Phaser 740N gives low-cost color output

In October, Tektronix Inc. shook up the printer market with the announcement of the first $2,000 workgroup color printer, the Phaser 740. We recently had the opportunity to test one of these models and found it to be a good buy for government agencies that want to bring quality color printing to the masses.

We reviewed the Tektronix 740N, which prints at 600-by-600 dots-per-inch (dpi) resolution in color and 1,200-by-1,200-dpi resolution in black and white. Overall, we found the 740N's 600-dpi resolution to be more than adequate for standard office color printing. Tektronix uses automatic color correction and special inks that are not grainy - even on regular copy paper - to achieve good quality images at 600 dpi. At 1,200 dpi, the colors are more intense, and the images are almost photo-quality. Our panel of graphics specialists found the color at both resolutions to be "pretty good.'' At 1,200 dpi, they found the images to be "very crisp'' and "perfectly clean.''

As far as speed is concerned, the 740N was faster at 600 dpi than seven workgroup color printers that we tested last April - for about half the price of those systems. One 600-dpi task we performed finished a full minute and 10 seconds faster than the fastest printer in the April comparison. However, the 740N was one of the slowest at 1,200 dpi, completing our three print tests with a total time of one hour, 38 minutes and six seconds. Nonetheless, we found this performance to be quite strong given that the new Tektronix printer was the only one of the eight to print at full 1,200-dpi resolution.

Setup of the 740N proved relatively simple. Handles are built into the sides of the printer, making it easy to remove the printer from the carton. A quick-start manual walks you through unpacking and setting up the printer. The manual shows how to install the toner cartridges, which are color-coded and impossible to install in the wrong slots. The imaging unit locks down with the simple push of a handle. Installing the paper tray is easy because it is clearly labeled and marked in the setup guide.

Last of all, we installed the power cord and network cable. Network setup proved a little trickier than we expected. The 740N comes with a Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol (DHCP) option, which should have automatically assigned an Internet Protocol address to the unit but didn't. After a little trouble-shooting and a call to Tektronix, we discovered that the printer occasionally has trouble with DHCP if it is making multiple hops across switches installed on the network. One option is to move the network printer connection to the switch into which the server is plugged. The other option is to manually assign the printer a dedicated IP address by using the front control panel. Both options worked for us, although we preferred the latter.

Management, through the control panel or a World Wide Web browser, is where the 740N shines. The LCD menus on the control panel let the network administrator manually implement policies and manage the printer. However, a better way to manage the printer is with a Web browser. From any location on the Internet, the administrator can type in the IP address of the printer and log on to the unit. The administrator then can view the status of the printer and set up printer defaults, network options and protocols. The 740N also will notify the administrator via e-mail if the printer has a problem.

Overall, we liked the 740N very much. It provides good color images, prints them quickly and is affordable. We found it hard to fault this printer in any area. If your agency is looking for workgroup color printers, consider the 740N.

The 740N comes with 32M of memory, built-in 10M Ethernet, 136 fonts and a single 250-sheet paper tray. The 740N is rated at five pages per minute in color and 16 ppm in black and white. Optional coaxial input, AppleTalk or Token Ring modules also are available. The street price for the 740N is $1,995, and Government Technology Services Inc. carries it on the General Services Administration schedule for $2,069.

For an additional cost, you can buy the 740DX, which offers extra paper trays, a 4G SCSI hard drive, 128M of memory and a duplexing unit. The DX model also revs up the color printing capability to 1,200 dpi. The estimated street price of the 740DX is $3,595. GTSI sells the 740DX for $4,261 on its GSA schedule. Both 740 models come with a one-year, on-site service warranty.


Tektronix Inc.

(800) 835-9433

Score: B+

Price and Availability: The Phaser 740N is available on GTSI's GSA schedule for $2,069. For more information, call (800) 999-4874.

Remarks: This is a quality color printer at an exceptionally low price. Definitely consider this system for your workgroup color printing needs.

Jan. 11, 1999

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