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Are High-End Ink Jet Printers Worth Your Money?

Our Test Procedure

In contrast to our earlier article on eight new inkjet printers , we've put more emphasis on the quality aspect here. An eight-ink printer has to come close to perfection, and testing has to be especially extensive on this point. However it's not the only parameter to be taken into account. Performance, noise level, options, and especially, cost per page are essential areas to consider when making your choice.

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 spent preparing 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 both in text and photo modes. All photos were printed on glossy A4 photo paper. They were then digitized for publication with this article using an Epson Perfection 3170 scanner at 600 dpi for photos and text and 2,400 dpi for details. Tests include:

  • Printing text containing fonts in 2, 10 and 72-point sizes in standard mode
  • Printing a photo of a seascape with very light colors
  • Printing a photo with heavy contrasts between very bright colors
  • Printing a photo with red-orange predominating
  • Printing a photo with blues predominating
  • Printing a black-and-white photo

Cost-of-Use Tests

The results we give for cost-of-use tests are only an indirect reflection of reality. Since the actual cost of operating a printer is impossible to determine exactly, due to the many possible ways that inkjet printers can used, we've opted for a relatively simple procedure that tests each printer under the same conditions and gives a good indication of relative cost of use, providing a basis for comparing models.

  • 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
  • Multiplication of the result by a coefficient that varies with the number of colors added to the four basic colors.

Cost calculations were then made using prices from a representative e-commerce site, using cartridges from the manufacturer and never third-party compatible cartridges.