New Flurry of Output Options

Typesetters and printers take PostScript to new heights

By Dan Lavin

The founders of NeXT were quite clear about the importance of output solutions. They had just watched the Apple Laserwriter help create a desktop publishing market and DTP itself save the Mac from near-oblivion. NeXT's concern showed right away: One of the company's first hirees was Bruce Blumberg, the key technical lead on the Laserwriter, and one of its first choices was in favor of using Display Postscript.

The publication process continued for some time to leave the NeXT after pre-press, however, switching over at that point to the Macintosh and its highly developed range of output devices. It was later in the game in that the NeXT could be connected directly and with such high-quality results to a variety of printers, service bureaus, imagesetters, film recorders, color printers, and other high-end output devices.

The advantages of counting on a NeXT from the beginning to the end of the publishing process are clear at this point. For starters, the NEXT can do its own postscript processing. This means there's no need for a Raster Image Processor (RIP) in the external printer, saving a user somewhere between a few thousand dollars and $30,000, depending on the device. Another competitive quality is the NeXT's uniquely high speed.

One of the only remaining obstacles is a licensing question between NeXT and Adobe Systems, which requires separate licensing agreements for output over 900 DPI. "We're working towards having low-cost marking engines with no barriers to output, but there are legal and technical issues," says Julie Acosta, NeXT publishing advocate.

At the top of the list are the two primary NeXT output devices, the NeXT Printer and the NeXT Color Printer. Both benefit from a fast connection to the NeXT and the use of the CPU as an RIP. The 400-dpi black-and-white printer, still an excellent value providing quality output for a variety of final and preliminary printing tasks, was revolutionary at the time of its release. It remains inexpensive at $1795. The new color printer, though not a high-end device, does exceptional work with presentation graphics and pre-final proofing, at the great price of $3495.

Meanwhile, virtually any PostScript printer can be connected to the NeXT. Of course you pay for the RIP and the connection is often via slow serial lines.

See NeXTWORLD Fall 1992 issue for a full report.