Bits & P.C.s: New Year’s resolutions – Part Three

Bits & P.C.s: New Year’s resolutions – Part Three

By Richard Heller

Over the past couple of issues we have been discussing an e-mail submitted by a reader of this paper that asked many questions regarding cameras and scanners. This week, let’s try to wrap it up by looking at printers and other devices.

When you purchase an ink jet or laser printer, it will have a statement regarding the number of dots-per-inch (DPI). This resolution has little to do with the resolution of your camera or scanner.

An ink jet printer places an image on a page usually by one of three common methods. Two of these methods are essentially the same; the third is rarely used in a consumer-based printer.

Hewlett Packard, Lexmark and Canon use a print head that contains the ink supply. In the print head, there are tiny resisters that heat up when a voltage is applied to them. The ink is literally boiled and is expelled through nozzles that direct the ink onto the paper. Epson uses a similar method, but rather than boiling the ink, they use a crystal that vibrates extremely fast and throws the ink through the nozzles. The number of ink colors along with the size, position and number of nozzles determine the quality of the image produced.

The third method uses wax colors that are melted onto the paper. This method can produce vibrant colors, but a printer that utilizes this printing process can cost $500 or more. Also, you can’t just walk into the local drug store on a Saturday night and pick up a spare ink cartridge as you can with the other printers.

Another way to “publish” your photos is by utilizing software that has become readily available in the past year or so. With many computers now coming with CD writers, it is possible to produce a CD containing a slideshow of photos or of videos. This CD is playable on a standard DVD player; you do not need a DVD writer to make the CD and you don’t need a computer to view the pictures. “Movies to CD & DVD” by Magix and “Smartdisk MVP” from Smartdisk each allow you to accomplish this for $50 each.

Another method that is just becoming available is a memory card reader that connects to your TV. These devices allow you to remove the memory card from your camera, insert it into the reader and create a slideshow of images. Some of these devices allow you to add narration or a sound track. Smartdisk also sells one of these devices for less than $100. Iomega also sells the FotoShow that will read your memory card and save the images to a Zip disk. The device then connects to the TV and comes with a remote control. The product sells for $200, but has been discontinued and may be found selling for much less.

We’ve covered a lot from just one e-mail. I hope you have found this to be informative and encourage you to send in your questions.

Richard Heller is an independent computer specialist who specializes in repairs, installation, upgrades, technical support, Internet sharing, data recovery and diagnostics. If you have any computer or service-related questions, please send them to The Rock River Times or e-mail

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