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The Southern California OS/2 User Group
P.O. Box 26904
Santa Ana, CA 92799-6904, USA

July 2000

Printing and Scanning
on the OS/2 Platform

by Tony Butka

Greetings, INK fans, I'm back from a couple of conferences and raring to go! First, at the June Government Technology Conference in sunny Sacramento, I was able to briefly talk to the folks at Lexmark and Epson. While these are not OS/2 savvy people, there are a couple of very interesting developments.

Lexmark is aware of the shortage of Inkjet cartridges -- I'm told that their plans for bringing a factory or two on line were delayed, but this situation is expected to be remedied within a few months. In the meantime, don't look for real cheap cartridges unless you know how to refill. Also, there is a new generation of inkjets in the works, along the lines of the Optra Color 40, but I suspect with higher resolution. In the meantime, the Z51 is Lexmark's current model. It is cheap and produces good images, but does not have an on board processor (shades of the 5700 ). It does have OS/2 drivers (yea Lexmark), but as with all "Winprinters" you can't stuff memory in it and it will run relatively slow on complex images.

Epson has released a new series of high resolution inkjets that have archival, that's right, claimed archival inks! I saw the letter sized Photo 870 (about $300) and the output of the 870 I saw in Sacramento looked very nice indeed, with a color gamut rivaling the older inks There is also a big brother, the 1270 ($499 list). The 1270 has a maximum printable area of 12.76" x 43.76"! That means essentially full bleed (the entire size of the paper), with a top minimum margin of 0.12"! As if this was not enough, the printers come with both USB and parallel ports, and you can get an optional ethernet network adapter. But wait, sports fans, there's more! The 870 comes with a roll paper handler (additional option with the 1270). With this goodie you can load a 26 foot roll of special 4x6" paper for about $20 and do your very own digital photo lab prints at about 48 seconds/print. Can you tell I'm jazzed?

For those who don't remember earlier columns, one of the big issues with inkjets has been how long the pictures will last without fading or shifting color. Until now the 4 color prints were good for around 4 years, and the 6 color ones just 2 yrs. That's right, much less than 4 color. Grrh! Certainly not long enough to sell those wonderful images you've created to your friends for money, only to have them call you up a year later to gripe that their neat photo has deteriorated. And a further problem has been that the long lasting inks just didn't look as spiffy as the regular ones (called color gamut for the techies). The new inks are rated at about 10 years, and with a special new Epson matte paper about 24 years plus. So this news is a very cool development and once again sends Epson to the head of the pack. I hope that these printers will work with the OS/2 Omni drivers. They may with a few tweaks to an existing driver, but I'm told the print heads are slightly different than the old ones. I just may break down and buy one to find out if a few tweaks will work In the meantime, if any of you can't wait, let me know how the printer works for you.

Just to round out their rout, there is a new Photo 875DC, which is essentially the 870 with a built-in PCMCIA digital film reader slot, so you can directly plug your digital camera's flash card into the printer. I was hoping that this would let you directly load and print without using your computer [read no driver problems], but (sigh) no such luck. According to the spec sheet, the only drivers are for Win98. I'll rejoin the Epson newsgroup and see what the buzz is on these printers. In the meantime, the Epson website has a bunch of factory refurbished printers with warranty at good prices. For example, as of this writing they had the following:

  • Stylus Color 1520 $374.25
  • Stylus Color 640 $ 96.75
  • Stylus Color 740 $119.00
  • Stylus Color 850 $186.75
  • Stylus Color 900 $299.25
  • Stylus Photo 700 $134.25

The warranties on all of these printers is 1 year, and OS/2 Omni drivers work with all of them, unlike the new models where you sometimes have to wait (and pray) for driver support. I can personally recommend the Photo 700, as this is the one I currently use to test papers and photographic printing under OS/2.

See you next month! Reach me at

You might want to read last month's Ink.

By day, Tony Butka is a bureaucrat for Los Angeles County. In his other life he lives in a loft surrounded by computers, printers, and a host of vinyl records.