*NEWS*BUSS INKJET TAKES ON COLOR LASERS

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*NEWS*BUSS INKJET TAKES ON COLOR LASERS

 user 2005-08-04 at 11:41:00 am Views: 46
  • #12174
    The Business Inkjet Takes on Color Lasers
    Inkjet printers are notorious for high ink costs, but HP continues to tout inkjets as a low-cost choice for businesses
     
    With some color laser printers now selling for as little as $299, it’s surprising that a small business or home user would even consider an inkjet printer. And conventional wisdom says laser printers are the business tool of choice because they tend to be faster, offer more paper handling options, and print razor-sharp text. But sub-$1000 color lasers for the small office or home haven’t heeded conventional wisdom, delivering very mixed results in our tests.Can inkjet printers be truly viable in an office environment? Hewlett-Packard evidently thinks some businesses can be swayed to join the inkjet camp. Its new $199 Officejet Pro K550 is an inkjet printer–though notice that the word “inkjet” isn’t part of the name, as it is in previous Business Inkjet models.
    The new Officejet has a number of specs that challenge the dominance of laser printer technology for small workgroups. The most important preconception HP must dismiss is that the cost per page with laser toner cartridges is less than that of ink cartridges. Nils Miller, ink/media senior scientist at HP, says that the K550′s ink costs are 30 percent cheaper than the toner costs of a personal color laser in the same class (under-$500 printers). If you use high-yield cartridges, HP says ink costs per page could be as low as 1.5 cents for text and 7.7 cents for color and black. These estimates are based on 20 percent coverage: 5 percent for each color plus black.
    How well the K550 will perform in our page-yield testing remains to be seen, though we were impressed with the company’s earlier Business Inkjet 2300. That printer turned in the lowest total cost per page–7.7 cents–of the 12 inkjets we put through the same testing for our October 2004 spotlight. Our test, however, is not comparable to HP’s estimates; the percentage of ink coverage was not measured on our test document.
    Print Speed Claims <Claims for print speeds on sub-$1000 color lasers are all over the map, from 3 ppm to 21.1 ppm on text documents, and from 1.1 ppm to 6.1 ppm for color graphics. Purportedly, HP’s K550 can keep up with the fastest of these laser models, printing text at 37 ppm and color pages at 35 ppm–but in draft mode. To deliver laser quality, as defined by HP, the K550 slows down to 12 ppm for text and 10 ppm for color pages. But if these specs are in the ballpark, they’re not shabby.
    And if the K550 prints text that nears laser quality at 12 ppm, it could be a contender against low-cost lasers. Of the small-office color lasers, the only model that’s produced outstanding text quality in our tests was the $449 DellLaserPrinter3000cn, which did so at a rapid 17.9 ppm.
    If HP’s K550 delivers something akin to laser-quality text at 1.5 cents per page, it could be worth considering over a low-cost color laser. Print quality for color graphics on plain paper has been mixed from both inkjet and color laser printers in our tests. But if your business needs occasional photo-quality prints on glossy paper, your choice is a no-brainer: Only inkjet printers excel at that.