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Color printing: Choosing the right printer

How to buy and manage color printing solutions

How do you define print quality? The three most important factors that influence print quality are:

DPI : Dots per inch has been the traditional measurement and indicator of a printer's output quality. Color printing, however, changes the rules a bit by working on a sub-DPI scale. Inkjets can fit more colors inside a dot than can color LaserJet printers.

Number of colors per dot : The modern inkjet produces a droplet of ink so small (4 to 5 picoliters) that over 40 can fit inside a single dot of the DPI measurement. Mixing colors inside each dot using the PhotoREt technology greatly enhances the range of colors available inside a single dot, giving truly photographic results. Surprisingly, printers with a lower DPI rating may produce higher image quality output than printers with a higher DPI rating because of the color droplet control available.

Dot growth : Media use also affects image quality, and inkjet printer's image quality may be more affected by media than a LaserJet printer. This is due to wicking, or dot growth, as ink spreads when absorbed by paper. Inkjet printers reduce the amount of ink delivered when printing on plain paper because the paper fibers spread the ink so much. Special media for inkjet printers reduces the absorption rate of the ink to better control wicking. LaserJet printers use micro fine plastic spherical particles that adhere to the paper surface and don't spread like ink does.

 Podcast: HP: How to choose the right color printer

Length: 13 minutes
Size: 12 MB

Pages per minute (ppm) guides have been the rule for printer performance, but more details are needed today. Why? The PPM figure only takes into account the speed of the print engine and how many pages it can produce if all else is perfect. All else is rarely perfect. You should consider the following when evaluating a printer's overall performance:

Pages per minute : The number of pages printed per minute is dependent mainly on engine speed but also affected by document complexity, spooling time, contention, transmission speed, language processing, and paper handling. Each of these factors affect overall print job time.

Throughput : Whereas the print engine speed represents the printer's performance potential, output after all the aforementioned variables is the "throughput speed." This number will be the most accurate performance predictor for your color printing projects.

Other variables : Add the variables listed above, and then add such details as computer speed, paper handling, network transport options, print queue capacity, and even network bandwidth restrictions to get a true printer performance rating. Also consider print management software to centrally configure drivers that allow or disallow color printing on any given printer by any specific user in your organization.

 

 Podcast: HP Total Print Management

Length: 7 minutes
Size: 6.4 MB

 Podcast: Red, white and blue: Three colorful companies
Hear how Red Hat, the Chicago White Sox and Jet Blue used technology in innovative ways. We think you'll be surprised by what you learn!

Length: 7.2 minutes
Size: 7 MB

 Podcast: Colorful printers with colorful personalities
In this light-hearted IT fairy tale, you'll discover how a printer upgrade at a small media company worked magic. :-)

Length: 8 minutes
Size: 7.4 MB

This was last updated in August 2009

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