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Article #28 (74 is last):
Newsgroups: freenet.sci.comp.atari.product.8bit.reviews
From: aa700@cleveland.Freenet.Edu (Michael Current)
Subject: MagniPrint II / utility / commercial
Posted-By: xx004 (aa700 - Michael Current)
Reply-To: aa700@cleveland.Freenet.Edu (Michael Current)
Date: Wed Feb 12 00:04:25 1992


Reprinted from the A.C.E.C. BBS (614)-471-8559


NOTICE: This article originally appeared in the December, 1988 issue of
Michigan Atari Magazine (now called Atari Interface Magazine) and may be
freely distributed or reprinted in non-profit User Group publications as long
as the article's author and Atari Interface Magazine are credited AND this
notice is reprinted with the article.  All other publications must obtain
written permission from Unicorn Publications, 3487 Braeburn Circle, Ann Arbor,
MI 48108, Phone: (313) 973-8825 before using this article.

MagniPrint II from Alpha Systems
by Bob Retelle (MACE &WAUG)

Your computer's printer, if it's like mine, is probably one of those often
neglected "work-horse" pieces of hardware.  It's there when you need it, and
it gets the job done, but it usually doesn't get to have any fun of its own.

Well, Alpha Systems has come to the rescue of bored printers everywhere, with
"Magniprint II+."  This program lets you print out graphics from a wide
selection of sources in an amazing variety of ways.  You can print pictures in
sizes ranging from small "quicky" printouts, to giant wall-sized posters, in
full color, or even on T-Shirts!

While the program includes many outstanding features, probably one of the BEST
is the company behind it.  Originally released almost six years ago,
Magniprint has gone through many changes on its way to the Version 4.1 that
was tested for this review.  Quoting from the letter which accompanied our
review copy of Magniprint, "At Alpha Systems, we believe that a product is
never really finished, that it is never the best it could be.  There is always
something more it could do, some way it could be better...   We believe in
continuously supporting our customers and encourage all current Magniprint
owners to take advantage of our upgrade offer."  If you own an earlier
version, all you have to do is send your original disk back, along with $10,
and you will receive the the newest revision, complete with documentation.

Speaking of the documentation, Magniprint II+ comes with a well-written and
very complete 53-page manual.  It first gives you an introduction to all the
features of this version and then takes you through a tutorial on setting up
your printer and exploring the printing options.  The disk comes set up for
Epson/Star printers, but allows you to change the printer driver to match your
printer.  Once you've selected your printer, the change is written to the
disk, so you only have to go through this step once.

The Magniprint disk includes several pictures in different Graphics modes, so
you can experiment with the printing options right away.  Pictures can be
printed in a quick "draft" mode, which will give you an idea of how they will
look, as either a positive or negative print.  The pictures can be printed out
in various sizes up to a full sheet of paper, or sections of a picture can be
"zoomed" up to fill a full sheet.  The printout can be made horizontally or
vertically on the page and can be printed normally or as a "negative."

In addition to the actual printing options, Magniprint II+ allows you to add
text to your pictures, in either the normal system typeface, or in a font you
can load from the disk.  The program uses the standard 9-sector Atari font
file, so you can also use alternate character sets you've created with font
editors.  The text can be any of four different sizes, so you can add titles
to the pictures, or create signs and posters from your pictures.

A very nice "touch" is the touch-up mode.  Many times a picture, especially
digitized photos from ComputerEyes, may have a flaw here and there. Magniprint
II+ allows you to "retouch" the picture before printing it.  This feature is
not a substitute for the full drawing functions of a "paint" program, but it
can definitely make a difference in the appearance of the final printout.

On some printers, the printout can be centered automatically as it is printed
out, and there is also a "mirror" mode which flips the picture over, and
prints it "backwards."  This is intended to be used with special "thermal
transfer" ribbons which will allow you to make your own "iron on" T-Shirt
transfers, direct from your computer!

You can scroll the picture on the screen both horizontally and vertically, and
even save the picture back to disk in compressed Koala format.  While not
originally intended to be used this way, Magniprint II+ actually gives you the
ability to convert many different graphics file formats into the more popular
Koala .PIC format.

