New Panasonic printers offer speed, quality


BOSTON -- Most of the excitement in the printer industry these days is found in the non-impact or page printer category, which includes laser and ink-jet printers.

Hewlett-Packard Co. introduced a high-speed laser printer at the Seybold electronic publishing conference that began in Boston on Monday, and Apple Computer Inc. was said to be privately showing new printer technologies that will be introduced later this month for the Macintosh family.

"But not everyone needs the high print quality of the page printers, and not everyone can afford" to spend $750 to $6,000 for a laser, said Larry Jamieson, an analyst for BIS Strategic Decisions Inc.

There are plenty of people who are willing to give up a little print quality -- but not too much -- for speed and savings.

People who need a printer for a home computer, or for a small business run from the home, often go shopping for dot-matrix printers because they cost relatively little.

Panasonic Communications & Systems Co. of Secaucus, N.J., has just made them cost even less, introducing two new 24-pin dot-matrix models that work with IBM PC and compatible computers.

The two models replace Panasonic's popular KX-P1124, which at $500 had been the industry's best-selling 24-pin dot-matrix printer.

The new Panasonic KX-P1123, which has a list price of $400, essentially matches the features of its predecessor for $100 less.

It is the fastest 24-pin printer at its price, producing 63 characters a second in its letter-quality (LQ) setting and 240 characters a second for rough drafts where speed is more important than print quality.

Documents printed in draft quality are readable, but they are not suitable for business correspondence or other important printing needs because the characters, made up of patterns of dots, are sometimes hard to read.

So-called letter-quality printing comes closer to the sharpness of a typewriter or laser printer because the dots are closer together, but one can still tell the difference without trouble.

Panasonic has addressed print quality as well as price with the introduction of the KX-P1124i, which adds several nice new features but which keeps the KX-P1124's old list price of $500.

It will be available in April.

In addition to the seven type fonts standard on both new printers, the KX-P1124i includes what Panasonic calls a "super letter quality" or SLQ type that makes two passes over each line for added sharpness.

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