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PostScript Emulation

Posted on 1999-06-23
Medium Priority
Last Modified: 2013-12-02
What is the difference between postscript emulation and postscript?  This pertains to a printer I am considering buying, which lists one of its specs as "postscript emulation".
Question by:wetheridge
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Expert Comment

ID: 2016051
One of them is the real thing, and the other is not? :-)

The printed difference is on the mor ecomplicated PostScript, the emulated one may not print correctly.

If you plan to print a LOT of PostScript, you should find one that has genuine Adobe PostScript interpreter built-in.

Accepted Solution

thoffman earned 200 total points
ID: 2016052
Basically, the difference between a PostScript printer and PostScript emulation is essentially the same as the difference between a hardware modem and a software modem.

A true PostScript printer has a chip on it that handles the PostScript interperation.  The printer driver creates a PostScript driver and sends the raw PostScript data to the printer.

With PostScript emulation, the driver creates the PostScript driver, then takes a look at the PostScript code and converts it into raster data for the printer.  This involves a little more processor overhead for the rasterization, but does lower the cost of the printer significantly.

As far as quality differences, there shouldn't be much of a difference.  In both cases, software is analyzing the PostScript data and converting it to something the printer engine understands.  The difference with a true PostScript printer is that the software is running in the printer's CPU, rather than in your computer's CPU.

Price-wise, the software emulated PostScript printer should be significantly less expensive than a comparable hardware PostScript printer, since there's a lot less hardware on the printer's controller board.  This is the biggest advantage.

As for speed, if you have a slow machine, then emulated PostScript is going to be slower.  However, if you have a fast machine, it may actually be faster, since you're more than likely going to have a more powerful processor and more RAM than a typical printer does.  Plus, with a raster-based printer, if you upgrade your PC, you are pretty much upgrading your printer's processor and RAM as well (since it uses your computer's processor and RAM).

Expert Comment

ID: 2016053
Disagree with thoffman's answer.

There are printers out there with "Postscript Emulation" that are NOT sanctioned by Adobe. Microsoft sponsors one called PhoenixScript. That's why those printers with Adobe sanctioned PostScript now has the Adobe "Guinuine Adobe PostScript" logo.

Those machines that do NOT have the genuine Adobe Postscript interpreter can only be said to have PostScript Emulation. If they claim to run PostScript, Adobe will sue them. THAT is the difference between emulation and the real thing.

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Expert Comment

ID: 2016054
kschang is right.

Expert Comment

ID: 2016055
I mostly agree with Kschang, mostly (sorry, couldn't resist).

Reject my answer.  Kschang is correct in that there are printers with hardware PostScript emulation on them in a chip and deserves the points.  

However, keep in mind that there are several printers out there that use SOFTWARE emulation.  These are considerably less expensive than even a hardware PS clone, since there is no need to create a chip that handles the PostScript interpretation, and there's no need to have circuitry on the printer's board to handle multiple printer languages.  The software interpreters have their own set of advantages and disadvantages.

Expert Comment

ID: 6873899

This question was awarded, but never cleared due to the JSP-500 errors of that time.  It was "stuck" against userID -1 versus the intended expert whom you awarded.  This corrects the problem and the expert will now receive these points; points verified.

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