Standard Print Quality: Absorbency And Text Performance
Color reproduction is only one aspect of paper performance. The other major aspect is absorbency. The production of paper involves forming a fiber mat on a mesh screen and pressing it flat. High-quality inkjet paper must balance ink absorbency with a tendency to spread sideways. The easiest way to solve this problem is by producing very fine paper fibers. As the size of the fiber decreases, fewer fibers extend through the mat. This is why the text on one brand of paper can appear crisper than the text on another. Obviously, this is subjective, but we're using a high-powered microscope to show visual differences.
If you tend to print small fonts, you'll notice that each paper produces its own unique result. Brother's Multipurpose tends to produce fuzzy text because the paper is slightly more porous. Dynex and Epson seem to produce poor text because the first layer of fibers doesn't adequately absorb the ink pigments. Kodak shows a similar effect, but it's not as severe. HP's Multipurpose produces the crispest text, but ink still slightly seeps out from the font's edge.
Brother continues to produce fuzzy but uniform text, which is a result that Kodak closely mimics. HP's Multipurpose produces crisp text, but there are non-uniform aberrations throughout the letter.
When it comes to borders, HP's Bright White and Multipurpose produce the least color bleed between neighboring color patches. Notice that there is a slight tear in our Epson printing sample. This anomaly will occasionally turn up with paper. Sometimes paper arrives in the ream this way; sometimes it's the fault of the printer.
Duplex printing is an easy way to reduce paper consumption, but, if your paper tends to let ink bleed through a lot, printing on both sides of a page yields poor results. Ink soaks through the paper and over-saturation causes the paper to curl or buckle. When we examine the opposite side of our color border test, we notice that Brother, Dynex, and Kodak all tend to let ink bleed through to the other side. The Bright White paper from Epson and HP yield the least bleed-through, but recall that these have a heavier weight (more paper fibers). In comparison, HP's Multipurpose is only 20 lb. paper, but there is little ink penetration.