Broad Is Beautiful: HP's Wide-Format Ink Jet

SAN FRANCISCO (03/06/2000) - In this era of economic expansion, even printers are getting wider. Now Hewlett-Packard Co.'s $499 DeskJet 1220C lets you print on pages up to 13 by 19 inches--for a price.

Like other wide-format printers, the 1220C operates almost silently, can be externally networked (for an additional $170), runs on USB, and accepts a broad range of paper sizes--from postcards to posters. It measures about 2 feet wide, 15 inches deep, and less than a foot high; and its paper tray extends straight out the front (instead of rising up from the back of the unit) to save headroom.

But the 1220C offers many extras, starting with its snazzy gray-and-charcoal case. Its driver provides advanced on-screen Controls in a simple format that echoes the company's home-oriented DeskJet 900 series. Most important, the HP Produces high-quality output on plain paper, with sharper edges on text and richer colors on graphics than many other ink jets manage.

The 1220C's biggest drawback: It can be slow, especially on graphics. In my informal tests, a full-page color image took twice as long (2 minutes) and a glossy photo nearly three times as long (almost 14 minutes) to print than did similar pages on other wide-format units. (A page of text took the standard 30 seconds.) Even so, this printer is fast enough for most uses; and for many people, the luscious photo quality will be worth the wait.

The 1220C has strong competition in Epson's $449 Stylus Color 1160 (see March New Products, For a lower price and quicker print speeds, go with the Epson. But for style, more features, and the option of printing on cheaper paper, spend an extra $50 on the HP.

--Karen Silver


HP DeskJet 1220C

Pro: Good output quality on plain paper, snazzy design, strong software features.

Con: Expensive; can be slow.

Value: For those who want style and like to print on plain paper, the HP may be worth its high price.

Street price: $499



Product info no. 688.

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