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     By Bob and Joy Schwabach
                                                                        

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March 2000, Week 1 -- Hard Copy, Big and Fast

 

   We've become jaded about new ink jet printers. The resolution keeps getting higher, the colors brighter, and the prices lower. All in all, it's a wonderful world. We just looked at the latest wonder.

   It's Hewlett Packard's new Deskjet 1220C. It provides 2400 dpi (dots per inch) color, which is outstanding, but that's not what's so great. What's so great is that it prints any size from a 4 x 6 inch note card up to a 13 x 19 inch poster and costs less than $500. It prints 11 x 17 folio sheets. They're called folio sheets because you fold them in half and you get 8.5 x 11 inch pages, the most popular for magazines and newsletters.

 

   We've reviewed a folio printer from Canon for under $500. That one has been around for several years. It worked all right and was the best you could get for the money till now, but it was slow and the quality wasn't much by current standards. In short, it was cheap and the output looked cheap. Nobody will say that about this one.

 

   It is very seldom that I have ever said a product was stunning (maybe once every five years or so) but this one is that impressive -- stunning. We set up before we read the marketing information and I thought it was going to cost a couple of thousand dollars instead of the $500 it does. The printer looked solid as a tank and ran in nearly total silence.

 

   A nice extra feature here is that it can take any single page and enlarge it up to five times. The enlargement comes out in nine separate printed sheets which can then be pasted together.

 

   The included software lets you add nearly invisible watermarks to documents for security and do some other little tricks, like print in sepia tone for an antique photograph look. If the document is being prepared to be faxed, the printer can be selected to print in high contrast, which produces better copies from a fax or photocopy machine.

 

   All in all, a fine piece of work. You can get more info from Hewlett Packard by calling 888-999-4747; web: www.hp.com.

 

A couple of scanners

 

 

   We haven't written about scanners in a long time but we're looking at a couple of new ones from "Visioneer" -- a "pioneer." (It's not easy to get a rhyme with tech stuff.)

   Their "Strobe Pro" updates an earlier unit that came out half a dozen years ago. It's a slim sheet-fed scanner designed to fit between the keyboard and monitor on a desktop. You feed any size paper up to a full page through a slot in the front and, as the old song used to go: it goes round and round and comes out here. Resolution is 300x600 dpi (dots per inch), more than sufficient for anything but counterfeiting. List price is $200 for the Windows version, $250 for Macintosh.

 

   The "OneTouch 8600," a flatbed color scanner for $300. Flatbeds let you scan book pages. The greatest benefit from Visioneer scanners is in the buttons and the software; their software is terrific.

 One Touch Scanner

   This is a nice high-resolution (600x1200 dpi) scanner. It's called OneTouch because there's a row of buttons in front. Push the button marked "Scan" and it scans, push the one marked "Copy" and it prints a copy. Other buttons send the scanned document though e-mail, fax, etc. Phone information: 510-608-0300; web: www.visioneer.com; e-mail: info@visioneer.com.

 

Languages

 

   Go to www.transparent.com  to sign up for your "new word of the day," in English, Spanish, Portuguese, French, Italian or German. The company delivers a new word to you each day by e-mail, with voice pronunciation if you have sound on your computer. Learn a foreign language the slow way. The service is free.

 

Internuts

 

-- www.coolemail.com  After you register you can call a number and have your e-mail read to you. You can say stop at any point, or answer or send it off to someone else, either by e-mail, fax or letter. Around $20 a month.

 

-- www.asciiartgallery.com  A collection of pictures made from the ASCII (American Standard Code for Information Interchange) character set of letters, numbers and punctuation. This is the way they used to do pictures back in the old mainframe days. Amusing.

 

-- www.searchbutton.com  Adds a search feature to your web site. There may be fees for large sites.

 

-- www.mysterynet.com  Devoted to mysteries of the "whodunit" variety. Reviews and comments, plus daily online mysteries for readers to solve, and harder ones every week.

 

-- www.realage.com  Health site with tips and regimens for maintaining your youth.

 

-- www.supportgate.com  Meeting place for tech support people.

  

Games people play

   "The Wheel of Time," for Win 95/98, from Legend Entertainment. The game follows the story line of the popular sword and sorcery novels by Robert Jordan. You must maintain your fortress while seeking to overthrow the evil forces that beset you from all sides, etc. Web: www.legendent.com.

Final Fantasy VIII

   "Final Fantasy VIII," for Win 95/98, from Square Electronic Arts. This series is so popular it's an industry: the Sony PlayStation version has already sold six million copies. As you might guess from that, it's very good. Web: www.squaresoft.com.

NOTE: Readers can search more than three years of columns at the "On Computers" web site: www.oncomp.com. You can e-mail Bob Schwabach at bobschwab@oncomp.com  or bobschwab@aol.com.