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Printer Hardware

Tom's Hardware Benchmarks Inkjet Printer Paper 160

Posted by timothy
from the this-time-a-jump-rope-can-be-hi-fi dept.
An anonymous reader writes "We all know that the specs of your inkjet printer, driver settings, and ink cartridges can make a big difference in the quality of your prints. But the cheapest and simplest aspect of printing can also have a big impact on the final quality: the paper. This short article is an interesting read, the author actually found ways to 'benchmark' inkjet printer paper."
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Tom's Hardware Benchmarks Inkjet Printer Paper

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  • by GreatBunzinni (642500) on Thursday May 26, 2011 @05:51PM (#36256700)

    A benchmark is a fancy word to describe a process where a set of items are evaluated objectively based on pre-defined parameters and following a standardized set of procedures. To put it shortly, benchmarking is a process to determine the best option.

    Knowing this, why is it so odd that someone found a way to test paper and determine what's best for a given application? Does timothy actually believe that only computer parts can be evaluated by potential buyers?

  • by hellkyng (1920978) on Thursday May 26, 2011 @05:57PM (#36256770)

    All I really want to know is if it can print Crysis 2?!?!

  • Inkjets went out with the Turbo switch on the IBM PC-RT.

    If you want clean results, get a shark with a fricken' laser-printer on its head.

    • Inkjets went out with the Turbo switch on the IBM PC-RT.

      I am missing the joke here; IBM PC-RT never had a turbo button. But six quadzillion x86 PC clones (and their 286/386/486 children) all had it, and I loved it (if only for the silliness that it was.)

  • by Bing Tsher E (943915) on Thursday May 26, 2011 @06:17PM (#36256952) Journal

    But the cheapest and simplest aspect of printing can also have a big impact on the final quality: the paper

    The biggest expense is the most avoidable. The ink. Don't buy an overpriced spray-and-pray blotter printer. Get a real laser printer. I bought mine at a University Surplus auction for $10. Toner for it was expensive, I paid $90 for a cartridge. But that's enough toner to print on several cases of paper.

    The ink sellers will love it if you keep on using their expensive ink in your spray-printer, though.

    • by rsborg (111459)

      But the cheapest and simplest aspect of printing can also have a big impact on the final quality: the paper

      The biggest expense is the most avoidable. The ink. Don't buy an overpriced spray-and-pray blotter printer. Get a real laser printer. I bought mine at a University Surplus auction for $10. Toner for it was expensive, I paid $90 for a cartridge. But that's enough toner to print on several cases of paper.

      The ink sellers will love it if you keep on using their expensive ink in your spray-printer, though.

      Exactly. I bought my Mac-compatible laser printer new for $135 last year (newegg offer). There are some below the $100 mark. I have an old PC-only laser printer from years ago that still works and hasn't gone through the OEM toner package after 1000+ pages. Most toner packages are generic now, you can get a knockoff for $30 and the real thing for 2x.

      You don't need to get lucky to get a cheap, decent, long-lasting printer... they just don't do color (unless you pay much more).

    • It's not /really/ the ink vendors, either. When you buy official "ink", what you're really buying is a junk of hardware with a few mils of ink in it. If you want a cheap inkjet, get a continuous flow system [wikipedia.org]. You can buy ink in volume, and you don't have to pay the extortionate amounts for the redundant hardware they sell you with each refill.

    • by Trufagus (1803250)

      Yes, the biggest expense is the ink, but getting a "real laser printer" is NOT the solution.

      We've reached the point where the price you have to pay for re-fills, whether for laser printers or ink-jets, has nothing to do with the actual cost or with the efficiency of the print system. It is purely a question of what the seller can get away with.

      Here is a review of a modern laser printer that is not recommended due to "horrendous running costs".
      http://www.trustedreviews.com/HP-LaserJet-Pro-CP1025-Color_Print [trustedreviews.com]

      • by tlhIngan (30335)

        Here is a review of a modern laser printer that is not recommended due to "horrendous running costs".
        http://www.trustedreviews.com/HP-LaserJet-Pro-CP1025-Color_Printer_review [trustedreviews.com]

        Yeah, it's a color. Most color lasers have horrible toner costs - replacing an entire set of 4 can often run easily $600+.

