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New printers from Hewlett Packard

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Hewlett Packard has launched a new series of DesignJet printers, aimed at both the architecture and graphics markets. The largest machine, the 5000, is aimed at the printing of, for instance, oneoff posters, but the smaller 500 and 800 series have architects in their target market.

The advantages of the new products, says the company, include increased speed, image quality and 'unattendedness' - the ability to be left to get on with the job. The 500 series replaces the 400 and is aimed at single users or small groups. The 800 replaces the 700 and is intended for groups of 3-10 users. Also available are the 500PS and the 800PS (both with postscript) which the company sees as primarily tools for the graphics markets, although it says the 800PS in particular is a product for CAD workgroups as well.

Prices are reasonable, varying from £1,650 for the smaller (61cm) DesignJet 500 to £6,000 for the larger (107cm) version, the 800PS. The company is still criticised about the prices of its consumables, however.

Hewlett Packard has changed its distribution network in the UK, and these new products will be obtainable from only two distributors, RES and Art Systems.

Amid all the hype, the main message is that presentation is becoming ever more important, and standards and expectations continue to rise.

Architects need to be able to produce high-quality images, to mix drawings and visualisations and graphics, and to do this quickly. Hewlett Packard already has a fantastically secure footing in the architectural market; as it pushes harder into the graphics market, these improved printers for architects seem a bit of a byproduct, but one that has been well rated by experts.

Independent US testing house SpencerLab carried out a comparative evaluation of the DesignJet 800PS and the Epson SP9000. It wrote in its report, 'Although Hewlett Packard's top-of-the-line DesignJet series printers have previously led Epson's in throughput speed performance, with the introduction of the HP DesignJet 800PS Hewlett Packard has sponsored head-to-head comparison of print quality as well. SpencerLab analysis has confirmed that print quality of the HP DesignJet 800PS exceeds that of the Epson Stylus Pro 9000 on both glossy and coated paper. ' It goes on: 'Overall the HP DesignJet 800PS produced sharper text and line graphics, better tints and blends, and more realistic images. '

TECHNICAL DETAILS

All these printers come in two sizes, 107cm or 61cm wide.

DesignJet 500 1200 x 600 dpi resolution. Print times as short as 90 second for A1 prints. Windows drivers (including support of AutoCAD). 16Kb of RAM, expandable up to 160MB. USB1. 1 and parallel ports, and an optional network card. Optional HP-GL/2 accessory card.

DesignJet 500PS 1200 x 600 dpi resolution. Print speeds of up to 7. 9m 2/hr. Adobe PostScript 3 software RIP for Mac and Windows with job management and preview. Windows drivers (including support of AutoCAD). 16MB of RAM. USB 1. 1 and parallel ports, and an optional network card.

DesignJet 800 2400 x 1200 dpi resolution on glossy media.

Print times as short as 60 seconds for A1 prints.

Embedded HP GL/2 processor, with drivers for AutoCAD and Windows. 6GB hard disk and 96MB of RAM, expandable up to 160MB. Powerful network card: HP JetDirect 10/100Base-TX print server, as well as USB 1. 1 and parallel ports.

DesignJet 800PS 2400 x 1200 dpi resolution on glossy media.

Print speeds up to 7. 9m 2/hr. Supports queuing and nesting and processes next jobs while printing. Embedded Adobe PostScript 3 RIP, with drivers for Macs and Windows. Embedded HP GL/2 processor, with drivers for AutoCAD and Windows. 160MB of RAM and a 6GB hard disk.

Powerful network card: HP JetDirect 10/100 Base-TX print server, as well as USB 1. 1 and parallel ports.

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