Color printers have been slow to catch on because they've been expensive and difficult to use. Then last year, Hewlett-Packard Co. brought out one priced below $500. Now, the company is attacking the other part of the problem. Its ColorSmart software, embedded in two new printers, automatically adjusts the colors it prints for maximum quality.
Currently, customers must make as many as 15 adjustments to obtain printed colors as vivid as those on their computer screens. Such adjustments are particularly difficult when disparate color elements are involved. Adjust the color intensity for a tricolored bar chart, for example, and the photo on that same page could look less realistic. ColorSmart, for both IBM-compatible PCs and Apple Macintosh machines, scans a document's electronic image while it's being sent to the printer and automatically determines which parts are text, photos, and graphs. Then, it searches a library of color selections and chooses the best one for each element on the page. The result is crisper black type and brighter colors. Current HP color printer owners can obtain the software for free over CompuServe Inc., a leading on-line computer service.
EDITED BY PAUL M. ENG