Attractive Features: General-Purpose Inkjet Printers

Conclusion, Continued

The second group is HP and Lexmark. Their printer cartridges have integrated heads. These can be dirty or damaged, but it's no problem, all you have to do is change the cartridge, and the system is as good as new. This means that print quality is identical from start to end of the printer's lifetime. Unfortunately, this is reflected in the cartridge price, meaning that costs per page for these devices are often much higher than for printers whose cartridges don't have integrated heads. Behold the estimates at 3000 pages: in the end, an S500 works out to be half the price of an HP or Lexmark. So this quality insurance comes at a price that some will find too heavy. After all, you can always decide it's better to buy two S630s than one Z53, or one Deskjet 940c. However, there are two types of user who will be drawn to these printers precisely by this argument: those who use them infrequently and those who use them a lot. The former will be ensured of an undamaged device even if they print very little, and the latter will be pleased that their printer does not wear out as it churns out the pages. Incidentally, it may not be a good idea to buy this sort of printer and opt for compatible cartridges. Compatibles are often empty cartridges bought back at bargain price by big stores or specialist agents and refilled. This means that the heads, which are designed to be used only once, will be used at least twice or more depending on how often the cartridges are recycled.

Besides this, and this is not due to their own technology, the printers in this group are all automatically recognized and installed by Windows XP. You can of course install the drivers provided or download recent versions. Still, the Windows system is clear and has the advantage of reducing the number of installations or settings. This could be a plus for inexperienced users - all they'd have to do is just plug in the printer and, without having to validate anything at all, a message pops up in 15 seconds saying that the printer is now ready for use. And what's more, it works!

If we were to praise specific models, they would be:

  • Canon S500. This is certainly the best quality / price / speed ratio in the market. Especially notable are its text print quality, nearly as good as laser, moderate cartridge price, cost per page up to 4 times less than its rivals and its improved ink quality with better pigments than the 2000 versions. There is a distinct improvement in its photo quality in relation to the BJC 6300 and co. Results are much brighter and more detailed.
  • Epson C80. Its cost per page is exorbitant, and the argument for separate cartridges is just a marketing ploy, but it is the only color inkjet device to print fast in both black and white and color. When printing text plus illustrations, it rated 4 ppm, which is over four times faster than the Z53.
  • Deskjet 980cxi. This is the only device for duplex printing using a module plugged in to the back of the machine. Another good feature is its paper analysis sensor and automatic resolution adjustment. This function will be of great use for less-experienced users or if you use non-HP paper.
  • Lexmark Z43. The recent price drop did it a lot of good. In general, it prints well, provided you use both the standard and six-color cartridges.