For many small-business owners, inkjet printers are the wave of the future. While the cost of laser printing (especially color laser printing) is often prohibitively high, new inkjet technology brings near-laser-quality printing to the small- or home-office user at very affordable prices. Color printing is increasingly popular among entrepreneurs who want to use bold color graphics to capture and hold their customers' attention. The newest inkjets make desktop publishing of professional quality newsletters, banners and fliers inexpensive and easy.
Inkjet printers work by using nozzles to spray ink onto paper. Color inkjets use combinations of anywhere from four to seven ink colors to achieve a wide range of color combinations. The key indicator of print quality for inkjets is called resolution and is measured in dots per inch (dpi). The speed of printing is measured in pages per minute (ppm). For each printer featured here, the maximum print resolution and maximum possible print speed are listed.
Be aware that at the maximum resolution, most printers cannot reach their maximum print speeds. True photo-quality color printing sometimes requires special paper to obtain ideal results and can be fairly time-consuming, depending on how graphic-intensive the image you're printing happens to be.
When shopping for an inkjet, know your computer's configuration and whether you'll be printing exclusively from Windows or from DOS-based applications. Ask to see a demonstration of the printer before you buy, be sure the warranty period fits your business needs, and prioritize features such as speed, quality and paper capacity to determine which printer is best for you.
Model: Lexmark 7000
Phone: (800) LEX-MARK
Print speed: 8 ppm black and white (b/w); 3 ppm color
Print resolution: 1200 x 1200 dpi
Paper capacity: 150 sheets
Extras: Lexmark Workshop CD-ROM software, LivePix CD-ROM Photo software
Estimated street price (ESP): $349
The Lexmark 7000 Color Jet printer uses Excimer laser-crafted print cartridges to deliver high-resolution results. The laser-crafted ink nozzles deliver ink drops more uniformly, resulting in crisper resolution. Lexmark's fast-drying, fade-resistant inks are waterproof in black and white, and the printer prints on greeting card stock, index cards, envelopes, transparencies and four different paper sizes (legal, letter, A4 and B5). Special driver technology uses on-screen ink-level indicators to keep you from running out of ink unexpectedly.
Model: Canon BJC-7000
Phone: (800) 848-4123
Print speed: 5 ppm b/w; 3.5 ppm color
Print resolution: 1200 x 600 dpi
Paper capacity: 130 sheets
Extras: Canon Creative CD-ROM; Letter Plus paper sample packet; black and white, color and photocolor printheads and ink tanks
The Canon BJC-7000 offers 100-percent water resistance in both black and white and color and uses a seven-color printing system. The BJC-7000 prints on index cards, glossy and plain paper, film, T-shirt transfers and fabric. Edge-to-edge printing on 81Â¦2-by-11-inch paper is another bonus. Canon says its photo-realistic printing matches the quality of 35mm film output, using new dual-printhead design and bilevel inks to achieve a wider range of color tones and more subtle hues.
Model: Apple Color StyleWriter 4500
Phone: (800) 538-9696
Print speed: 5 ppm b/w; 1.7 ppm color
Print resolution: 600 x 600 dpi b/w; 600 x 300 dpi color
Paper capacity: 100 sheets
Extras: PrintMaster Gold, Photo Enhancer Plus, Stencil It!, Web It! Art Explosion Sampler, Bitstream Fonts
Designed to work with Mac OS-based computers, the Apple Color StyleWriter 4500 prints on virtually anything: index cards, envelopes, transparencies and labels, as well as plain and coated paper. Apple's ColorSync color-matching technology combines six colors of ink rather than the usual four, to produce millions of different color possibilities. With ColorSync, the colors you see on your screen will more closely match the colors you see on the printed page. The StyleWriter 4500's paper input tray accepts 20 continuous-banner pages.
Model: Hewlett Packard DeskJet 890C
Phone: (800) 752-0900
Print speed: 9 ppm b/w; 5 ppm color
Print resolution: No information available
Paper capacity: 150 sheets
Hewlett Packard says its new PhotoREt II technology deposits a smaller ink-drop size than other desktop inkjet printers. More colors per printed dot maximize color print quality and performance, resulting in less graininess, smoother edges and better image resolution. The DeskJet 890C prints on plain and special paper, transparencies, labels and envelopes. The maximum print speed of 9 ppm is the highest of all our featured printers.
Model: Epson Stylus Color 600
Phone: (800) GO-EPSON
Print speed: 6 ppm b/w; 4 ppm color
Print resolution: 1440 x 720 dpi
Paper capacity: 100 sheets
Extras: Sierra Print Artist, Adobe Photo Deluxe, Adobe Home Publisher (Macintosh only)
The Epson Stylus Color 600 offers high-quality resolution at 1440 dpi. It uses special piezo electronic technology which utilizes electromechanical pressure rather than heat to place ink on paper. The result is greater consistency in dot shape and size. The Stylus Color 600 is PC- and Mac-compatible and can print from both platforms simultaneously. Epson's two-year warranty with toll-free technical support is a bonus--most other manufacturers offer only one-year warranties. It prints on card stock, envelopes, premium and plain paper in letter and legal sizes, transparencies, T-shirt transfers and continuous banner pages.
Model: NEC SuperScript 750C
Phone: (800) 632-4636
Print speed: 6 ppm b/w; 2 ppm color
Print resolution: 600 x 600 dpi
Paper capacity: 120 sheets
Extras: Broderbund Print Shop, NEC Media Sampler Pak
The most affordable inkjet featured here, NEC's SuperScript 750C offers five-color technology to help reduce color bleeding and improve contrast. NEC's variable drop-size technology varies the drop size of the ink dots, resulting in better overall contrast. Multiple quality settings are available, enabling users to choose between high-speed or high-quality settings. The SuperScript 750C prints on transparencies, T-shirt transfers, envelopes and plain and photo paper.
Apple Computer Inc., 1 Infinite Loop, MS 303-4PR, Cupertino, CA 95014
Canon Computer Systems Inc., http://www.ccsi.canon.com
Hewlett Packard, http://www.hp.com
NEC Technologies Inc., http://www.nec.com