Me And My Printer

By Ray Thomas, John Woodhams & Terry Monaghan

Originally published in EUG #04

Introduction

Back in EUG #1, Electroneers were invited to send details about their printers so that the rest of us could get an idea what machines are available and what we could expect from them. Quite a few people have been good enough to supply what can best be described as full blown product reviews!

Of course, a certain amount of information has been received several times over, showing that a few machines are particular favourites with Electron owners - Star printers (Various models) seeming to be the most popular. Over the next few pages, users tell us about the machines they use, in their own words.

Panasonic KX-P1624

Make: Panasonic
Model: KX-P1624
Cost New: £350 (Including cable and VAT)
Paper Feed: Top, bottom, front, back, traction, friction and single sheets (A cut sheet feeder is available for another £129 but I consider this to be a luxury for a private individual).

DIP switch? What's that? Haven't got any, thank you. Instead, there is an EZ Set Operator Panel situated on the front of the printer. This makes setting and changing settings very easy once you know the sequence. There are six font options built in - graphics and screen dumps have not been tried yet and I think I'll buy Slogger's Click before I attempt it.

The User Manual is better than nothing, but could be made much simpler. It gives lots of information on what can be done, which seems to be quite a lot, but some examples would have been of help. Having said that, I still have a great deal to learn about BASIC programming and machine code which may contribute to my lack of understanding. On the other hand, I may be just thick. [Don't believe that! - Will]

Repairs? When the thing arrived, it would not do a self-test, in that the print head moved up and down at ferocious speed, making all the right noises but the paper remained blank. A quick phonecall to the suppliers (Watford Electronics) solved the problem. I was advised to undo the two screws holding the print head to the machine a couple of turns and to move the print head as far towards the paper as possible.

Unfortunately I had to remove the glue which had secured the screws before I could move the print head forward, as it was built up on the plastic behind each screw head. This I did by scraping with a sharp screw driver. On tightening the head down again in the fully forward position, I at last produced print on paper. There is also a lever on the left side which allows for different thicknesses of paper, envelopes and carbon copies by moving the print head away from the platen to accommodate the thicker stuff.

Noise levels: I tried printing in 'Quiet Mode' and did not notice any difference apart from the fact that it took two passes to print a line, which made it slower, but not quieter. I would describe the noise level as very acceptable.

Why did I buy this model? I wanted a wide carriage printer so that I could produce spreadsheets and forms for work in landscape to save myself time and effort. So, for a small extra outlay, I have a much more useful machine and much more value for money. I wanted 24 pins and letter quality. I think I'm going to be very pleased with this machine and would recommend it to anyone. The time taken to print all the text in the review you've just read in "Courier" at line space 1, pitch 17 and twelve letters per inch was 57 seconds.

Terry Monaghan

Amstrad DMP-2000

I have an Amstrad DMP-2000 printer purchased second-hand at a Car Boot sale for £45. The machine has friction and tractor feed and although I have no manual or instructions, I find it quite easy to use. The DIP switches are the usual small fiddly things but they are readily accessible from the back. The print speeds are as follows:

DRAFT MODE - 44 lines per minute, 58 characters per second and 40 pages per hour.
NLQ MODE - 10.476 lines per minute, 13 characters per second and nine pages per hour.

There seem to be only two fonts available and a double strike facility, but perhaps someone with a manual could dispute this? The machine performs well in graphics mode with Slogger's screen dump ROM. The printer does not make an awful lot of noise and in the year of ownership I have had no trouble with it.

Ray Thomas

Olivetti JP101

I see that I am not alone in being the owner of an Olivetti JP101 printer. I bought mine from Watford Electronics and have never had any trouble in obtaining ink cartridges from them. I hope this situation will continue as it has been a good little printer and is very quiet to run. The cartridges now cost £9.00 plus VAT and carriage (for a set of four).

I don't know of any other supplier of this item, but perhaps someone else does. The drawback is, of course, that there is no NLQ which is why most of my letters and any important stuff gets printed on the Panasonic KXP1124 which I bought a year or two back at a computer fair in the G-Mex centre, Manchester.

The Panasonic, with its resident fonts, gives very good print quality but of course, is a lot noisier than the Olivetti!

I am sure many people would get a lot more out of their printers if manufacturers were to provide really user-friendly manuals with them. Maybe in the future you will be able to have a chat with your printer and just tell it what you would like it to do!

I recently purchased, also from Watford Electronics, a compact 2-way printer switch so that I could switch from one printer to the other without hassle. The inkjet is still very useful for listings and labels and the quietness is handy when you want a draft of something late on. The Olivetti also has a graphics capability which I haven't had time to explore yet.

J. Woodhams


Postscript

I had intended to include pictures of sample printouts from various machines in this issue of EUG but the photocopying of them turned almost everything into black and white hence the subtle differences in 'tone' when comparing a Star LC10 with a Panasonic were all but lost.

If you own a printer and feel we should hear about its good and/or bad points, please send us the details. Reading a manufacturer's description is one thing, but getting an opinion from a day to day user can be far more telling!

If you want to time the printing speed of your machine, a neat little program discovered and sent by Ray Thomas will help take the hard work out of things.

Will Watts, EUG #4