Friday, February 29, 2008

Kodak unveils a new desktop scanner

This time, Kodak is releasing the ScanMate i1120, a multipurpose desktop scanner with strong document-scanning features. It has a list price of $495 and scans at 20ppm in both color and black-and-white.

The i1120 allows you to send a scanned file directly to email or to file. Kodak boasts of its easy-to-program and preconfigure scanning destinations with a one-touch interface Kodak calls “smart touch”. For example, you can program one key for sending expense reports as searchable grayscale PDF files to a specific server folder, or send a shipping order as a multipage color TIFF as an email attachment to the shipping department or to a client.

The ScanMate i1120 also has solid scan features, including blank page removal, image rotation, and dual stream scanning (for example, making a color TIFF for an email and a monochrome PDF for filing).

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

The longest document ever scanned!

That’s a feat that scanner maker Böwe Bell & Howell is planning to undertake, one for the Guinness Book of Records. BBH, we are informed, will attempt to scan a document half a mile long using the Truper 3600 document scanner. The document will be the equivalent of around 2,800 letter-size sheets laid end-to-end.

It’s a fun stunt to publicize the existence of a “long document mode” on the BBH scanner. The feat will be performed at a healthcare IT industry convention. That’s the proper place, as long scans are usually from instrument readouts from devices like EKGs (though it must be said that half a mile is one hell of a stress test).

Oh well, it beats the usual flogging of speeds, feeds, and megahertz. Apparently, the Guinness people will be there to make sure no cheating is involved.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Canon releases high-speed color scanner

Canon announced the release of its imageFORMULA DR-X10C Color Production Scanner. This high-end machine scans at a speed up to 128 pages per minute or (in duplex) 256 images per minute. It has a duty cycle of 60,000 pages.

This new machine builds in many of the hardware and software enhancements already developed for Canon scanners. These include such features as staple detection, page size detection, auto color detection, retry feeding, and strong ultrasonic double-feed detection. A new feature prevents dust from reducing the sharpness of the scans. It can scan documents up to 22" x 34" in size.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Canon releases new color copier

Canon has just released a new color copier-multifunctional aimed at small-to-midsize workgroups. The Color imageRUNNER C2550 prints and copies in color at 23ppm and in black-and-white at 25 ppm.

The controller hosts an impressive 1.5GB of RAM and 80GB hard disk drive. The basic machine supports Canon’s UFR II host-based printing, but can be upgraded to PostScript and/or PCL. A multiposition internal finisher is available as well as a two-tray job separator. A 50-sheet two-sided document feeder (DADF) is also an option.

The list price for this compact new model is $8,000.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Cutting back on printing

A recent InformationWeek article (“Biltmore Hotels Save Paper, Printing Costs Through Digitized Docs,” 2/12/08) reports on the attempt of the CIO of a hotel chain to cut back on steadily rising print costs. As the article points out “it's difficult to reduce paper and ink consumption when the effort flies in the face of people's office habits.”

The Biltmore chain has over 500 employees in its Florida headquarters. It had 41 printers and the number has been growing. So he:
▪ Reduced the printers to 9, while adding a few more copier-multifunctionals.
▪ Actively pushed two-sided printing and copying.
▪ Showed employees how to work with digital documents (PDFs) instead of printing everything out.
▪ Set up copiers so users had to swipe ID cards to use them and starting billing print costs back to departments.
▪ Limited use of color to certain employees with real need to use color.

The result is that the CIO “has cut what used to be a $3,400 budget for paper and ink cartridges by 75%.” He has also focused on getting departments to be far more digital in the way they handle documents. The HR department, for example, has now placed all records online, for example, and gotten rid of all of its filing cabinets.

None of this is any surprise, but it is a good indication that a strong push can transform old habits and save money and that such an effort can pay off.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Samsung releases new color printer

Samsung, which has released a slew of new products over the past few months, has come out with yet another printer. The CLP-660ND is aimed at small-to-medium-workgroups prints in color and black-and-white at 25ppm. As its name implies, automatic duplexing and Ethernet connectivity are standard. Memory can be expanded to 260MB.

The cost is a moderate $700 and Samsung claims (though we can’t yet confirm) a low cost per page in its category.

Samsung has been active at getting new products on the market and seems to be gaining growing market share, as it extends its product line from desktop machines to more powerful machines.

