Low-cost QMS color laser printer will cost you in quality

Low-cost QMS color laser printer will cost you in quality

By Mark A. Kellner

Special to GCN

From the earliest days of clunky, noisy, dot-matrix printers that ripped through paper and had only the most rudimentary fonts in black, what I have wanted from printers is simply more: more capability, speed, resolution, fonts and colors.

QMS Inc. offered me a review unit, a desktop color laser printer, that promised more: sharp printing, vivid color and a low price of $1,299. That's little more than half the cost of Hewlett-Packard Co.'s least expensive color laser, which lists for $2,499.

Monochrome lasers perform well and are inexpensive. Color ink-jets can at times produce stunning results. But a color laser is king of the hill. It should deliver the ultimate in color and supersharp text.

The Magicolor 2 Desklaser for systems running Microsoft Windows 9x and NT did not.'It had 600- by 600-dot-per-inch resolution plus parallel and Ethernet interfaces, but no Universal Serial Bus port. It consistently printed well only on standard laser paper or self-adhesive labels.

Box Score''''''''''''

Magicolor 2 Desklaser

Desktop color laser printer

QMS Inc.; Mobile, Ala.;

tel. 800-523-2696


+ Decent color printing on plain paper and labels

' Uneven to poor quality on card stock

' Only one paper tray

The test unit managed to crease envelopes despite precise loading of the paper tray. I tried laser-compatible card stock for business cards and saw half the cards emerge unusable as the toner flaked off.

A QMS executive advised me to use the thick-paper setting, available among the software drivers. I made the selection but it didn't work.

Although the Magicolor 2 Desklaser is considered a desktop printer, QMS targets it to small workgroups. I can imagine the fun and games when Sally is trying to print cards, Fred wants to run off transparencies, and Martha needs to get a letter out pronto. It'll be enough to send them screaming to the instant-print shop or e-mail.

Uneven job

The toner supply was more than sufficient for light to moderate use, considering that black is the most heavily used. Plain-paper copies were sharp.

But the uneven quality on cards and envelopes, as well as the grueling task of removing and readjusting the paper tray and its guides each time an envelope needed printing, put the unit out of consideration for a workgroup.

QMS sells additional paper trays as options'something that would cut down on the readjustments. HP throws in two standard paper trays with its $2,499 model.

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