Phaser 350 is the newly crowned king of transparencies

Last year, I lauded the Phaser 340 as the best color printer for transparencies. It
performed better than most color laser printers and cost much less.

Now the Phaser 350, which combines ink-jet and color laser processes, costs a little
less and gives even higher resolution. It's the heir-apparent to the 340 and just as
brilliant at output, but color laser printing is finally catching up. Still, the Phaser
350 has an edge color lasers can't even approach.

Canon USA Inc.'s CLBP 360PS and Hewlett-Packard Co.'s Color LaserJet 5/5M excel at
near-continuous-tone printing, which means you don't see a dot pattern [GCN, June 24,
1996, Page 33]. The Phaser 350's dot pattern is visible, especially in blends from one
color to another.

But the Phaser continues to excel as a transparency printer, and that's what it should
be used for. No color laser can lay down the amount of pigment needed to make overheads
truly spring to life.

The Phaser 350's solid wax inks produce 600- by 300-dot-per-inch output that looks
sharp, unlike some liquid ink-jet output. But the heavy wax buildup precludes two-sided
printing or automatic document feeding in a copier.

That heavy layer of hues is just what's needed for transparencies. No other printer can
come close to the color depth and brilliance on a thin sheet of acetate.

I found the printer setup relatively simple: Put in a waste collection tray and pop in
the four colored blocks of wax ink. Warmup took more than 20 minutes.

Networking the Phaser 350 was relatively straightforward, too: Assign it a TCP/IP
address using the four buttons and two-line LCD display. When it's up, you can check the
printer's status remotely with a World Wide Web browser. The Web page generated by the
printer should update itself-it didn't-and I wished for more control, especially for
listing documents in the queue.

If your office prints a lot of color transparencies, choose the Phaser 350. If you're
buying a single-color printer for paper output, look at a color laser or ink-jet instead.

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