WITH the launch of its latest mid-range colour laser printer, Xerox has changed its approach to distribution of some of its desktop products in Hong Kong and worldwide. Starting last week, the new Xerox 4900 Color Laser Printer and the 4500 Desktop Network Printer launched earlier this summer will be primarily sold through distribution channels rather than directly by Xerox. This marks a shift of strategy for the company which traditionally has sold its products directly. It also serves as an acknowledgement of the trend for most network products to be sold through dealer channels. According to Debby Chan, Xerox's marketing manager for colour and network products, the market is clearly leaning towards channel distribution. 'In order to have the best coverage in the desktop publishing market, we are changing our strategy and will pass leads to the dealers,' Ms Chan said. 'Ninety per cent of all network printers are bought from dealers.' The new 4900 Color Laser Printer will be sold through channels and it represents what the company believes is a significant technological advantage in the mid-range colour laser printer market. 'The benefit is that we are faster, and this [printer] has many other functions,' Ms Chan said, adding that Xerox's main competition, QMS produced printers as much as one page per minute slower than the 4900. Xerox hopes its new $99,800 printer will be a success in small advertising agencies and businesses, but has not positioned the product against high-end proofing printers, where Xerox traditionally has been a major player. According to Ms Chan, the market for colour printers is not as mature in Hong Kong as it is in the US, where colour is becoming pervasive in business correspondence and documents. For this reason, she hopes that there is room in this market for large-scale expansion for products like the 4900. Among the features of the 4900 are a resolution of 1200 by 300 dots per inch (dpi), compared with the standard of 300 dpi on most colour laser printers, and the use of Xerox's Quad-dot technology which the firm claims eliminates visibly coarse dot patterns in half-tone printing. The 4900 can print at speeds of up to 12 pages per minute for black and white, and outputs colour at three pages per minute. Bundled software allows users to control the printer from their desktop computers. The printer includes PostScript Level 2 and PCL 5 emulation and can be expanded up to 48 MB of RAM. An optional Media Server provides a built-in 3.5 inch floppy disk drive which allows PostScript files stored on disk to be directly loaded into the printer and printed. 'If some of your users are not connected to a local area network (LAN), they can just generate a Post-Script file and walk to the printer and print it,' Ms Chan said, adding that the Media Server could also keep the printer in use if a LAN was down.