In Living Color: 8 New Inkjet Printers Put to the Test

Test Procedure

The tests focused on three main considerations: quality, speed, and cost of use. However, despite what you might expect, the quality tests are not the most significant deciding factor. This is because the progress made by all the manufacturers has tended to level off quality discrepancies, and in the end little difference is visible from one model to another. For this reason, we won't spend a lot of time on the subject. On the other hand, the disparities in printing speed are particularly noticeable, whether in text, office, or photo mode. The same is true for the cost of use, which takes on such importance that the purchase price of the printer becomes more or less insignificant.

Performance Tests

All time measurements are made from the moment the printer's software driver is activated, not when the print job is launched. We don't take the time for preparation of the document into account, since it varies from one PC to another. The performance tests are as follows:

  • Time for printing a 10-page text in draft, standard, and high-quality modes.
  • Time for printing a document combining text, images, and graphs in standard mode, in color and grayscale.
  • Time for printing an A4 color photo in photo mode at maximum resolution.

Quality Tests

Since inkjet printers are multi-use, we conducted quality tests in text and photo modes. All photos were printed on glossy A4 photo paper. The specific tests are:

  • Printing text containing fonts from 2-point to 72-point in standard mode.
  • Printing a document containing five color bands covering the color spectrum and grayscale, in photo mode.
  • Printing a photo of a seascape with very light colors.
  • Printing a photo with heavy contrasts between very bright colors.

Cost-of-Use Tests

The actual cost of operating a printer is impossible to determine exactly, due to the many possible ways that inkjet printers can used. So, we've opted for a relatively simple common procedure that tests each printer under the same conditions, giving a good indication of relative cost of use, and making it possible to compare models. Remember that our results are only an approximate reflection of the real cost of operating each printer.

  • Life span of the black cartridge alone, printing 25% black documents.
  • Life span of the color and photo cartridges, printing an A4 document containing 25% black, 25% cyan, 25% magenta, and 25% yellow

Calculations of cost are then made using the price (suggested retail price) of original manufacturer cartridges, not third-party compatible inks.