First Look: Panasonic’s Next Generation MFP

Wayne N. Kawamoto
Managing Editor,

Panasonic announced the launch of a new series of WORKiO digital imaging systems, designed for workgroups of 20 or more. According to the company, the multifunction WORKiO DP-6010, 4510 and 3510 are state-of-the-art document management systems that can be connected to a local area network right out of the box via the built-in 10Base-T/100Base-TX Ethernet interface. Also supplied is a parallel interface for direct connection to a PC.

The company says it has simplified the control panel, which now features an oversized, touch-sensitive LCD display; enhanced graphical user interface (GUI); and what Panasonic believes to be a logical, intuitive layout for quick access to any function. With the WORKiO in copy mode, the half-VGA (640 x 240 pixels) display shows both the original image and what the final output will look like, for WYSIWYG operation. When being used remotely, the WORKiO system automatically sends a completion notice to the user’s PC.

Copy Function
The WORKiOs are designed to copy at 60 (DP-6010), 45 (DP-4510) and 35 (DP-3510) copies per minute, with a first-copy time of less than 3.5 seconds. With 600×600-dpi resolution and 256-level grayscale, image quality should be good. Panasonic says it has incorporated new image processing technology in the series, including ultra fine toner and carrier particles that are 20% smaller and provide accurate image reproduction. The WORKiO systems should produce crisp, legible copies with virtually no blurring of small characters, and clear, sharp photos.

The new WORKiO models support network connectivity with a standard Ethernet interface, which enables a number of convenience features. Concurrent Copy should allow the system to handle up to 12 jobs at a time. For extra-large-volume copying, Tandem Copy enables two WORKiOs to work jointly on a single job. With Remote Copy, jobs can be sent to another WORKiO unit in another room or on another floor. Proof Copy outputs a proof set for double-checking before committing to a large quantity.

Print Function
The new WORKiO units include intelligent network printing capability using Windows Printing System technology. Print speeds (letter) are 60 (DP-6010), 45 (DP-4510) and 35ppm (DP-3510). These WORKiO units can handle paper sizes from invoice to ledger. Image quality is driven by 600×600-dpi resolution with 256-level grayscale. Panasonic’s exclusive image enhancement technology may further improve printout quality to 1200 dpi equivalent, resulting in superb photo and graphics reproduction with clear, crisp details and smooth gradations. In addition to standard Windows printing, optional printer drivers give the WORKiO PCL and PostScript capability. Printing flexibility is further enhanced with the built-in automatic duplex unit.

The printer can be controlled from a desktop, enabling the user to check the virtual printed results on the left side of the printer driver screen while specifying commands via the graphical user interface (GUI). Finishing results can be confirmed on-screen, and with the new visual status monitor, the status of a remote WORKiO can be checked in real time, allowing a quicker response to problems such as paper jams and depleted toner. In addition, documents can be stored in a user’s personal mailbox or security box – with space for up to 100 users – and printed at a later time.

Using the enhanced GUI, the print queue may be viewed and even deleted for each print or copy job, and approximate job times can be displayed. If on a network, the administrator can monitor device status with the job queue and other WORKiO controls, and also set up or configure the system.

Scan Function
With network scanning capability, the new models offer high-speed digitization of paper documents. Originals up to ledger size can be converted to PC data. With 600×600-dpi resolution and 256-level grayscale, original images and text should be accurately reproduced. The standard, automatic duplex document feeder, holds up to 70 sheets (letter) at a time and can batch feed a number of pages, limited only by the amount of memory installed.

Built-in network connectivity enables scanned documents to be transferred to any client PC on the LAN – a far more efficient way of sharing documents than printing out copies. The multi-protocol, multi-network design ensures that the systems can connect without fail across all Windows, Macintosh and Unix network operating systems.

The new systems should allow a user to either convert a paper document into PC data using the Scan-to-File function, or scan a paper document and send the scanned data to a specified PC using the Scan-to-PC function. With Scan-to-FTP (file transfer protocol), scanned data can be transferred to an FTP server on the network, so images can be downloaded to the client PC or transferred to another network via the Internet. Images can be automatically scanned to TIFF-F or PDF file formats and can directly launch third party applications such as OCR. The control panel’s user-friendly, animated LCD displays the progress of the scanning operation.

