PCL5 or PCL6?

A comparison of PCL6 and PCL5 is given below:
PCL6 Advantages:
  • It has better WYSIWYG (what you see is what you get) printing, improved print quality, Tuer document fidelity.
  • PCL6 is specially designed for graphics while gray-scale images, which are processed as objects, appear smooth and even, offering superior and fast print quality for graphics and scanned images.
  • PCL 6 commands are designed to closely match Microsoft Windows graphical direct interface (GDI). Users will regain control of their PC and application sooner because PCL 6 allows the printer driver to translate GDI to PCL 6 faster than before.
  • PCL6 commands are compiled before sending to the printer so network throughput will improve because of smaller and more compact commands. HP says that the data volume is 50 to 90 percent smaller than PCL5. Although PCL6 generates smaller file sizes in certain network configurations, the speed of today's host processors and networks may offset the performance benefits of having smaller file sizes.
  • It has complete backward compatibility (can be used for older printer models)
Version History:
Let have a look at the previous versions and history of PCL (Printer Control Language). PCL was was originally devised for the HP Dot Matrix and inkjet series printers. The first HP Laser Jet series printer was released in 1984 with the PCL 3 language. Other versions of PCL are:
PCL 5e: provides black & white printing.
PCL 5c: provides black white and color printing.
PCL 6: Provides black & white and color printing.
PCL Minidriver

PCL 5 and PCL 5e:
PCL5 was introduced with the HP Laser Jet III Series laser printer, somewhere in 1990. It was released to allow compatibility for industry acceptance for font scaling, outline fonts and HP- GL/2 (Vector) graphics. It was capable of printing more complex desktop publishing, graphic design and presentation applications. In addition to PCL 5, the LaserJet III series introduced the technique called "Resolution Enhancement", in which small dots are automatically placed at the edges of lines and characters to reduce the ragged edge sometimes visible on 300 d.p.i. prints.
The LaserJet III series was replaced by the LaserJet4 with PCL 5e, which introduced a higher printing resolution of 600 d.p.i., a fast bi-directional Centronics-type parallel port (Bi-Tronics) so that the printer can give more status information to the computer, and a selection of fonts dedicated to use with Microsoft Windows application software. It features a wider selection of fonts for use primarily with the MS Windows environment and applications. There are a few minor enhancements to PCL 5, resulting in PCL 5e (enhanced), primarily allowing the printer to talk to the computer to report status messages, errors etc.. The enhancements in PCL 5e do not have any significant effect on the page description functionality in the language. The LaserJet 4 series of printers includes the LaserJet 4 (600 d.p.i., 8p.p.m.), the LaserJet 4L (300 d.p.i., 4 p.p.m.), the LaserJet 4P (600 d.p.i., 4p.p.m.) and the LaserJet 4Si (600 d.p.i., 16p.p.m.). In addition to the basic range, all the LaserJet 4 range is available with the Adobe Postscript level 2 Page Description Language built-in in addition to PCL 5e, these models are designated by the letter "M" after the number (4M, 4ML, 4MP, 4SiMX). Today's PCL 6e is equivalent to PCL 5e.
PCL 5C (Color)
PCL 5c (equivalent to PCL 6c) is an enhancement to PCL5 to add functional color support for HP color laserjet printers. It offers no other changes except the commands needed to support for color printing. It is compatible with PCL 5 so it can also be used for mono-color (black&white) printing.
Main difference between PCL 6 and PC 5 is that PCL 6 commands are not transmitted as text but as small, succinct bits of data.
PCL Modes:
The PCL language has four modes or ways of specifying and using color:
• Black-and-White (monochrome) mode is the default mode so that backward compatibility with previous printers is maintained. When the printer is turned on it has a 2-entry palette containing the color white at index 0 and black at index 1.
• Simple Color mode is entered with the Simple Color command, which creates one of three fixed color palettes: A monochrome, two-entry palette with white at index 0 and black at index 1.
An RGB, eight-entry palette with the following colors starting at index 0: black, red, green, yellow, blue, magenta, cyan, and white.A CMY, eight-entry palette with the following colors starting at index 0: white, cyan, magenta, blue, yellow, green, red and black.
• PCL Imaging mode is entered with the Configure Image Data command that creates a programmable palette of aprogrammed size. This palette can be programmed using the color component and set index commands.
• HP-GL/2 Imaging mode is entered when HP GL/2 mode is entered and the initialize command IN creates a programmable palette that is shared between PCL and HP-GL/2.
 Any and all of the modes can be used on a page. For example, you could enter the Simple Color mode to print a headline and bar chart, PCL imaging mode to print a photographic image, and Black-and-White mode for the text on the page.