that the Indian printer market has matured and Multi-Function
Devices (MFDs) are more affordable, users have a wide
choice of features and prices. by Soutiman Das Gupta
are not the dumb and noisy devices that sit at the network's
end anymore. Enterprise users increasingly view the
role of the printer in the organization as a contribution
to office productivity. The new features seeping into
today's printers make them more versatile and these
printers offer more value for money. Let's take a quick
look at some of these features.
What do you do when you have to take a printout of a
classified document from the network printer? You'll
probably enter the print command and make a beeline
for the network printer at the corner of the building.
After all you wouldn't want your sensitive documents
like sales figures, recruitment letters, management
committee meeting minutes, and other 'for your eyes
only' documents to be peeked at by others. K. Lakshmi
Narayan Rao, Marketing Manager, Value Products, Canon
India Private Limited, calls this phenomenon the 'Print
Printers can now enable a personal mailbox for each
user. When a user triggers a print-job, it goes into
the user's mailbox. The user can walk up to the printer
at his/her convenience, key in a security password,
and collect the printout. And while the document is
in the mailbox it doesn't show up in a print spool queue,
to ensure another level of privacy.
every vendor offers products that promise to interoperate,
an important accessory, the print cartridge, usually
doesn't interoperate. "It's a hassle to order
separate cartridges for different printers in our
network. Unfortunately there hasn't been any move
to standardize this particular aspect in the industry,"
says M.D. Agrawal, Chief Manager-IS, Refinery, BPCL.
With so many daily responsibilities already on your
hands, the added burden of checking toner cartridge
levels is something you don't need. Wouldn't it be great
if your printer took care of this responsibility by
"Now, printers not only display 'toner low' messages
but can also send e-mail and pager messages to you well
in advance, so that you can keep fresh toner cartridges
ready," says Nitin Hiranandani, Country Commercial
Category Manager, Imaging & Printing Group, HP India.
"What's more it can even send e-mail, pager, and
SMS messages to your suppliers so that a service personnel
is at your door with the necessary refills in half an
hour," he adds.
Printers can now let you scan a document in a bitmap
or PDF format. You can send your document directly to
a desired e-mail address or fax by using a virtual keyboard
on the printer.
If your project has geographically separate teams working
at the same time, your printer can offer a virtual common
docking place where you can post the project status
Printers have a software utility that can merge documents
from different applications like Word, Powerpoint, and
Excel into a common file.
Better resource utilization can be promoted by dynamically
distributing bulk printing jobs over multiple printers
on the network. A remote delivery utility provides instant
delivery of a scanned document from a remote location.
So now, if a document needs to be delivered from the
fifth floor to the ground floor, it can just be scanned
on the fifth floor and the print can be collected from
a printer on the ground floor.
IN THE MARKET
"The Indian printer market scenario is quite positive.
Due to a strong recovery of software businesses and
increased awareness of printing costs, many organizations
are investing in network printers to enhance cost efficiencies.
This is an encouraging trend and will have implications
on all printing companies," says Anish Srikrishna,
Country Product Manager- Office Automation, Samsung
Electronics India Information and Telecommunication
P.G. Kamath, General Manager, Lexmark International
(India) Private Limited, says, "Enterprises should
not look at the cost of purchase of printers but at
the TCO. The various efficiencies that are introduced
due to the use of the printer are also important."
However a couple of years ago aspects like speed, functionality,
and printer driver were the basis of choosing the product
for the company. The features that most enterprises
consider are workflow enhancement, degree of administration
from the desktop, and multiple features.
Correct interface - With bit-mapped graphic images,
including text output from many word processing
configurations, printer speed may be limited solely
by how fast the data can pass through the workstation's
print port to the printer. Choose an interface
that is fast enough to keep up with the bulk of
the print jobs to be run on a particular printer.
To do this, you will need to estimate the data
transmission rate for that printer.
Driver versions - The factor having the next greatest
impact on printing performance after port type
is the application and print driver version. To
avoid difficulties with either, you should maintain
a record of all versions, configurations, and
type of applications for each of your installations.
Many printing problems can be resolved by updating
to the latest print services files.
Type of document - The next most important factor
affecting printing performance is the type of
documents you are printing. Files containing graphics
require considerably more time to print than files
consisting of plain text.
Buffer settings - With no load on the network,
maximum data rate can be achieved with any buffer
size larger than 5 KB. As network traffic increases,
packet delays decrease throughput for any buffer
size. For very busy networks, a buffer size of
20 KB may be desirable to ensure having enough
data stored to carry over long packet delays.
The buffer size needed for maximum data throughput
will range from 6 KB to 20 KB depending on the
traffic load on any particular network.
On non-dedicated workstations, you should normally
use the default buffer size of 3 KB. A high buffer
size may slow down your workstation because it
requires more memory, even though printing speed
Try different settings to get best performance
from your own setup. For example, if the printer
is printing a lot of graphics data, you may want
to increase the buffer size.
Slow workstations - Performance may be limited
by slower computers. Use faster Pentium and RISC-based
CPUs whenever possible on your system, especially
for servers that will be handling the most traffic
and workstations tied to fast printers.
Server load and network traffic - Performance
may be limited by too few servers or an excessive
amount of traffic on the network. Additional servers
may reduce the load on an overburdened server.
As network use increases, delays in delivery of
data packets may increase. Increased Ethernet
traffic increases packet-start delays and the
possibility of packet collisions.
Packet collisions require data to be retransmitted,
possibly slowing delivery of print job data to
the printer. On a token-ring network, traffic
directly increases the delay in receiving tokens
and the start of data transmission.
Proper planning of the total network using individual
segments separated by routers and bridges can
keep localized network traffic at reasonable levels.
Effective network administration, including the
careful division of print resources among file
servers and workstations to reduce multi-hop links
on common paths, also can help reduce print job
Printer bottleneck - Another important printing
bottleneck is in the printer itself and the type
of data being sent to the printer. For most jobs
on non-laser printers and for printing plain text
jobs on laser printers, the physical printer engine
is usually the limiting factor. When a Page Description
Language (PDL) like PostScript is used, the formatter
in the printer may be the limiting factor.
The speed of PDL formatting varies greatly between
printers. Unfortunately, the technical specifications
for most printers seldom address this parameter.
Non-PDL print jobs that include a lot of graphics
or formatting may send so many bytes per page
that the interface may become the limiting factor.
Das Gupta can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org