Document Management
Desktop document management may be easy with the provided Document Management System software that enables management of scanned documents and other PC data. When a scanned image arrives on a PC, Document Manager automatically alerts the user. Using the document viewer, comments can be added or memo slips attached to the image. Scanned documents can be managed by “drag and drop” and shared by network PCs. And with the provided Panafax Desktop software, a fax may be sent directly from a user’s PC without having to print it.

Panasonic’s DD Storage System is provided for large-scale document management on a client-server network. When DD Server software is installed, scanned documents are stored on the DD Server automatically, and the proprietary DD code is stamped on the document’s cover page. With the code stamp, a document can be retrieved from the server and printed. Stored documents can also be retrieved from the Document Manager screen by any PC on the network.

Fax Function
The optional fax communication kit transforms the WORKiO into a 33.6 kbps Super G3 fax, transmitting at about 3 seconds per page (letter). Panasonic’s 0.7-second Quick Scan may shorten prep time. In addition, the Quick Memory Transmission may save time by connecting to the receiver and beginning transmission while still collecting data. And because of the WORKiO systems’ high-resolution scanning capability, 600×600-dpi resolution is available for G3 fax or Internet fax.

With the Internet fax option, paper documents are converted to TIFF-F image files and transmitted as e-mail attachments via the LAN. Sometimes called “free fax,” this Send-to-Email feature enables the document to be sent directly to other Internet devices, or even to multiple e-mail clients worldwide. When LAN and PSTN lines are used at the same time, e-mail/G3 mixed broadcast is a convenient way to send the same document to both e-mail addresses and G3 fax machines.

Paperless faxing is yet another WORKiO capability. Image files sent as e-mail attachments can be opened and displayed using the existing image viewer (e.g., Imaging for Windows), enabling paperless fax delivery. WORKiO’s fax/e-mail gateway function can automatically route received faxes to the designated recipient’s e-mail inbox. Similarly, documents sent from a PC via the LAN can be transmitted to a G3 fax machine.

Paper Handling and Document Finishing
The WORKiOs have a standard paper capacity of up to 2,150 sheets, with options for up to 6,250 sheets. The standard, built-in, stackless duplex unit may ensure trouble-free, high-speed duplex copying. Finishing capabilities include stapling, punching and saddle-stitching; other finishing options are available.

Document production is accelerated by such features as N-in-1copy for copying multiple originals on a single sheet, Zoom Copy for specification of enlargement/reduction ratios and Image Rotation for accurate copies, regardless of paper orientation.

Productivity-enhancing, high-speed duplexing is available with the standard inverting ADF unit. Sort Copy electronically collates copies as shifted or rotated sorts. Sorting capability is further enhanced by adding expandable sorting memory.

Ease of Maintenance
Panasonic designed its new generation of MFPs with full front access for easy maintenance. The entire printer engine can be pulled out toward the front to clear a paper jam.

Panasonic’s Remote Maintenance System includes Check & Call, which automatically reports low-toner status and certain mechanical problems to a service center. Panasonic’s expert technicians use a Remote Diagnostic System to quickly identify most problems via a telephone line and offer a solution.

As with all WORKiO systems, the new models are Energy Star-compliant and feature the Energy Saver system that significantly reduces power consumption when the machine is idle. When the system enters sleep mode, power consumption drops to nearly zero. The low-noise, low-ozone emission design helps keep the office environment quiet and clean.

Other available options include:

– Finishing: 2-bin finisher; 1-bin saddle-stitching finisher; high-speed 2-bin finisher; 2-bin saddle-stitching finisher.

– System-expandable options: sorting memory; hard disk option; DD memory options; Accounting Management Software; Job Management Software.

– Paper supply options: 550-sheet paper module; 3000-sheet, large-capacity cassette.

Availability and Pricing
Panasonic is shipping the DP-6010 and 4510 to its dealers in April, and is scheduled to ship the DP-3510 in July. The WORKiO DP-6010 and 4510 base models carry MSRPs of $17,995.00 and $12,995, respectively. The MSRP for the DP-3510 has not yet been released. The fax option is priced at $1,445.00.

Small Business Computing Staff
Small Business Computing Staff
Small Business Computing addresses the technology needs of small businesses, which are defined as businesses with fewer than 500 employees and/or less than $7 million in annual sales.

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