Tektronix is cleaning up

Changing the toner or cartridges in printers can be a messy job at times. So Tektronix is doing something about it with its Phaser 840 Color Printer.

ComputerWorld Canada staff recently had the opportunity to use and test the printer, and we were anything but disappointed.

Probably the most interesting feature, and what makes it different from the other printers out there today, is its solid-ink technology. The unit employs solid sticks of colour instead of inkjets or toners to deliver speed and image consistency. Similar to wax crayons, ColorStixs fit into easily-accessible slots under a panel on the top of the printer. The crayons come in different colour-specific shapes which correspond to similarly shaped slots. The system makes loading the crayons foolproof, and you don’t have to wait until a reservoir is depleted to add another.

We found this very helpful and a definite advantage when using the printer.

As well, when a page is printed, the ink comes out dry and won’t smudge or smear. If you print something that’s very colour-dense on an inkjet printer, for example, it will come out wet and is likely to smear until the ink dries. Now, that said, there is one consideration to keep in mind – because the solid-ink technology is somewhat like crayons, the colour can be scraped off. Scratching a fingernail across the surface, for example, will damage the image.

We were also impressed with the high quality and glossy-type look of the printed images. Unfortunately, though, if you want to print an image with a big block of light colour, it will print with a grainy look. If on the other hand a picture has many small colour areas, varied in darkness and lightness, the print-out looks fabulous.

Also on the positive side was the printer’s speed, although this does vary with the program used, as some of the software wasn’t quite as fast as others. CorelDraw was very fast, PageMaker wasn’t quite so fast and PowerPoint was relatively slow.

As for setting up the software and printer on the company’s network, it was very easy to do without any significant problems.

So overall we were impressed with the printer and if your organization is looking for a unit that will offer high quality and speed, this product may be worth checking out. However, price is one drawback. From our point of view, we can’t justify paying approximately $5,495 for the Phaser 840 when our $700 HP DeskJet 1120 C performs adequately.