Have you noticed that nobody writes about printers anymore? We mean technology writers. It seems like everybody’s always writing about cell phones or PDAs or digital cameras. That stuff’s OK once in a while, but all the time? Face it: We need printers.

This is a lead-in to our going out last week and buying a new printer. We bought an Okidata C5800 color laser that can print both sides of a sheet of Okidata 5800 paper at the same time. We paid $800. “Smart buy,” the clerk said, and he wasn’t being sarcastic.

We had to buy one because Joy was printing the second edition of her cookbook for a local woman’s club and wanted to be able to print on both sides of the paper. That’s called duplex printing.

We had been using a Magicolor 2300W from Konica Minolta and reinserting printed pages to print on the other side. It was a really good printer, but after a while it started putting a smudge on every page.

In this way we learned you shouldn’t run printed pages through a laser printer a second time. Sooner or later you’re going to develop a smudge on the fuser assembly and have to buy a new one. It will cost as much as buying a new printer.

Over the years, we’ve tried just about every brand and type of printer made, including many that aren’t made anymore. The best ones have been from Konica and Okidata.

This gives Bob an opportunity to tell his Okidata printer story. It goes like this: Years ago, Bob had this huge, heavy Okidata dot matrix printer, and he accidentally pushed it off the edge of the desk. It hit the floor and bounced and then went bumpity-bump down a long flight of stairs. He brought it back up and plugged it in, and everything worked fine, as if nothing had happened.

Weight could be a significant factor in Okidata printers. This new color laser printer weighs about 57 pounds, which is 10 pounds heavier than the other color lasers we’ve used. Very heavy duty. It prints so fast that we were waiting a few seconds for a printout when Bob noticed it was already out.

Build Your Own Keyboard

The DX1 keyboard from Ergodex lets you put up to 25 keys wherever you want them.

You start with a smooth pad, measuring 9.4-by-11 inches, that’s sensitive to radio frequencies. The 25 keys come with tiny built-in transmitters. They can be Ergodexmapped for specific functions or macros and positioned anywhere on the board that seems best for the way you use them. Gamers, engineers and stock or commodity traders, who often perform the same actions over and over, would likely be the ideal users here.

Once positioned on the board, the keys stick there, but they can be released and moved to a new location with a slight twist. You can actually hold a key a little distance above the board, cupped in your hand, and it will still function.

The Ergodex software can also recognize program changes. So if you start using Photoshop, the keys will immediately be ready to execute functions and macros you set up for Photoshop.

This is an interesting device and can probably be put to a lot more uses than we can think of. It’s $150 at or


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