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NorthWest News Group Selects alfaQuest CTP Solution

Press release from the issuing company

Rolling Meadows, IL March 20, 2006 - NorthWest News Group of Greater Chicago has selected alfaQuest Technologies, Inc. to provide their FasTRAK Violet CTP Imagers and PrintExpress workflow system. NorthWest News Group, publisher of two daily newspapers and 24 non-dailies in Chicago's northwest suburbs, is a subsidiary of Dixon, Illinois-based Shaw Newspapers. The configuration for the Northwest Herald consist of PrintExpress, for controlling CTP production workflow, two Ultra Series FasTRAK Violet 180 units and NewsColor Proofing software printing on HP 4000's. PrintExpress/CPM, consolidated production management, is the ultimate in newspaper workflow performance. It forms a distributed client/server output management system using standard platforms and standard TCP/IP communication protocols. Each software module provides a specific function and forms an interlocking building block from which the whole system is built. Modules included are PDF/ Postscript spoolers, Bitmap spoolers, RIP modules, Page pairing and Bitmap assemblers. The Northwest Herald will be running these modules on two SunFire V240's for maximum performance and reliability. The Ultra Series FasTRAK Violet CTP platesetter has established itself as one of the fastest, most economical CTP systems in the newspaper business, capable of throughput speeds up to 180 plates per hour to meet the production deadlines in today's most demanding environments. These units, in conjunction with the TRAKmate 2 automatic plate loading system, have a capacity of accommodating up to 1000 plates on-line as they are needed, resulting in automatic, unattended plate production. MGS/3 OPI Print Manager, is a productivity tool offering a graphics database, OPI Print server, print spooler, e-mail notification, network routing, plus remote monitoring and administration capabilities using a standard HTML Web browser, which makes available the information that allows report-generation by a third party. The NewsColor proofing system allows press match color proofing on newsprint. Computer-to-Proof from NewsColor integrates with the alfaQuest PrintExpress to provide a RIP-Once-Output-Many (ROOM) proofing system for newspapers, magazines, inserts, etc. The advantage is to easily match proof output from HP 4000's to that of a particular press. Pictured from left to right: Nigel Kipping-CFO, Kevin Elder-VP of Production, Dave Ericson-District Sales Manager alfaQuest, John Rung-Group Publisher, Steve Sulouff-IT / New Media Director The Northwest Herald selected the alfaQuest solution over other competitive offerings for four reasons: 1) The simplicity, speed and proven track record of the Violet CTP FasTRAK line. 2) The speed, customizability and fail-over (back-up) offering of the PrintExpress workflow. 3) The power of a Unix based workflow. 4) The responsiveness of the alfaQuest staff. Kevin Elder, Vice President of Production, stated, "We first visited alfaQuest at NEXPO 2005 in Dallas. They spent the time with our group to familiarize us with the FasTRAK systems. There are very few moving parts to this simplistic device. Its straight path of travel (capstan imager) when compared to other offerings, including drum imagers, generated the immediate decision which led us down the alfaQuest road. We completed our due diligence by evaluating the competitive offerings. It all came down to the price/performance and simplicity that the FasTRAK had to offer. During CTP discussions it was clear we needed a complete page approval and delivery workflow system, and again, alfaQuest led the pack with their PrintExpress Consolidated Production Management workflow solution. We held numerous meetings prior to our demonstrations at their Rolling Meadows facility. Two key items that stood out were the speed the consolidated product has to offer, since there are no network transfers, and the stability of the system since it's a true client server Unix based system. The opportunity to acquire a virus free workflow system was intriguing, and to us, necessary. We supplied alfaQuest with a CD containing 72 of our nastiest four-color pages. The alfaQuest system had them RIPped and paired using just two RIP modules in just over four minutes. The software is network based, so all we had to do is buy an additional Sun V240 server to mirror the original production system. In addition to the PrintExpress workflow, alfaQuest offered us an upgrade to our existing NewsColor proofing system." The Northwest Herald is scheduling the PrintExpress rollout for May 2006, with CTP following in late September.

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