Laser printers

Feds like the reliability of their HPs

By Richard W. Walker

GCN Staff

Laser printers are the workgroup workhorses, churning out page after page, day after day.

So what feds want most from their lasers is no mystery: reliability, durability, ease of use and'it almost goes without saying'high image quality.

And that's generally what they get'and expect'from Hewlett-Packard Co.'s LaserJet printers, the top-ranked lasers in the GCN survey.

'The HPs run like an HP'exceptionally well,' said David Shaw, a computer specialist with the Bankruptcy Applications Branch of the federal court system in Washington.

'They're top quality,' said Anne Germain, ADP coordinator for the Army at Fort Monmouth, N.J.

Germain's enterprise, like those of other feds GCN talked with, is using older, discontinued Hewlett-Packard models'LaserJet 4s and 5s, among them'that are still going strong after years of heavy-duty printing.

Hewlett-Packard lasers were the printers of choice among feds responding to our survey'82 percent use HP products.

User views

'The print quality is great.''

'Greg Senko, computer specialist, Geological Survey, Lemoyne, Pa., on Lexmark International laser printers

'We didn't care much for the [Tektronix] Phaser III'very finicky.''

'David Shaw, computer specialist, Bankruptcy Applications Branch, federal courts, Washington

Lasers from Lexmark International Inc. of Lexington, Ky., and Tektronix Inc. of Wilsonville, Ore., were a distant second and third, with installed bases of 6 percent and 3 percent, respectively.

In the quality rankings, users gave Tektronix lasers, second to HP's, a slight edge over Lexmark lasers.

Other laser brands with slivers of the market GCN looked at were IBM Corp.; Canon USA Inc. of Lake Success, N.Y.; Okidata Corp. of Mount Laurel, N.J.; Panasonic Communications and Systems Co. of Seacaucus, N.J.; Compaq Computer Corp.; NEC USA Inc. of Melville, N.Y.; and QMS Inc. of Mobile, Ala.

Together, these brands accounted for about 6 percent of the installed base in the market that was canvassed.

Most of the feds in the survey, 92 percent, reported using only monochrome laser printers. About 20 percent use color lasers or a combination of monochrome and color lasers.

About 70 percent of users in the survey said their printers were attached to a LAN.

Shaw's office has on hand an array of older HP monochrome lasers chosen for high-capacity printing.

Like other feds spoken with, Shaw said his office has another brand or two tossed into the printer mix, usually designated for a special purpose, such as presentation graphics.

Print purpose

In his case, it's a couple of Tektronix 560 Extend color lasers bought about two years ago to print slides, glossies and other materials.

'It's a wonderful printer,' Shaw said of the 560. 'It provides outstanding print quality. We specced a number of color printers before we chose that one and it turned out to be the best.'

Shaw wishes only that the printer had a higher paper capacity, handled large, tabloid formats and printed a just a little faster.

Of the 560's sometimes-sluggish printing speed, he speculated that 'part of it could be because it's being run through a network, and the way we're doing things kind of slows things down sometimes.'

At Fort Monmouth, Germain's office also has a Tektronix 560 for color printing. 'The graphics person uses it to do briefings and things like that,' she said.

Germain's experience with the Tektronix has been mixed. 'When I first got here, about a year ago, it was nothing but trouble,' she said. 'It kept jamming and everything else. Finally, our computer repair people completely overhauled it and replaced certain parts. Since then, it's been absolutely beautiful. The print quality is gorgeous.'

Users of Lexmark International printers that GCN talked with offered largely favorable verdicts.

At the Geological Survey in Lemoyne, Pa., computer specialist Greg Senko said his office uses a group of Lexmark printers, including a color printer used for more elaborate graphics such as maps.

'They've been very reliable,' he said.'' Senko's only complaint? The cost of ink cartridges. 'None of them are cheap,' he said.

At the Bureau of Land Management in Cedar City, Utah, district engineer Eric Mullins described his department's experience with its four Lexmark Optra lasers as 'not bad, better than average.'

Government Computer News survey: laser printers
to screen
Hewlett-Packard Co.7389828483717974
Tektronix Inc.68905090100806060
Lexmark International Inc.6678727278657183

Ease of
Cost of
Hewlett-Packard Co.727072744552
Tektronix Inc.808050704040
Lexmark International Inc.787267563928

The Government Computer News Product Preference Survey is designed to give federal buyers detailed quantitative data on specific computer and communications products, as rated by federal users.

The survey also measures the relative importance of product attributes in selection of those products.

This survey on laser printers was part of a questionnaire mailed to 4,000 federal readers of GCN who on their subscription application forms identified themselves as buyers and users of laser printers. We received 334 responses to this part of the questionnaire.

The lasers in the survey were chosen because they represent the bulk of such products used in government. This report lists results only for those brands that received at least nine responses.

The overall rating for each company was developed by averaging all individual attribute scores.

Top scores are in red.


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