A slew of new workgroup laser printers will shine at Comdex/Fall '97 this week as the market for network devices heats up.
"This is going to be a big show for laser printers," said Steve Koenig, an analyst with ARS Inc. of Irving, Texas. "The market for networked printers is really picking up right now. It's becoming almost as price-competitive as the consumer inkjet market."
Koenig said that within a year prices of network-ready devices have fallen dramatically. Last year $1,200 would buy a 12-page-per-minute printer; today the same money will cover the cost of a 20-ppm device, he said.
Color lasers in particular are set to take off. "Companies are getting networked, and they want alternatives to giving employees personal color inkjets," Koenig said.
According to sources, at least two companies are poised to launch their first products into the color laser fray at Comdex: Brother International Corp. of Somerset, N.J., and Mita Copystar America Inc. of Fairfield, N.J., will both preview new color network-ready lasers at the show, sources said. Brother and Mita declined to comment.
On the monochrome front, both Lexmark International Inc. and Kyocera Electronics Inc. will show new devices.
Lexmark last week started shipping four new additions to its Optra S series of 1,200-dpi monochrome laser printers.
Filling out the line are the $999 Optra S 1620 and the $1,899 Optra S 2420, which print at speeds of 16 and 24 ppm, respectively, and networked versions of each: the $1,299 Optra S 1620N and the $2,249 Optra S 2420N.
Earlier this year Lexmark introduced the $1,125 Optra S 1250, the Optra S 1650 (now $1,129 following a $175 price drop last week) and the $2,250 Optra S 2450, which print at 12, 16 and 24 ppm, respectively (see 05.19.97, Page 25).
Like their siblings, the four new printers are based on 1,200-dpi Lexmark engines. The 16-ppm models feature a 33-MHz RISC processor and 4 Mbytes of RAM, expandable to 68 Mbytes.
The 24-ppm models have 66-MHz processors. The base version includes 8 Mbytes of RAM, while the network version have 12 Mbytes. Both are expandable to 132 Mbytes.
The new printers feature emulations for PostScript Level 2 and Hewlett-Packard Co.'s PCL 6 printer languages.
While the two base models feature Centronics-style parallel and serial interfaces, the two network models also include 10/100Base TX Ethernet connectors.
At the lower end, Kyocera Electronics will announce a new 6-ppm monochrome device with a cost per page of 1.7 cents.
Aimed at individuals and small workgroups, the $545 FS-600 will output at resolutions up to 2,400 by 600 dpi, thanks to the company's KIR2 (Kyocera Image Refinement) software.
Kyocera will offer PostScript emulation as an option, in addition to optional serial and network interfaces. Pricing has not yet been announced.
The FS-600 will feature a 50-MHz PowerPC processor and 2 Mbytes of RAM, expandable to 34 Mbytes. The FS-600 ships standard with a 150-sheet input tray. Kyocera will offer an additional 250-sheet universal cassette; pricing was not available.
Perhaps most significantly, the laser printer market leader, Hewlett-Packard Co., will be showing its new LaserJet 4000 series, announced last week (see 11.10.97, Page 12).
Lexmark International Inc. of Lexington, Ky., can be reached at (606) 232-2000 or (800) 891-0331; fax-back (606) 232-2380; http://www.lexmark.com.
Kyocera Electronics Inc. of Somerset, N.J., can be reached at (908) 560-3400 or (800) 232-6797; fax (908) 560-8380; http://www.kyocera.com.