Atari Printer Reviews...


Based on the Centronics 737 quality dot matrix printer, the ATARI 825 is a very impressive device. Ideally suited to word-processing, business use, or a high-quality printer in the home, the 825 can produce three character sets and then an expanded version of each, for a total of six different types of characters. In the home it makes an ideal replacement for the typewriter, especially when combined with a word-processing system. The paper feed is both tractor and friction allowing you to use nearly any type of paper with precise control over your printing requirements.

Simple commands control the printing font (style of characters), whether or not you want underlining, and the foreward or reverse motion of the paper. An ('escape, escape, control Q' for example will print the 'SECONDARY CHARACTER SET'. You can easily combine two or more sets of characters on one line with one exception, and when you specify underlining, it is done the same time as the characters above it, not after.

The printhead distance from the paper can be adjusted by just flipping a lever, allowing you to print on thicker surfaces such as several carbon sheets or mailing labels. Paper can be sheet fed individually, fan-fold type, or on a roll. The paper rack on the back handles roll or glides fan-fold over it. Any of these can be pin fed or the friction rollers can handle at the top of a page, go to the bottom of that page, then return to the top again to print something next to the heading, and the printing will not be offset in any way.

Switches on the front of the 825 allow you to select from On-Line and Local permitting to manually advance or reverse the paper by using this in conjunction with the REV/FOR switch next to it. On the right is the on/off switch; the 825 cannot be on the same time as the 822 or 820; only one printer may be on at any given time or printout may not occur.

The high impact plastic cabinet of the 825 houses a micro-processor driven dot matrix driver with a continuous 'moebius' type ribbon, which at first look appears rather a strange setup. The ribbon is sort of bunched in a tray rather than spool driven giving the printer fewer parts to breakdown. The ribbon never need reverse direction; it rotates 180 degrees after the printhead and before if reaches the ribbon tray. So the next time it passes before the printhead the opposite side is used until it goes through a third time and it is flipped again. The 825 is a non-graphics printer, however there are rumors of a graphic chip allowing 825 owners to upgrade their printer to graphics capability. This and the rumored Screen Dump-er from ATARI should prove to be quite impressive (lets hope this isn't just a rumor). The 825 lists for $999.95 and includes the cable that attaches to the parallel port on the 850 interface module, and a 59 page user manual.



The ATARI 820 printer is a reliable, 40 column, dot matrix impact printer, capable of upper and lower case characters at a rate of 40 per second. In actuality, the 820's printer mechanism is from the Eaton 7000+ dot matrix printer. One thing which I found interesting is the fact that the 820 has virtually the same electronics as Atari's VCS. The same processor and PIA, with the PIA running the printer head instead of a television set. The main difference between the 820's electronics and the VCS board is the different ROM and the extra circuitry in the 820 to drive the printer head.

Before reviewing the 820, 1 wanted to put it through a very grueling workout. First, we decided to use the 820 for most of the long program listings in our last issue. However, the 820 printer comes standard with a blue ribbon (the type many grocery stores use in their registers) which doesn't reproduce well when reprinted or photocopied. Atari uses a 5/16 inch ribbon and recommends an Addressograph/Multigraph part number for replacement. Finding a 5/16 black ribbon was no easy task. I did however find a 5/16 ribbon which had to be transferred to the spool on the 820 (a messy job).

During the first month of use, I managed to use the

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