Sharp output, easy setup make printer a winner

Sharp output, easy setup make printer a winner

The Phaser 840's solid-wax blocks

Athough it sports a hefty price tag, the Tektronix solid-wax Phaser 840 outshines other color printers

By Michael Cheek

GCN Staff

Tektronix solid-wax printers have always had one main advantage over color laser and ink-jet printers: transparency output with wonderfully vibrant colors.

The latest in the line, the Phaser 840, breaks out of the transparency niche. I dare anyone to compare its output against that of most color lasers and see whether the Phaser 840 delivers better accuracy, clarity and sharpness.

Solid-wax printers melt colored wax blocks to transfer text and images to paper. In the past, the thickness of the wax layer has been a drawback because it frequently causes sticking in an automatic copier feeder.

Not anymore.

Box Score''''
Phaser 840

Solid-wax printer

Tektronix Inc., Wilsonville, Ore.;

tel. 800-835-6100

Price: Basic model $2,472, Plus $3,163 and Extended $4,157 from National Institutes of Health Electronic Computer Store II

+Easy setup

+Crisp, vibrant output

'A little costlier than color lasers but worth it

As soon as my first page came out of the Phaser 840, I saw that the paper surface seemed slicker. Testing on a couple of copiers, I had no pages stick in the document feeders.

Not every copier feeder is guaranteed to produce similar good results. But Tektronix has indeed reduced the amount of wax on the printed page without sacrificing quality or vibrant colors.

Color lasers, including the Tektronix Phaser 740, require four toner cartridges and a lot of setup time. In contrast, the Phaser 840 was ready to print as soon as I dropped in the four colored ink blocks and let the unit warm up.

OK, so I had to install some software. But Tektronix has continued to improve there, too. As with the Phaser 740 laser printer [GCN, May 10, Page 33], getting the drivers onto the server and clients was relatively simple, especially when the network adapter found an appropriate address.

Text, photos and other graphics output looked very crisp at 1,200-dot-per-inch resolution. Tektronix also sells a base 1,000-dpi model with 32M of RAM.

The Plus and Extended models of the 840 have built-in duplex printing capability. The Plus comes with 64M of RAM and a 200-sheet tray. The Extended model has 128M of RAM, an additional 500-sheet tray and a 2G internal hard drive. Tektronix has simplified the driver windows so a user can select which features to use.''

Another excellent feature is a six-line LCD readout panel that shows extensive information about what the printer is doing and the options available. Many printers have only a single-line readout, making menus hard to shuffle through. The larger panel simplifies printer management.

Tektronix also includes its good Web management tools for checking up on printer status from any Web browser.

I have never used a good color printer that was as simple to operate as the Phaser 840. Even though it costs a little more than the Phaser 740, I suspect buyers will be happier with it.


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