        But a cheap laser printer that only does black and white can be had very cheaply, and for most of them, even the toner cartridges tend to last at least 1000 pages on the one packed in. 2500 seems to be around the st

    • Don't buy an overpriced spray-and-pray blotter printer. Get a real laser printer.

      It is indeed possible to buy a color laser for only $229.99 new [newegg.com] (or $309.99 [newegg.com] if you want reasonably priced consumables), but the colors are not as brilliant as an inkjet's. The brilliancy of color laser tonor works for almost all applications, but there are some applications where you want the extra oomph of brilliancy from an inkjet.

      Dye sublimation is almost as brilliant as inkjet and of course much better resolution, but is e [eri-iowa.com]

      • That's a medical image reproduction device. I don't know if there are any cheap 8.5x11 ones out there, but anything certified for clinical use will be hideously expensive.
      • I still don't know why dye sub hasn't caught on enough for mass production after 20 years for 8.5"x11"

        Because it's cheaper to have photos printed out at a store (e.g. CVS, Walgreens, etc) than buy the dye sub printer and the paper that goes with it.

    • If you're printing quality photos using the manufacturer's best paper, the cost of the paper can easily exceed the cost of the ink.
    • I don't think you can buy a laser printer that's as good as inkjet printers at printing colour photos... and is cheap enough to buy for sporadic home use.

      I'd be happy if you tell me I'm wrong. Have I've just been sucked in by marketing?

      Good to see that someone has made a benchmark test like this. It'd be interesting to see the results of testing the differences between printers too.

    • by AmiMoJo (196126)

      My friends keep buying inkjets because they want to print photos, and I keep telling them that it is cheaper and easier to just order the prints online or at the local print shop. You can get most of your prints for free by using all the introductory offers (hint: you can even re-use them by having someone else sign up with a new account).

      I picked up a brand new colour Ricoh laser for £50 (with £20 email-in rebate) from Oyyy. New toners are more than the printer but the ones it comes

    • by Patch86 (1465427)

      My Kodak inkjet MFU (with Wifi) was about £75. Equivalent colour laser MFU- about £300. Cartridge for my inkjet- £10 (last about 3 months each, separate carts for colour and B&W). Cost of colour toner- about £110. Lets pretend the toner cartridge will last 2 years (just a guess- I don't own one for comparative purposes, so it's tough to know how quickly my current use would burn through it).

      That means the laser printer is only £25 cheaper in ink/toner every year, which mean

  • Sure, I care about contrast and such when printing on regular paper so that I can see the lines and words and simple pictures or diagrams that I'm printing. But I don't and never will care about anything beyond mediocre color accuracy if I'm printing on plain paper. Even if the color is 100% accurate, anything beyond text and line art, it will still look like complete crap...it's regular paper!

    If I want a pretty prints that I give even the slightest care about, I'll use photo paper (matte or gloss).

    • by hjf (703092)

      "Regular" coated paper, which is usually 108gr (vs 75-90gr), for inkjet it's much, much better than regular paper. It's whiter, feels softer, and doesn't suck ink like regular paper. You can print photos on it and they will look pretty good (not just a brown smudge). Ink will not go through so you can print both sides (but it usually is coated in only one side).

      A pack of 100 sheets costs like $5. It's expensive, but if you need to print a nice report and don't have a color laser, it will give great results.

  • by PCM2 (4486) on Thursday May 26, 2011 @08:07PM (#36258128) Homepage

    I have a Brother MFC-6490CW inkjet printer. At the time I bought it, it was on sale and Amazon.com shipped it to my front door for $190, total.

    I chose this particular printer largely because of a novelty: It is a multi-function machine that can both scan and print at sizes up to 11x17" (aka Tabloid or Ledger, the ISO equivalent being A3). You won't find any laser printers that can do that for less than a couple thousand dollars.

    My printing needs are best described as "light." I realized that 90 percent of what I print out I print for my own use. I carry it around for however long I need it, probably a few days, and then it ends up in the recycle bin. I never print photos on photo paper, because as many people have pointed out, that's a waste of ink (and hence money). I do often print things with photographs in them, though (Web pages, etc.) so I like those printouts to be in color. I also like my text to be in color -- it makes it easier to see things like hyperlinks, highlights, annotations, etc. But I really don't care if any of it is "presentation quality," because I'm likely to be the only one who sees it.