Monday, February 11, 2008

OKI updates ledger-size color printer line

OKI Printing Solutions just released the OKI Printing Solutions C9650 color LED printer family. These ledger-size printers, which print at 36ppm in color and 45ppm in black-and-white, replace the C9600 family, adding more power, more memory, and more finishing options. Street prices are in the $3,400–$4,100 range.

The OKI printers handle heavy stock, support the printing of banner pages, and offer booklet making. Costs per page are moderate, both in black and color. The speed is outstanding.

OKI has produced a solid stream of color printers, especially for large-workgroup and departmental use. These models look like another strong addition to the lineup.

Friday, February 8, 2008

HP makes (somewhat) greener ink jet cartridges

HP announced that it would use recycled plastics to make its ink jet cartridges. Using a new technology called “closed loop plastic recycling,” the company will use plastics from sources of PET (polyethylene terephthalate) plastics, such as old ink cartridges and water bottles. The process, which involves shredding, is reported to use over 70% recycled materials in making the new cartridges.

HP already has a worldwide effort to take back used ink cartridges for its customers. The new process closes the circle, according to HP sources. It also says that over 200 million cartridges have been manufactured already using this process. The company is working on doing the same thing with laser cartridges.

This is a welcome step, a chance to reduce toxic industrial waste sent to landfills by a little. But HP could do even better: they could come up with an authorized way of refilling cartridges so they don’t have to be constantly remanufactured. They could also supply much larger ink reservoirs so that the cartridges don’t need to be constantly replaced.

These steps are unlikely; HP and other ink jet manufacturers have no desire to kill the cash cow that allows companies to charge $6,000 a gallon or more for ink, doled out a thimbleful at a time. The recycling is a laudable baby step in terms of green technology, but HP could do more.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Ricoh extends black-and-white copier line

Ricoh this week introduced two new copier and copier/multifunctional families, the Aficio MP 4000 and MP 5000. These new models replace the year-old MP 3500 and MP 4500. In addition to boosting the speed by 5ppm, the new models families add a number of new or enhanced features.

Among those upgrades are more paper capacity, support for heavier weight paper, a big color touchscreen control panel, a larger document feeder, more memory, and improved first-page out time. The new models also include more advanced security features. List prices match those of the earlier models.

Ricoh is consciously upgrading its product line and adding new features. The issue is that their copiers and copier/multifunctionals are already good enough for most users. But the need to refresh its lineup and keep in step with key competitors means making what is already very good even a little bit better.

Monday, February 4, 2008

Vista: Gradually gaining traction

Microsoft’s Window Vista application and its 2007 Office Productivity suite are slowly migrating into the office, according to a survey by CDW. Last February, only 12% of companies had plans in place to switch over to the new version of Windows, as users opted instead for the older, but faster and more reliable XP version. This February, according to the survey, around 35% of the companies surveyed had Vista migration efforts ongoing. Out of that 35% segment, only 13% had completed the move.

Similar numbers were making the move to the application software in Windows Productivity Suite 2007. Last February, only 7% of offices had upgraded. The survey indicates that 24% have now upgraded.

While there is still lots of controversy on the Internet and questions about Vista speed, feature bloat, and the change in user interface, many IT decision makers are starting to feel that the Microsoft products are stable enough and usable enough to give them the green light. Microsoft is, according to rumors, also working on a streamlined “Windows 7” version that will fix some of the objections to Vista – Microsoft is keeping mum, however.

Friday, February 1, 2008

Embedded Equitrac

It’s no longer just the copier companies that are embedding 3rd party software solutions on their control panels. Hewlett-Packard and Equitrac announced that Equitrac’s job tracking and cost management software has now been embedded on a wide variety of HP’s high-en multifunctionals, from the 24ppm Color LaserJet 9500mfp to the 50ppm LaserJet 9050mfp.

The Equitrac software is integrated into the HP control panel, so that users can, for example, enter in a security code before sending or retrieving a job. It comes in two forms, an Express version and a high-end Office version (aimed at larger businesses). The software allows for user authentication and access control, job tracking, cost assignment, reporting, and enforcement of corporate print policies.

Of course, there are Equitrac versions integrated into most of the major copier lines now. What is interesting is how HP’s top MFPs are offering the same kind of enterprise solutions that were once a major differentiator between the copier-based multifunctionals and the printer-based ones. The line between copiers and printers gets narrower all the time.