P4455 is a possible alternative that I need to

11. I found HP's LaserJet hotline to be ill equipped to answer
    pre-purchase technical questions.

Once again I want to stress that the responses ran about 50-50 between
the SP and the LJ. There were roughly an equal number of people who
loved/hated HP, Sun and their printers.

Thanks to everybody who replied (either by mail or post). If anybody
feels that their comments have been misrepresented, omitted, or ignored
I apologize.

By way of a disclaimer:
Although I have no reason to doubt the validity of any of the information I received, I have not verified it myself, and I do not claim any of the information in this post to be fact.

Clark Burdick

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