In both cases, the quality of the ink plays an important part. Its fluidity or viscosity, its ability to vaporize, its reaction to heat and its pigmentation comprise some of the many factors that influence the shape, size and regularity of the droplets, as well as the intensity of the colors. This is why prints from so-called compatible inks sometimes give results of lower quality than original inks.
Also, in both cases the quality of the ink is decisive because the right balance between its fluidity and its ability to vaporize ensures that the ink is expelled properly, without its flowing back into the ink feed chamber.
The tests were carried out on a Dell computer: a Dimension 8100 with the following main features:
- Windows XP Professional Version 2002
- Intel Pentium 4 at 1500 MHz
- 256 MB RAM
We tested all the printers with the following operating systems: Windows 98SE / Millennium / 2000 and XP. If no mention is made of this in a printer test, it means the printer works perfectly fine with all the systems. For XP there are three possible scenarios. First, the printer is automatically recognized and doesn't need a driver, which we indicate in the results. In the other two scenarios, either the XP drivers are supplied with the printer (indicated on the packaging) or else they have to be downloaded from the manufacturer's site. We can't say for certain which situation you will encounter because the manufacturers are revising their packaging.
All the printers tested use USB, and some of them also use parallel ports - this is mentioned in the summary table.
Three major criteria were used to test the printers.
1 - Print Quality
All claim to be appropriate for general-purpose use. They were therefore tested by printing different types of documents in an office context and in photo mode.
- Text of different fonts and sizes
- Compound documents (graphics + black text + color text)
- Web pages
Tests were done successively in draft mode and default mode, with some of them repeated at maximum quality to find out what the printers are truly capable of.
Aspects that were assessed in the resulting documents include:
- Definition level and smoothness of characters
- Depth and brightness of ink
- Faithfulness of colors in diagrams
- Extent of detail in images
- Precision of ink droplet deposit
- 10 x 15 cm and A4 high resolution digital photos printed in black & white and color on 80g/m² paper, with the maximum resolution possible for the type of paper.
- 10 x 15 cm and A4 high resolution digital photos printed in black & white and color on photo paper recommended by the manufacturer, with the highest resolution possible for the type of paper.
- Color chart prints to assess how well the colors are rendered.