Digital Photography Now Printer Reviews
3-part series: Photo ink-jets laid bare
Updated 19th February - 2002
Part 1: The truth about photo ink-jet running costs
For the record, the psc-950 - which is a mid-range performing HP ink-jet - completed the A4 test print in 265 seconds. We also ran the test on HP’s fastest Photosmart printer, the P1218 and the time reduced to 213 seconds.
We managed to print 41 perfect pages before the yellow component started to become unstable. From print 42 onwards the yellow would drift in and out, although not completely disappear for some time. Eventually the yellow stopped altogether but we were still able to continue printing.
No extended density photo ink option
Just two ink cartridges are used; one black and one colour. HP, unlike its rivals, does not use lower density ‘photo’ inks to supplement the usual standard density cyan, magenta and yellow inks. Close examination reveals a more coarse grain structure than some of its rivals. However, HP inks use a pigment base which is theoretically better for plain paper printing. We’ll be looking at image quality in a separate article.
HP ink cartridges aren’t just ink tanks; they include the thermal print head. HP’s argument is that you get a brand new print head each time you buy a new ink cartridge. It’s a policy shared by Lexmark with its Z-series printers that we have yet to test. The down side is that these cartridges are relatively expensive. HP’s black cartridge is £25, as is the Tri-Color cartridge, making a grand total of £50.
HP’s A4 Photo Plus paper costs £12.90 for 20 sheets, or 64.5p per sheet.
The ink used to print each test image page worked out at 72.4p, or almost exactly 1p per square inch .
The total cost (ink plus paper) per A4 page amounted to £1.37
No inks wasted inbetween prints
HP reminded us that its printers don’t re-charge the print head, wasting ink, periodically like some of its rivals, especially each time the printer is powered up.
Test results - printer by printer: