Sinclair Computers Discussion

This blog is intended to provide a discussion for all things linked with Sinclair computers (the ZX80, ZX81, Spectrum, QL and Cambridge Z88). RWAP Software provide support for all of these computers and we welcome your comments.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

We have recently had some very successful reports for people using old DOS and emulator programs who are struggling to find a compatible printer. Whilst Printfil has been one product which we have commended in the past for this sort of situation, it is limited to mainly text and does not understand many control codes. We and several others have found that QPCPrint is now a much better alternative, particularly if your program outputs a mixture of text and graphics and expects to output to an EPSON compatible printer. QPCPrint understands a much wider range of ESC/P2 programming codes, and can therefore provide output much closer to the original on any modern Windows Printer - more details and a link to a demonstration version of QPCPrint is available on our webpage dedicated to older printers and printing from DOS / emulators

Why do we need this?

I suppose the answer is that if you have never found that you cannot print from a program, you do not need this. However, many users of emulators and DOS programs find that their program will only send output direct to the parallel port, using its own inbuilt command codes. Many modern printers will not even accept plain text sent to the parallel port (that is if they even connect through the parallel port - most are USB nowadays). As printers have developed, they expect Windows to do all of the hard work and convert text and graphics into something which they can understand without having to convert - this cuts down on the cost of hardware, but means a loss of compatibility with older programs.

How do Printfil and QPCPrint work?

Both Printfil and QPCPrint are Windows based programs, set up as pseudo printer drivers on your computer. They look for any output set to a parallel port (eg. LPT1 is the default), then capture this output and convert it into data which can then be printed on any modern printer connected to Windows. This can be done in the background, or you can use options to view the output and decide which printer to use.

Printfil is the only program of the two which can handle a printer which is actually connected to LPT1. However, QPCPrint is more accurate when it comes to printing from a program which expects an EPSON printer.

Try them both and see what you think. We can offer some advice and assistance if you are struggling.

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