Compaq's network printer is worthy rival to H-P



$5,495. From Hewlett-Packard Co., 11311 Chinden Blvd., Boise, Idaho 83714. Call (800) LASERJET.


$5,499 (Pagemarq 20), $3,999 (Pagemarq 15). From Compaq Computer Corp., Printer Division, P.O. Box 692000, Houston, Texas 77269. Call (800) 345-1518.

Summary: Compaq's new Pagemarq laser printers are for networks. One is faster and holds more blank paper than, and the other is less expensive than, the reigning H-P IIISi. Both Pagemarqs print at higher resolution than the H-P and offer ~~TC unique built-in fax modem for sending or receiving and printing faxes.

But Compaq is new to printers, so although its printers support H-P's PCL 5 printer language (just as the IIISi does) and PostScript, you won't find as many programs supporting their advanced features. The new design means you can't be as sure of bug-free operation.

Still, a first look says that Compaq wins the competition. The IIISi is easy to use and known for reliability, but H-P needs to cut its cost and introduce a new generation with higher resolution and speed. Special applause to Compaq for its printer cartridge recycling program.

On a scale of one to four, with one indicating poor and four indicating excellent, here's how the products rate:


Performance 3

Ease of use 4

Value 3



Performance 4

Ease of use 3

Value 4

SHAREWARE (These are reviews of shareware programs for IBM and compatible computers. The programs are available from bulletin boards and computer clubs. Users try them, then pay a fee to register if they decide to use them regularly.)


"You are able to communicate your ideas clearly. Other people will tend to appreciate and understand your ideas," begins an astrological analysis of yours truly, who gets blank stares when he tries to order a large pizza, half with mushrooms, double-sliced, and gets a plate of cold cheese nachos a few hours later. But it's flattering to think that this astrology program thinks so highly of me.

After entering some pertinent information about where and when I was born, and information about latitude and longitude of my birthplace in the Upper Midwest, I was able to view on the screen or make printouts of information on how my rising sun affects my house and where I stand in relation to the planets. Though some of the conclusions were worrisome, none pointed to my penchant for the participle dangling, for which I'm grateful.

After learning everything about my sun, moon and planets, I was able to do the same for partners in marriage and business. One of my associates, for example, showed conflicts between my Uranus and his Pluto, which explains why when he begins whistling Tommy Dorsey tunes, I have thoughts of flight -- his.

You're never far away from help in this menu-driven astrology program. Even though I'm not a big astrology buff, I can certainly see why Astro would appeal to anyone who follows the horoscope column in the newspaper and wants even more information. Aside from some pretty obnoxious reminders to register the program, Astro is polished and well worth looking at. There are several versions of the program for folks who do the right thing and register, including a professional one. Look for version 2.71 or higher on bulletin boards.



These two disks, plus a disk containing a directory of computer clubs around the country, constitute a useful set for people either just getting into computing, or for folks who need reference material right on their hard disk. Professor P.C. Laptop gives information on choosing a laptop or notebook computer (Check out the keyboard first! is the best advice), how to travel with one and how to make use of your modem. Look for version 5.7 or higher on bulletin boards.

PC-Learn contains a complete history of the PC back to CP/M days. Through its easy-to-use menu it offers tutorials for beginning DOS and advanced DOS, right up to DOS 5.0. You'll learn about batch files, viruses and modem communication, among other subjects, and you'll have a well-written glossary of computer terms. Hardware and software tips round out the menus. A third disk contains more than 1,000 addresses of computer clubs in dBase III and ASCII formats. Author Jim Hood, a commercial photographer and computer buff, has done a wonderful job explaining such terms as ASCII in language novices can understand. He also produces shareware marketing newsletters on a disk.

(For copies of Astro, send $7, plus tax for Californians; for PC-Learn, Professor P.C. Laptop and the computer club disk, send $4 each, or $10 for all three, plus tax, to Shareware, P.O. Box 7037, Long Beach, Calif. 90807. Phone (310) 595-6870. Fax (310) 426-0110. A catalog on a disk costs $2. Please specify 5.25- or 3.5-inch disks.)

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