Tektronix refreshes color printers, reduces pricing

Tektronix Inc. last week revamped its entire color printer line, unveiling four laser and solid-ink printers that cost as much as 50 percent less than existing models.

The announcement, the largest in Tektronix's history, was designed to dramatically lower the out-of-pocket cost for workgroups that want to purchase color printers.

"We're hoping that these products— because of their low price points— will help explode the market for color printers,'' said Souzie Monshi, a Tektronix product marketing manager. "People who never considered color printers will be able to afford these.''

In the federal government market, Tektronix color printers have been selling well, and resellers expect the new products and price cuts to prime the market further.

"Tektronix has remained one of our strongest color printer sellers. Sales have been very solid and consistent,'' said Stephanie Burwick-Caines, a marketing executive with reseller Government Technology Services Inc. During the summer buying season, GTSI "had a lot more customers buy in large quantities.''

She predicted that the new products will be popular because Tektronix is "offering the same kind of flexibility and options that the big monochrome printer manufacturers are offering, except they're offering it in color.''

The most significant of the new Tektronix offerings is the Phaser 740, which is an entry-level color laser printer that retails for $1,995— about half the cost of its predecessor, the Phaser 560. The 740 model has been completely redesigned and features all-new consumables, including toner cartridges and fusers that last much longer and cost 30 percent less than before, the firm said.

Getting a color laser printer for less than $2,000 with the Tektronix level of quality "is a miracle,'' Burwick-Caines said.

"The monochrome printer market has always been strong but is relatively flat. This price point is going to make a difference with the color printer market,'' Burwick-Caines predicted. "I think we'll see the whole color market open up.''

The Phaser 740 provides 1,200-by-1,200 dots-per-inch (dpi) resolution and prints at 5 pages per minute (ppm) in color and 16 ppm in black and white. It comes with 32M of RAM (more is optional) and built-in networking, including support for 10BaseT Ethernet. All the key printer standards, including Adobe PostScript 3 and PCL, are supported. A one-year on-site warranty comes bundled with the printer. Options include support for two-sided color copies.

Also new from Tektronix is the Phaser 740L, a stripped-down version of the 740 that provides only black-and-white laser printing but that can be upgraded to color. The 740L retails at $1,495, and the optional color kit costs $550. The only other differences between the 740 and the 740L are that that 740L comes with only 16M of RAM and a one-year return-to-depot warranty.

Both the 740 and the 740L are available immediately. One advantage of the 740L is that it is priced under the $1,500 limit for International Merchant Purchasing Authorization Card purchases, according to Tektronix officials, who hope the unit will be popular with federal buyers.

"The neat thing with the 740L is that government buyers working within a restricted budget can buy this printer in a large quantity and upgrade the ones that need color without having to buy new printers,'' Burwick-Caines said.

Solid-Ink Model Coming

Due out by January is the Phaser 840, which is the latest solid-ink printer from Tektronix, the pioneer of this color printing technology. Rather than a dramatic price drop, the 840 comes with extra features without more cost.

Retailing at $2,495 like its predecessor, the new 840 features improved resolution and speed. At its fastest, the 840 prints at 10 ppm in color— up from 6 ppm in the previous model.

Resolution also has been enhanced from 800-by-600 dpi to 1,200-by-600 dpi. As with earlier solid-ink printers, Tektronix will provide 840 buyers with free black ink. The 840 features support for the Universal Serial Bus as well as 10BaseT, comes with 32M of RAM and supports industry-standard printing technologies. Extra-cost options include support for two-sided copies and larger-capacity trays.

At the high end of the market, Tektronix unveiled its first color laser printer for large-size documents, specifically 11-by-17-inch pages. The Phaser 780 offers 1,200-by-600 dpi resolution and prints at 4 ppm for letter-size documents and 2 ppm for 11-by-17-inch documents. Like the 740 and 840, the 780 comes with 32M of RAM (more is optional), built-in networking and standards support. Geared mainly toward publishing shops, the 780 retails for $4,995 and will ship by December.

One additional feature on all four of the new Tektronix printers is scanner support, which enables users to print out copies of images when they do not have the original electronic files. All four printers also support World Wide Web-based network management via Tektronix Phaserlink software.

All these printers will be available on the General Services Administration schedule through GTSI and Entex Information Services Inc. Other contracts that will offer the printers include NASA's Scientific and Engineering Workstation II and the National Institutes of Health's Electronic Computer Store II, both through GTSI.

Tektronix, which specializes in color printers for office workgroups and printing professionals, does about 13 percent of its business with the federal government. The Wilsonville, Ore.-based company had revenues of $2.1 billion in fiscal 1998.

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