    The printer came with a set of high-capacity ink cartridges. That set lasted me, I would guess, about a year and a half. Since then I've bought off-brand, generic cartridges, and I've been mostly happy with them. The genuine Brother black ink is more water-resistant than the generic ink, but for my purposes, it mostly serves.

    I don't remember what I paid for them, but checking Amazon right now, I can order a set of four high-capacity black cartridges, plus two sets of all three colors, for $10.48. They get cheaper if you buy them in bulk.

    So all in all, I'd say I don't feel ripped off. I get to scan big things from time to time and print them out on big paper in color from time to time, and the rest of the time I have an adequate ink jet office machine that costs me less per year than I'd usually spend on lunch.

    • by jrumney (197329)

      Are the cartridges region coded? After moving from Europe to Asia, I've discovered I can no longer buy cartridges for my printer, and the ones that are locally available, which differ in model number by one digit but are physically identical refuse to work unless I swap the chips from my old cartridges (which also require resetting due to the counter in them, supposedly to protect the printer from damage caused by running the cartridge completely dry, but we all know the real reason is to prevent them from

      • by dkf (304284)

        Are the cartridges region coded?

        It massively varies by manufacturer and maybe also by printer model. I've got a Canon inkjet, and its ink cartridges just contain ink; each cartridge is also monochromatic, so they can be replaced on their own schedule. It cost a bit more than the equivalent HP at the time (quite a few years ago, to be fair) but it has worked out much cheaper overall since we can easily use cheap third-party replacement inks. Theoretically the expensive inks are better, but not enough to justify the extra cost. (Using bette

    • I have to agree. It only works for me because I print at home no more than couple times a year, so an ink cartridge set lasts for about 2 years before they dry up, and then it's only $10 to replace them.

  • by p51d007 (656414) on Thursday May 26, 2011 @09:54PM (#36258832)
    I've worked on photocopiers, printers & wide format units for over 30 years. I carry a paper sample card with me that shows the color red, in different shades. Some glossy, some matte finish, some bright, some dark. When I get an end user that says "the colors don't look right", after I determine there isn't anything wrong with the machine, the driver, or how it is set up, I check their paper. Usually they will "cheap out" on inexpensive big box paper, and less than 92 bright. I whip out my sample card that shows all the colors through the front and ask them which one is red. They most likely pick one of the middle red colors, which is a bright glossy red. I then open it up, and show them that the red color they see in different brightness levels or hues, is the EXACT SAME SHADE of red, but printed on different paper stocks. Most of the time they get it, and once I show them how to set different driver profiles for each type of paper, I never hear about it again.
  • I did this long ago, shortly after the HP500 came out and noticed that results were pretty varied in my office. We went to a large office supply store and bought a ream of every type of paper they had. Went back to the office and ran some comparison tests. We found that the difference in paper was significant and the most expensive paper was not the best. And the recycled paper was worse than the cheaper non-recycled paper. We also found that the side that we printed on made a big difference, one side was d
  • This problem has been solved long ago: get a color calibrator [amazon.com] and generate profiles for each of you printer + ink set + paper combination. Then you'll get reliable prints. Now let's get onto the real problem: why did my printer stop working with Ubuntu 11.04 [ubuntuforums.org] ?
  • This isn't new, but I'm glad they've done this. People do this all day long where I work. They "benchmarked" all of our paper, inks, etc. to industry standards. After all, we run a professional high volume printing shop as part of what we do. This just brought some of the tools we use down to the consumer level and wrote it up for the casual user to understand and limited the paper significantly. The actual range of paper is nearly as great as the range of colors available, not to mention other printabl

  • If you're doing fine art inkjet prints on the higher end printers, you likely aren't using the papers referenced in the article :) There are, however, several good sites that collect hard data on the various paper options out there:

  • I had a chance for a week to work with a color scientist there. We used to create an ICC profiles for the printer by printing out a color pattern without using any color profiles or modifications to the output, then capture that color information using a spectrometer.

    I found that I could create some pretty amazing prints when the printer was properly calibrated to the paper (even really cheap printers - sub $100 models) you were using, but that it took a $12,000 piece of hardware to do it (I which I could r

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