Though the market is overrun by all kinds of Inkjet printers, ask any local shopkeeper who needs to print bills every minute and he'll tell you how much he loves his trusty old dot-matrix printer. And why shouldn't he, these printers are not only excellent workhorses, they are the most economical form of desktop printing.
TVS recently launched its new range of dot-matrix printers, which include a cute blue printer that looks good enough to put a lot of inkjets to shame - the TVS Proton. Not only is it good in looks, but it is also claimed to be the world's fastest bill printer. Sounds interesting? Let's find out more.
What's in the Box
The box contains the main printer unit, a printer ribbon and an ink bank for the ribbon, Serial port cable, driver CD, and a manual. The printer installation is fairly easy - just place the ink bank in the ribbon cartridge's slot and fix the ribbon cartridge inside the printer. The software installation is a breeze through the Web interface on the CD.
This 9 wire, 80-column bi-directional printer looks quite cute in comparison to most dot-matrix printers with its inkjet-inspired small size and its blue color scheme. At 420 x 220 x 180 mm in size and 4.5 kg in weight, it's convenient to place at a cash counter or even a desktop instead of getting an additional stand for it.
Once the printer was installed we ran a couple of tests to see if this printer really lives up to its claims.
With the first few test prints that we ran after the installation, we noticed that the Proton had just about the same problems that we usually find in dot-matrix printers. It had a problem accepting regular A4 size sheets. The sensor would always detect the sheet way too early, resulting in the printer roller spinning before the page could even touch it. Every A4 size sheet we wanted to test on had to be inserted multiple times before it would get accepted, and that too inaccurately.
The printer, though, behaved well with the continuous feed printer paper and didn't give any problems like paper jams. However, it was very inaccurate in judging the start and the end of the page, so if we printed a word document, the page breaks would end up at all the wrong places even after fine tuning the page setup on every occasion.
For all our usage we had to print in draft mode, as any other mode would use up way too much ink causing a lot of spillage and a powdery coating of extra ink on the print.
We performed a Font test on the printer where we printed a Microsoft Word document containing Ariel and Times New Roman fonts starting from point size 24 going all the way down to point size 1, in regular, bold and italics, to test the printer's capacity to handle complex textual data. In the printout from the TVS Proton, fonts starting from point size 5 onwards were easily comprehendible, making this a pretty decent printer even for small sized bills.
Since the biggest USP for the TVS Proton is that it's the world's fastest bill printer, we decided to put this claim to the test. We ran a speed test using regular sized dot matrix tractor feed paper, and the Proton shot out 2.98 pages per minute. So is that fast? Definitely! But is it the world's fastest? A resounding No!
The Final Print
It's now time for the biggest shocker - the Proton is available at a street price of Rs. 7,900. Agreed, the printer looks nice and is quite fast in draft printouts, but practically everything else was not up to the best standards. But then again it all comes down to what you need it for. If you want a good showpiece on your desk that effectively prints bills fast, then you may not mind spending that extra lump. However, if eye candy is not your biggest priority then you can find more effective printers at lesser prices.
Test Unit Sourced From: TVS Electronics Limited, Mumbai.