REVIEWS

In-house Typesetter

Can high-resolution image-setting be as easy as printing to a NeXT Laser Printer? Very nearly so, as demonstrated by the Goldleaf Imagesetters and eXTRA-SET software from GS Corporation (formerly Goldleaf Systems).

This combination of the Gold-leaf Imagesetters (based on Linotype-Hell's family of low-end Ultre imagesetters) with Goldleaf's driver software is ideal for NEXTSTEP technical-publishing users who have limited color requirements. It is designed to simplify imagesetting, bring it comfortably to your desk in a standard office, and work seamlessly in the NEXTSTEP environment.

It is virtually plug-and-play. Load the eXTRASET software, hook up the compact unit (1 foot long by 2 feet wide by 2.5 feet tall at 140 pounds) to your workstation as a SCSI device, and you're in bus-iness capable of running out film or paper, capable of even burning paper plates at resolutions of up to 3000 dpi.

You print to it as you would to a NeXT Laser Printer, specifying a few extra parameters: composite versus separated colors, resolution from 600 dpi to 3000 dpi, line-screen resolution from 60 lpi to 225 lpi, laser intensity, normal versus inverted image, mirrored versus normal image, and so on. Your workstation acts as a high-speed RIP, preparing all the calculations normally handled by any other imagesetter's expensive RIP, and directing the imagesetter's laser to record your image to its storage media. You will still need to have access to a film-developing unit to process the exposed media.

Any sort of imagesetter will require the support of a developing unit, and those can require messy chemicals and special plumbing. The Goldleaf Imagesetter system will work well in a situation in which you record your files to film and then send your exposed film out for developing. In general, the rastering process is the performance bottleneck at your local service bureau, while the developing units are often free and available.

eXTRASET requires 32-MB of memory (64MB recommended) and 200MB of free hard disk space (1GB recommended). Since the rastering process is processor-intensive, you should not expect to do anything else with your machine while it is rastering.

Goldleaf offers imagesetter models for both monochromatic or color work. For now, the color option is suitable for spot color only, not for continuous-tone separations. This is consistent with the re-quirements of most NEXT-STEP publishing users to- day. GS Corporation says that a future upgrade will include new screening algorithms that will make color-capable imagesetters in- stantly ready for continuous-tone work.

My biggest complaint with the product is a hidden system-administration headache.

Upon setup, you are required to run a special installation program in superuser mode; it reads the imagesetter's ID number (and the host ID if the host is a NeXT computer), and you must fax these to GS to receive a license code that enables the machine. I find that scheme to be unnecessary, considering the imagesetter itself is a 140-pound dongle.

I have saved the best news for last. In a day when imagesetters typically run in the $50,000 to $80,000 range, the Goldleaf Imagesetters cost from only $19,000 to $37,000; eXTRASET is included. (If you already have an Ultre-based imagesetter, you can buy the eX- TRASET software with a special SCSI expansion card for the imagesetter for $10,000.)

Of course, the eXTRASET/ Goldleaf Imagesetter combination is not suited for the highest-quality requirements. For high-gloss, high-color publications, you would want to consider a NEXTSTEP solution using high-end imagesetters (such as the Agfa SelectSet 7000 or Lino-tronic L630 products). For most NEXTSTEP publishing tasks, however, this product provides high-resolution output with amazing simplicity at a surprisingly low cost.

by Rick Reynolds


eXTRASET 1.1 with Goldleaf Imagesetters
4 Cubes

High-resolution imagesetting made nearly as easy as printing to a laser printer. eXTRASET is a host-based RIP and an interface to the Goldleaf Imagesetters and other RIPs based on Linotype-Hell's Ultre imagesetters.

$10,000 eXTRASET with hardware upgrade kit;

$19,000 and up, Goldleaf Imagesetter and eXTRASET

GS Corporation, 929 Sir Francis Drake Blvd., Ste. C342, Kentfield, CA 94904.

415/257-4700; info@goldleaf.com.