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dBUGing

Recently, I went to the local Macintosh Users' Group meeting here in Seattle. dBUG (for downtown Business Users' Group) as it's called, is ever so slightly different from MUGWUMP (Macintosh Users' Group for Writers and Users of Macintosh Programs, or something similar), the users' group in Ithaca. I think MUGWUMP's membership has been on the rise recently, thanks in part to the efforts of president Mark Anbinder, who you all know, and another friend, Henning Pape-Santos. Still, Mark and Henning have only managed to increase the membership list up to about 75, whereas the single dBUG meeting I went to had a poor attendance of only about 200, and the hotel hosting the event provided baked potatoes and ice cream for all present. Now that's the sort of treatment I can handle! Hewlett Packard and Iomega (makers of the Bernoulli drives) presented their latest products and gave one of each away. I don't know about you, but I would have been very happy to win a Bernoulli 90 MB removable drive or a DeskWriter C.

Unfortunately, I didn't even win the dinner for two from the hotel or one of the various t-shirts that dBUG raffled off, but I did have a chance to see the DeskWriter C, a $1095 printer which I suspect will become wildly popular. It's basically a DeskWriter, which is already wildly popular, but as the "C" in its name indicates, it can also print in color. Unlike most color printers, though, the DeskWriter C uses both black and color ink cartridges, so if you're printing straight text, just pop in a black cartridge and print away. You can't switch between cartridges in the middle of a page, which means that if you are mixing color and black text that the color black (if black can be considered a color and not the absence of color) isn't quite as dark as the black from the black cartridge. It's so easy to switch cartridges on the DeskWriter C (just like switching them on the DeskWriter), so it shouldn't be a big deal to change them. The speed of printing in color is acceptable, though not impressive, at four minutes per page. Printing in black goes at the same speed as printing on a normal DeskWriter, approximately 1 - 2 pages per minute. From the samples I saw, the color output of the DeskWriter looks attractive, although not quite as bright as the output from HP's PaintWriter (which costs less at $995 list but only does 180 dpi and requires special paper).

The DeskWriter C's print quality at 300 dpi looks great, as you would expect from a DeskWriter. Considering that the DeskWriter (which will stick around) lists for $729 and sells for about $500, I expect the DeskWriter C to sell for between $700 and $800. As far as other details go, the black cartridge is the same as the DeskWriter's and gives you 500 pages for $20, whereas the color cartridge (which you can't use in the DeskWriter, by the way) is $35 for 300 pages. Also note that the color ink is water-soluble, so don't put printouts through the washing machine. If you're currently buying a new printer and are interested in color as well as high quality text, it doesn't look like you can do any better than a DeskWriter C. HP also offers $450 upgrade that you get directly from HP, but it almost might be worth selling your DeskWriter used and buying a new DeskWriter C.

Iomega had a slightly harder time of it even though they showed a snazzy electronically-generated videotape presenting the Bernoulli 90 MB series of removable hard drives. That's because removable hard drives don't produce anything, and good ones are measured primarily by their speeds, capacities, and reliability. If you are thinking about purchasing a removable cartridge drive, though, the Bernoullis appear to be contenders. They feature decent speed with 19 millisecond access time (in theory, it's 13 milliseconds if you use Iomega's caching software), a full 90 MB of space on each disk, which are a tad pricey at $229 each and can only be bought in packs of three, and the best reliability technology, in theory.

I say "in theory" because even though I appreciate the theory behind the Bernoulli system (a floppy rises up to meet the read/write head and falls down if anything such as a piece of dust interrupts the airflow), when I asked on Usenet about experiences with the Bernoullis, people said that they were not significantly more reliable in day to day use than the cheaper SyQuests. The 90 MB Bernoullis and the 88 MB SyQuests haven't been out long enough to make a comparison, but my impression is that both work well, and now that the Bernoulli price has dropped ($800 mail order), you won't go wrong with either. Both Bernoullis and SyQuests can read the 44 MB disks of their previous versions, which is fine for already archived files, but isn't of much use if you used those existing disks as a read/write medium frequently. One final note: Iomega has a trade-up deal on any previous product of theirs or any other company's removable hard drive that allows you to send in your old drive and get a new Bernoulli 90 for $725. Certainly worth doing if you've got some of those old 10 MB Bernoulli drives around and don't know what to do with them. Just call the number below for more information through October 31st, 1991.

Hewlett Packard -- 800/752-0900
Iomega -- 800/456-5522

Information from:
HP & Iomega propaganda & reps

Related articles:
MacWEEK -- 06-Aug-91, Vol. 5, #27, pg. 5