BRILLIANT computers are all well and good and help people produce wonderful eye-catching documents, but for hard copies users have long had to settle for less-than-acceptable output. However, this year technology has improved because users have been more demanding about the quality of the final product. Dot matrix machines are being replaced by the faster and better quality laser and ink-jet machines. The requirement of speed of the dots per inch (dpi) is one driving force and the rapid introduction of colour printing is becoming more mainstream in the office environment. IDC Asia Pacific peripherals programs manager Lane Leskela said: 'Over the past five years dot matrix has been replaced by laser and now the inkjet market is catching up. 'And as many big brand name manufacturers like Hewlett Packard, Cannon and Epson dominate the market, 50 per cent of the market is now dominated by the inkjet printers.' Printer manufacturers seem to think otherwise - they feel that technology and users are the main driving forces. Xerox colour products marketing manager Debby Chan said: 'We see the printer market growing from the low end, as the public is getting better knowledge with printer technology. 'From early last year there was an increase in the inkjet market.' Tektronix regional sales manager Simon Tsang agreed that technology and the consumer were the main driving force of the printer industry. Technology can drive up costs and increase both speed and reliability of the machine and provide media flexibility. Consumers also need to understand more about how printers can help daily functions which will stimulate demand. In the off-set printing area, a lot of high-end manufacturers are coming in because of increasing market potential. The mid-range and high-end markets keep growing as companies become more aware of the value of having in-house printers rather than sending work out for output. This had lead to a to growth in the office and small business market, Xerox' Ms Chan said. But what is driving the growth in the consumer market is the introduction of operating systems such as Windows 95 and the increasing amount of information being downloaded off the Internet and other on-line services - information that often needs to be output. Ms Chan said the use of colour by individuals was minimal but in offices they were becoming the in thing. The technology that is driving the market is the solid inkjet which can print on any paper, and many pages per minute. Laser printers were much faster and also printed on any paper, but their weaknesses were cost and maintenance, Tektronix' Mr Tsang said. Inkjet machines outsell lasers six or seven to one. Ms Chan said that in future, lasers would replace inkjets with a de facto industry standard of 600x600 dpi.