Probably the most well-known, and most FUN, function of Magniprint is the
ability to create POSTER size printouts of your computer pictures.
Unfortunately, the manual doesn't tell what the actual dimensions of the
posters will be, but the "medium" sized poster I printed was about three feet
square, and a "small" one about half that size, so I'd imagine a "large"
poster would be about six by six feet  (No, I haven't tried a full sized
poster yet.  While the results are very good, it does take a loooooong time to
print!).

There is one tiny little improvement I'd like to see in the program, just by
way of "nitpicking."  The program creates the large poster size printouts by
dividing the picture up into "strips" which are just the width of your paper.
It then prints each strip on as many sheets of paper as are needed for the
size you specified, with each strip separated by a blank sheet of paper.  The
process is fully automatic and doesn't require you to do anything once you've
started the printout (other than wait!).  If you tear the strips apart
carefully when the printing is done, it's fairly easy to piece the poster
together.  However, if you're like me, and wait until the last minute before a
computer club meeting, then end up grabbing the poster strips out of the
printer as you run out the door, you may find assembling the poster may be a
bit of a "puzzle."

It took a few minutes of turning, rearranging and standing back squinting at
the picture to get it all put together properly.  The individual strips are
nothing but patterns of random seeming dots by themselves, and it's only when
the entire picture is reassembled and viewed from a distance that it becomes
clear what the subject is.  (Our past-president, Don Neff, wandered by, looked
at the garble of dots on the paper and said "Oh yes, my printer used to do
that sometimes.")  At any rate, I wish the program would print some kind of
identification of which strip is which, and which way was "up" on the sheets
in between the strips.  Other than that, I found very little else to complain
about!

Not only does Magniprint II+ give you this wide range of printing options, it
also gives you an amazing array of picture types that you can print.  While
Koalapad and Atari Touch Tablet format pictures are the only format that can
be loaded directly, the program will convert other graphics formats for you.
The menu of formats you can use includes: Microp-Painter, Micro Illustrator,
Paint, Fun With Art, B/Graph, Graphic Master, Super Sketch, Strip Poker, Movie
Maker backgrounds, Graphics Magician, Atari Graphics Light Pen, Print Shop,
Syngraph, ComputerEyes and Typesetter Sketch Pad Icon.

Pictures can be printed from Graphics modes 8 and 9 and from Antic mode "E"
(sometimes called mode 7.5), the four color high resolution mode used by Koala
pictures.  Magniprint also will convert among these modes for you at the press
of a single key.  I found this to be quite handy, as it seemed that the large
posters I printed from digitized photos looked better in Graphics 9 than in
the Koala mode E format I had on my disk.  When you print a picture in the
multi-color mode, Magniprint will allow you to select the shading of the four
colors.  This will allow you to "fine-tune" the printout for each picture. The
program uses different patterns of dots for each shade of grey, so your
printouts can actually end up looking better than they did on the screen.  It
may take some experimentation with this feature to get the best results when
adjusting the colors in this way, but the final results can be well worth the
effort.

Alpha Systems has also provided BASIC program subroutines that you can include
in your own BASIC programs to capture pictures from within your programs. This
way you can easily make printouts of the screens your programs generate.

There are many variations on some of the features, and others I'm sure I've
missed.  This is one of those programs with new things to be found every time
you run it!

Also included on the Magniprint disk is a handy printing utility called
"PRINTALL."  This allows you to print out your BASIC program listings EXACTLY
the way they appear on the screen, including all those "unprintable" graphics
and control characters.  If the BASIC program includes a machine code
subroutine in a string, PRINTALL will print it to paper, just as it appears on
your screen, rather than making your printer go berserk.

So go ahead and make your printer happy this Holiday season! Buy it a copy of
Magniprint II+ and it won't be bored again!

List price: $24.95 from Alpha Systems, 1012 Skyland Drive, Macedonia, OH
44056
-- 
 Michael Current, Cleveland Free-Net 8-bit Atari SIGOp   -->>  go atari8  <<--
   The Cleveland Free-Net Atari SIG is the Central Atari Information Network
      Internet: currentm@carleton.edu / UUCP: ...!umn-cs!ccnfld!currentm
     BITNET: currentm%carleton.edu@{interbit} / Cleveland Free-Net: aa700





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