By Adam Foster
After using a knackered old Star LC-10 for several years with my ST, I was looking forwards to getting a new printer. But which one?
The choice now is pretty bewildering, with lasers, inkjets, bubblejets, dot-matrices and a couple of other rarer types. As my mum does a colossal amount of typing on this ST, it needed to be quick, easy to use, and relatively cheap to run. After some thought, we decided on a Hewlett-Packard DeskJet 600 (which I will refer to from now on as the DeskJet), along with a copy of Papyrus to replace First Word which my mum was using.
The printer arrived after a couple of days, and we unpacked it, immediately discovering that a printer cable was not supplied, so we used the one off the Star (the rest of it was immediately relegated to the PC upstairs). It was plugged into the ST and into the little power-pack it comes with, and the cartridge unwrapped and fitted.
|I set up Papyrus to the 'HP-DeskJet 500' driver (this requiring a massive two clicks) and set it to print a page. The paper popped out remarkably quickly compared to the Star, and the print quality, although smudged ever so slightly on the right hand side, was excellent. And that was at 300dpi, so now to try 600dpi using the HP LaserJet 4L driver...|
This page took about four times as long to output, and the text looked very similar, only being slightly smoother. A small GEM metafile looked a lot better, as the dithering filling it was a lot finer, and the b‚zier curves lost that slightly 'bitty' look. The page also lost a lot of the 'smudged' look too.
I then decided to set up all the other programs I had to use the DeskJet. First up was First Word, somewhat aptly. I needed the control codes to generate a new driver, so I opened the DeskJet's manual. Big mistake. Not a single code was mentioned, and the words 'control codes' only appeared in the 'Printing from DOS' supplement once or twice, with details of how to get a technical manual. So I gave up on that.
Next were all my GDOS programs. I 'borrowed' the GDOS driver from Timeworks II, and created a new ASSIGN.SYS file (I'm getting NVDI 4 soon, in case you're wondering!) with all the fonts I wanted. I rebooted, and tried Timeworks. This worked perfectly, the only problem being the page margins, which had previously been set for the Star. So no problem there, then. All the others worked too, and gave good quality output.
I have had the printer for several months now, and it has printed several hundred pieces of paper for my mum, and a couple for me and my sisters. There have been no problems at all, with either the hardware or the software. My sister used it last night to print a superb Second World war newspaper for a history project, complete with scanned images in large numbers. Needless to say, it did this superbly.
Overall, it is a very good printer, with only a few, minor, problems.
Be careful where you get one though, as some claim that the optional
colour kit is 'free', when it isn't really. Expect to pay about
œ170-180 excluding VAT. And you can throw the free Lotus WordPro
demonstration CD-ROM in the bin, where it belongs [nah... they make
great frizbies - FFF].