Printronix, the leading manufacturer of integrated enterprise printing solutions, today launched its SmartLine RFID product line, developed specifically for the European market. The portfolio consists of the new Printronix SL5000e MP Multiprotocol RFID smart label printer, a Smart Label Developer's Kit, a T5000e SR field-upgradeable thermal printer and an RFID upgrade kit.

The launch of the SmartLine range comes as research commissioned by Printronix and conducted by independent market research firm Vanson Bourne revealed 35 per cent of leading European retailers are now experimenting with RFID in their supply chain. Introduced earlier in the U.S. for support of EPC Class 0, 0+ and 1, the Printronix SmartLine RFID product line will now additionally support the UHF encoding of Philips UCODE EPC 1.19 tags in accordance to ETSI EN 300-220 specifications and will meet a growing demand for RFID solutions as nearly half of all European retailers are planning to conduct an RFID pilot in the next six months and 89 per cent plan to use RFID by 2006.

The Printronix SL5000e MP printer has been developed for retailers who want maximum flexibility and a migration path to future standards. The printer is also designed to help suppliers wanting to standardise worldwide on a single model for environments with mixed class applications and regional frequencies. The SL5000e MP was demonstrated in testing commissioned by EPCglobal as the only interoperable encoding platform for both EPC Class 0 and 1. In August, EPCglobal Inc. released its Hardware Interoperability Testing results to improve EPC and RFID hardware interoperability within the EPCglobal community. Printronix's SL5000e MP proved to work seamlessly with other participating manufacturers that supported either Alien Class 1 or Matrics Class 0 protocols. SL5000e MP printers also provide encoding and printing of multiple label sizes that have emerged as popular standards through some of the first pilot programs.

The launch of Printronix' Smart Label Developer's Kit provides a cost-effective set of tools integrated with an SL5000e MP RFID printer enabling users to encode and print smart labels right out of the box. This system allows users to test label read rates and label placement on various products in preparation for their pilot programs. It contains everything necessary to begin encoding smart labels:

- One Multiprotocol RFID thermal printer (SL5000e MP)
- 1000 Philips UCODE EPC 1.19 certified smart labels from Rafsec
- Software migration tools that permit seamless smart label encoding
- PrintNet(r) Enterprise Ethernet interface
- One 625 meter thermal ribbon
- Application notes
- Technical support
- Programming manuals

The kit also includes Printronix PrintNet Enterprise software, a Web-enabled remote network print management system that provides instantaneous visibility to every network printer. This function allows users to simultaneously configure and efficiently manage an unlimited number of Printronix printers.

In addition, Printronix's software migration tools (SMT's) include an EPC tool built into the printer, allowing the use of any existing label design software to create an EPC RFID smart label. These tools support both PGL and ZPL(tm) data streams. The printer also comes with a complete set of programming manuals.

The new Printronix T5000e SR printer is a specifically configured version of the T5000e thermal printer that can be easily upgraded in the field to RFID encoding. The T5000e SR printer allows companies to purchase the thermal printers they need today without worrying how they will fit into future RFID plans. This upgrade path provides asset protection on thermal printer purchases made during the pilot and early adoption phase of RFID technology.

"Our new SmartLine range has been designed specifically to meet European demand for RFID pilots, while conforming to ETSI UHF standards," said Anne Sharp, EMEA marketing communications manager at Printronix. "The SL5000e MP printer and the Smart Label Developer's Kit will allow retailers to forge ahead in their RFID pilot programs while the T5000e SR is an ideal solution for those companies requiring thermal printing solutions today, but anticipating migration to RFID after the early adoption phase."

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