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Mon 17 Mar 2003
At the IT 2003 Show
Category : Commentary/IT2003.txt
In theory, one ought to be able to spend a productive time at an IT Show doing a whole lot of comparison testing. All the vendors are there with their latest products. All you need is to bring your own PowerBook. (I wanted to check out two colour laser printers at the S$2500 range - an HP 2500 and an Epson 1900. These are significant new products. They make high quality colour printing truly affordable for the first time.)
But, in reality, you get a surprising number of obstacles. At HP they hadn't made provisions for people who might want to test-print using samples they've prepared using their own computers. I've prepared InDesign, Acrobat and FreeHand files that I can use to check if the printer will do the job for me. And I tried to go before the crowds descend on the weekend.
At Epson, they and their partner JK Technology do get it. I was quite welcome to plug in my iBook and print away. But I couldn't install their drivers because they only had an OS 9 installer and OS 9 is long gone from my machine. So they got someone to get the OS X installer from their office the snail-mail way.
There were a lot of wireless networks running at the show but they were almost all closed networks (Apple even hid theirs). I almost reached the Epson OS X driver at their Aussie site using one of the few freely available networks but was cut off when I started the download. So I had to wait a couple of hours ruminating if everybody couldn't sell more stuff just by being a bit more generous.
For example, Apple could actually Think Smarter. If they offered free wireless access (one where you needn't have to go and ask someone in the know for the password), they will quickly see a Mac community sprouting around their booth. You won't get better advertisment than lots of people using your products and passionate about it. Mac users are funny; they do a better job conveying the usefulness of the Mac than the people Apple often hire. (Sometimes I feel that if the latter breed would only spend less time posing, and more time thinking, they would sell more Macs. Am I the only one who thinks this way?)
Anyway, back to the Epson. I found some problems printing from OS X. It seems to be always printing in draft mode, no matter how often I tried to switch to fine mode - so text at very fine point sizes pixellate noticeably, e.g., Garamond Light Italic at 8 or 9 point sizes. But I fell in love with the colour prints. I've waited a long time for colour laser printers to fall to this price point. So I made arrangements to test it further after the show and committed to buying it because I believe this problem can be solved. See how far good service gets you?