May (05-02) - Compaq:RIP

May 7, 2002 Editorial

Now that the legal wrangling regarding the Compaq/HP merger has finished, we can begin to consider the future of our industry. I think the new, larger, company will collapse. You heard it here.

IBM's move away from Xerox as an OEM back to Lexmark seems to be complete. The last of the inventory of Xerox-based features and upgrades have hit the used market and are being whittled down. Ethernet cards are still nearly impossible to find, so users have begun to consider external print servers from Lexmark and Troy as alternatives to overpriced HP. IBM's introduction of Multifunction (MFP= print, copy, scan, fax, etc.) accessories for the 1100 series of laser printers marks the acceptance of these devices as high-margin, if specialized, value-added products. As gear has become available to the third party, the printer is the only device which is sellable. The scanner, fax functions are usually removed in order to liquidate the printer.

IBM announced its newest impact printer based on the Printronix 2000LPM screamer = 6400-020 (!!). With an actual throughput quite lower than 2000LPM, the moniker is misleading. Users still have no good alternative to replace their aging channel-attached impact printers: 6262-014 and 6262-022 still prevail. The only other options require a PC-based application from either BARR or Solimar. Not only are they expensive systems, but they introduce a PC into an environment which may actually deteriorate dependability.

At the high end, IBM continues to extend its cut sheet production printers with the introduction of the 2085 and 2105. With speeds of 85ppm and 105ppm (respectively) they are sure to be popular in this growing segment.

Remember the phrase 'Give 'em the razor, sell them the blades'? A direct quote from Lexmark's quarterly financial results: Laser and inkjet supplies account for 52 percent of revenue. My Opinion? Buy the older laser printers and buy cheaper toner from the third party. The newer printers REQUIRE new toner you can't refill them. There is a lawsuit regarding this issue wending its way through the court system regarding Lexmark's (successful) attempts to monopolize the consumables for their products. Lexmark makes printers for everyone ( Unisys, IBM, Decision Data, etc. ) and all of the toners are proprietary.

Genicom seems to have stabilized. They have done an admirable job in consolidating their product lines and have solid technology at aggressive prices. The Genicom 3470 uses the same engine as IBM's 4247 for a third of the price.

A popular mainframe based print application called VPS cannot handle IPDS over IP - A big problem for many users trying to move toward TCP/IP. Rumor has it that they are beginning to acknowledge the weakness. No news on availability on a fix. IBM's PSF is the product of choice. Many users are familiar with IPDS for its graphics/barcode functions, but IPDS has become a de facto requirement for any mainframe printing over IP. Converting to TCP/IP from SNA? Check out this overview for printers:

Tough to find:
4322 InfoPrint 21 they weren't in the market long and now they are like hen's teeth.
Internal Ethernet for the whole 43xx family lasers don't hold your breath.
Lexmark Optra T610, T614, T616. Their newer line T520, 522, T620, T622 are the models du jour.
IBM twinax impact printers in the 4230 family especially IPDS versions.

Good supply
IBM 3112 or 3912 inexpensive workhorse with IPDS support
IBM 4317-001 still whittling down the huge supply features are the only real problem.
IBM 4312-001 some more new machines just hit.
IBM 6262, most models
IBM 6252 these are really nice high-speed impact printers. Cheap alternative for durable iron.
IBM 3900, 4000's
Genicom 3470 New in box = less than the IBM gets for theirs.
Lexmark Optra 1855's a large package from Federal Government (?)
Lexmark Optra E 6ppm desktop lasers are a steal at @ with supplies
Lexmark Optra SC1275 Color laser = (!?) supplies extra.
Lexmark 10BaseT external print servers = @
DataSouth XL family impact printers a large end user rollout.