Computers: Feedback: Apple Printer has PC problem

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The Independent Online
THE APPLE Laser Writer NT being sold by Morgan is a very nice printer indeed. It is reasonably fast, silent and small and uses the Postscript print description language, which is almost essential for serious desktop publishing work, writes Andrew Brown.

It is a stunning bargain if you want to connect it to a Mac. But it has one huge drawback typical of Morgan's stock: if you want to use it with a PC-compatible system; you will have to do a fair bit of work yourself. The trouble is that the printer is designed for Macs, which connect to laser printers using a system of plugs and connectors called Appletalk, which is not found on normal PCs.

If you have a Windows PC, the printer connects to it through the 'serial port', a socket on the back of the computer, which is almost always used for modems or mice. Almost every other printer you can buy plugs into a different socket on a PC, the 'parallel port'.

So to connect the Laser Writer, you will need a new serial cable and a widget known as a 'null modem connector', which sits between the cable and the printer. You will also need to have a spare serial port. Most computers are sold with two such sockets, known as 'Com 1' and 'Com 2' nowadays, but many mice plug into serial ports. So if you have a mouse and an external modem, you may find it impossible to connect the printer without buying an extra serial port, which come on expansion cards and cost from pounds 30 upwards.

Once the printer is physically connected, a thumbwheel at the back has to be clicked around to a particular position, depending on the speed and configuration of the serial port. Then the new printer port must be added through the Windows Control Panel and the printer driver that comes on disks with the laser writer installed.

All this is clearly explained in an appendix to the manual; at least I thought it was clearly explained, but I had some idea of what the manual was talking about in the first place. It might be difficult, and would certainly be daunting, for a novice.

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