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Hardware: Printing
Unknown (Imported From Infoseek)
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Chris Bourne


A PRINTER is a major expense for most computer users but a number of low cost printers are becoming available. The Fastext 80 by Smith Corona is classed as a budget, Centronics, printer but it has most of the features you are likely to need. RS232 is an optional extra.

As well as normal-sized text you can print in Condensed, elite or enlarged type - all with true descenders, change the international character set, underline characters and change the line spacing and form length. An automatic line feed can be set using the single DIP switch on the back of the printer and in graphics mode you can print up to 576 dots.

The standard printer can accept paper up to 10in. wide and a tractor feed can be added for fan-fold paper. The friction feed works tolerably well but snags, occasionally. At normal print size it prints at a fast 80 cps.

With all that it should be a reasonable buy but there are problems. The first are the instructions. The initial setting up is well documented but the list of control codes is poorly laid out and is a mine-field for newcomers. Although the codes are Epson compatible the common DCA is replaced by ESC W, ESC J executes at n/72 rather than n/216 and ESC C only operates on the number of lines.

The front panel has only an on-line button, line feeds and form feeds have to be sent by software or by using the manual knob. There is an LED to show if you are on-line but there is 'no end of paper' warning.

All the above could be forgiven if the printer were competitively priced, but at £224.25, plus £17.25 for a tractor feed and £8.20 for extra ribbons, it is not. For the same price you can get an Epson RX80 which has a proven track record and cheaper ribbons.

Not Rated