Attractive Features: General-Purpose Inkjet Printers

HP Deskjet 960c

More expensive, but more attractive, the Deskjet 960c is proud to be able to spare users the trouble of having to tweak the driver to adjust the resolution to the paper. This is due to a sensor in the printer that is designed to analyze a number of points giving the paper type. The information is returned to the driver which then works in PhotoRet III for photo paper, 600 dpi for draft paper, etc. This function is plainly intended for beginners and those who hate the thought of having to open a settings window and options menus. More advanced users should have no need for it, unless they're not sure what sort of paper they're using. This would typically be the case if the paper is not HP and has a name that is not listed in the driver.

Beyond this, what we have is simply a faster Deskjet 932c, nothing more and nothing less.

The gain in speed is substantial, although color printing is still slow. This is especially noticeable in photo mode, which requires the PC and the driver to exchange a lot of information. The 932c already has 2 MB of internal memory, but the 960c has 8 MB as well as a RISC processor at 33 MHz. The result is equal print quality, but photos which come out twice (10 x 15) or three times (A4) faster.

The higher speed of the 960c also applies to the one it has replaced, the 959c. Gains in black and white and color are respectively 9% and 29%.

And now, to keep a clear mind, the 960c should be compared with the competition, either the Canon S630 or the Epson C80. And here, the worst that can be said is that the 960c is very slow.

We could console ourselves with the thought that the quality makes up for this, but this is only half true. While HP was once ahead in this field, this is not so much the case today. HP always used to be the champion in black and white text. But Canon has taken over now with its S600.

In photo mode, the differences are not so obvious either. HP always comes up against Epson here. Color prints are neck and neck, but in future there will be Canon to reckon with as it closes the gap.

All that remains is compound documents. And there yes, HP is still the uncontested leader.

But what a price!

As we saw with the Deskjet 932c, HP cartridges are incredibly pricey. This is because the manufacturer opted for integrated print-heads. The use profits from this, since there will be far fewer clogging and therefore less cleaning to do. Quality also goes up, and the claim is that prints will be as good at the end of the printer's life span as the day it was bought.

Still, these heads don't explain everything and we can only regret the HP pricing policy which, like Epson recently, gives manufacturers a reputation for making money off of the ink, and that at the expense of guileless customers who rarely consider this factor during purchase.

The cost at 3000 pages is of the order indicated in the tables above: $796. Now supposing we put it like this - for the same price, would you prefer one HP 960c and 3000 printed pages, or two S630s and 6000 pages?

In short, this printer is another one to be used sparingly. Otherwise your bank account could be the first victim.

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