HP, Lexmark debut new printers at both ends of market

Printer market rivals Hewlett-Packard Co. and Lexmark International Inc. both announced new printers in the last week each targeting different parts of the market with prices ranging from less than $250 to nearly $15 000. Lexmark introduced a color ink-jet printer that can serve small offices while HP announced a pair of its trademark LaserJet laser printers at the low and high ends of that market segment. Lexmark's Jetprinter 2050 provides high-end color ink-jet speed and resolution at a low price. It combines 600-by-600 dots per inch resolution with black page print speeds of five pages per minute in draft mode. In letter-quality mode it produces four pages per minute of black print and one page of color. Because Lexmark uses dual print heads in the Jetprinter 2050 it can print true black as well as colors. In fact the black ink is a new waterproof formula that Lexmark promises will not fade in sunlight. The company also employs the third generation of its Windows printing system software which returns cursor control to the user more quickly by sending the file to be printed to the disk drive first. This means that buyers will spend less time waiting after they click on the print icon. The color ink-jet market once was considered primarily to be made up of home computer buyers but that is changing said Alyson Frasco senior analyst for International Data Corp. "They are starting to gain acceptance in large organizations " she said. The improved print quality and speed of newer ink-jet printers along with the bonus of color make the printers attractive to companies and agencies for use on desktops. "There is a large interest in this market " said Roman Ferrer team leader peripherals for Government Technology Solutions Inc. The stand-alone color ink-jet market will give way to more expensive shared color laser printers he said. Lexmark also bundles a CD-ROM that is loaded with specialty printing tools and Netscape Navigator 2.0 software for Internet access. ArcSoft PhotoImpression software lets customers apply custom effects to photographs MonoType Certificate Maker lets managers produce achievement awards for workers. Lexmark also includes SoftKey Labels Unlimited software for producing mailing labels. Also catering to the consumer market with the Jetprinter 2050 Lexmark includes greeting card software T-shirt design software and comic book creation software. Lexmark is targeting budget-minded customers with the Jetprinter 2050 the company estimates its General Services Administration schedule price will be $246 or less. AmeriData Federal Systems GTSI and Entex Information Systems are among the resellers that offer Lexmark printers on their GSA schedules. HP also is eyeing the low end of the printer market with its new LaserJet 5L Xtra laser printer. Like Lexmark's ink-jet printer the LaserJet 5L Xtra prints documents at 600-by-600 dpi resolution and at four pages per minute. The printer has an EconoMode draft print setting that uses half as much toner and cuts costs to just a penny a page. The Xtra is an open-market-only product according to Deirdre Posey HP marketing manager for GTSI. The company has a nearly identical version of the printer called the LaserJet 5L FS. The new LaserJet's claim to fame is an instant-on fuser which eliminates warm-up time. This lets the printer scroll out its first page of a print job in just 20 seconds the company said. HP uses its Enhanced LaserJet Printing System for Windows and HP Memory Enhancement technology to print complex documents quickly and return cursor control. These features help the LaserJet 5L Xtra produce 32 pages as quickly as other laser printers rated at six pages per minute according to the company. HP bundles Netscape Navigator Personal Edition 2.0 on a CD-ROM included with the printer with bookmarks in the browser already set to contact HP's support pages on the World Wide Web. It also includes business software such as 101 Personal Letters Avery Label Pro 2.0 for Windows Bitstream Fonts Font-Smart and HP's Personal Information Manager. The FontSmart software adds 70 TrueType fonts to the printer's built-in 26 fonts and provides management tools for them. The consumer software includes Greetings for Windows and Family Health Tracker. The LaserJet 5L Xtra has a 100-sheet main paper tray and a straight paper path alternate tray that helps prevent wrinkles in envelopes and heavy paper stock. GTSI's GSA schedule price for the LaserJet 5L PS is $444. AmeriData Entex GTSI Pulsar Data Systems Inc. and Zenith Data Systems all sell HP LaserJet printers on their GSA schedules. High End At the high end of the laser printer market HP has introduced a new network printer the HP 5000 D640 which is rated at 40 pages per minute and has a duty cycle of 300 000 pages per month. The starting price $14 995 is 40 percent lower than comparable products according to the company. HP also says the D640 will cost about 25 percent less to operate than similar printers. The 840M internal hard disk drive holds 56 preloaded font sets which total about 1 000 fonts. The company has made this network printer user-installable which is unusual in this class of printer. The various consumables in the printer can be replaced without using any tools so maintenance is easier. The integrated serial and parallel bitronics interfaces for connecting to Ethernet and Token-Ring networks let the D640 connect directly to a network using the HP JetDirect EX network interface. Agencies that need a high-volume high-dollar printer can place orders for the HP 5000 D640 after Sept. 1 HP plans to start shipping them in November.

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