Laser printers are a staple in offices worldwide, making desktop publishing possible. But they're feeling the heat from another technology, inkjet printing, which blasts tiny drops of ink at paper. The method is clearly pulling ahead in color printing, for example. Hewlett-Packard Co., the laser-printer leader, and Lexmark International Inc., a two-year-old IBM spin-off, have just announced the development of ground-breaking color inkjets.
HP's $1,095 DeskJet 550C uses two print heads--one for the three primary colors and one for black--to print rich black tones. Lexmark's $3,495 Color Jetprinter prints 360 dots per inch, vs. 300 for the DeskJet. Meanwhile, Canon Computer Systems Inc. has attacked the low-end laser market with the BJ-200 black-and-white inkjet, which will likely retail for only $350. C.J. Meiser, senior market analyst for market researcher BIS Strategic Decisions, predicts that by 1996, U.S. inkjet sales will hit 3.3 million units, passing low-end (below 20 pages per minute) lasers at 3.1 million units.