Put a little colour into your life without breaking the bank

Hardware

Rapid advances in inkjet technology have made colour printing affordable both for the business and home user. PC Magazine has tested seven of the leading models to see which of them produced the best results.

Just as black and white televisions and computer monitors are a thing of the past, so soon will black and white printers be. In fact, even by computer-industry standards, where new technology is introduced at an ever-alarming rate, colour printer technology has been travelling at light speed.

There's no better example of this than colour inkjet technology, where not only has the technology increased dramatically in the past year but, unusually, the prices have been dropping at the same rate. It is astonishing to think that colour printing can now be yours from around pounds 105.

Colour has been the buzzword for technology in 1997. If you have a digital camera or scanner that provides low-cost colour input devices, then you need a low-cost colour printer to compliment this and give you good quality output.

Inkjet printers used to be the poor relation of the printer industry. They were slower than their laser printer cousins and their only plus point was price. However, Hewlett-Packard was the first manufacturer radically to alter this image with its DeskJet 850 series - the first inkjet touted as giving output described as "near-photogenic" in 1995. Since then the technology has gone from strength to strength. The basics of inkjet printing - spraying tiny drops of ink on to the paper - is the same at it always was, but different manufacturers have made great improvements in the shape of the ink nozzles, the size and number of drops and the way the ink is heated. These innovations have noticeably improved output quality.

Most inkjet printers accept plain photocopier paper and a variety of film, card, label and other stock of many different sizes. All manufacturers stress that to get the best possible results it is advisable to use glossy finish paper, but an A4 sheet of glossy paper can set you back anywhere from 80p to pounds 1.80 per sheet. So, unless you are doing special prints you will probably be using plain paper. When choosing a printer it is worth investigating its output and quality on both plain and glossy paper.

Printer manufacturers have been quick to latch on to this need for low- cost, high-quality colour printing and four main manufacturers dominate the market - Canon, Epson, Lexmark and Hewlett-Packard. However, not only are there four manufacturers to choose from, but also they do multiple models. For example, in the December edition of PC Magazine, there were three printers from three of these companies and four from Epson. To determine an Editor's Choice, each of the printers were put through vigorous testing in PC Magazine's performance labs and then the output was analysed by a judging panel.

All the printers reviewed were four- and six-colour ink models and could take a variety of paper types. While none of them could be considered a poor choice there was one clear winner; the Epson Stylus Colour 600. Its printing quality is only slightly behind its big brother, the Epson Stylus Photo, which is the leader for outright quality, but its price tag of pounds 242 is over pounds 120 cheaper.

The Stylus 600 was also one of the fastest printers in the review, making it suitable for a business that might want to print mixed text and graphics documents as well as for home use.

Nicola Lynch

PC Magazine

http://www.pcmag.co.uk.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Arts and Entertainment
Ben Affleck as Nick Dunne, seated next to a picture of his missing wife Amy, played by Rosamund Pike

film
Arts and Entertainment
Rachel, Chandler and Ross try to get Ross's sofa up the stairs in the famous 'Pivot!' scene

Friends 20th anniversary
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Lena Dunham

books
Arts and Entertainment
A bit rich: Maggie Smith in Downton Abbey

There’s revolution in the air, but one lady’s not for turning

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Chloe-Jasmine Whicello impressed the judges and the audience at Wembley Arena with a sultry performance
TVReview: Who'd have known Simon was such a Roger Rabbit fan?
Arts and Entertainment
Nick Frost will star in the Doctor Who 2014 Christmas special

TV
Arts and Entertainment
A spell in the sun: Emma Stone and Colin Firth star in ‘Magic in the Moonlight’
filmReview: Magic In The Moonlight
Arts and Entertainment
Friends is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year
TV
Arts and Entertainment
Ben Whishaw is replacing Colin Firth as the voice of Paddington Bear

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Actor and director Zach Braff

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Maisie Williams plays 'bad ass' Arya Stark in Game of Thrones

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Liam Neeson said he wouldn't

TV
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Meera Syal was a member of the team that created Goodness Gracious Me

TV
Arts and Entertainment
The former Doctor Who actor is to play a vicar is search of a wife

film
Arts and Entertainment

music
Arts and Entertainment
Pointless host Alexander Armstrong will voice Danger Mouse on CBBC

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Pharrell dismissed the controversy surrounding

music
Arts and Entertainment
Jack Huston is the new Ben-Hur

film
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Cara Delevingne modelling

film
Arts and Entertainment
Emma Thompson and Bryn Terfel are bringing Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street to the London Coliseum

theatre
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Secret politics of the weekly shop

    The politics of the weekly shop

    New app reveals political leanings of food companies
    Beam me up, Scottie!

    Beam me up, Scottie!

    Celebrity Trekkies from Alex Salmond to Barack Obama
    Beware Wet Paint: The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition

    Beware Wet Paint

    The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition
    Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

    Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

    Can 'The Endless River' carry on the tradition?
    Sanctuary for the suicidal

    Sanctuary for the suicidal

    One mother's story of how London charity Maytree helped her son with his depression
    A roller-coaster tale from the 'voice of a generation'

    Not That Kind of Girl:

    A roller-coaster tale from 'voice of a generation' Lena Dunham
    London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice. In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence

    London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice

    In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence
    Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with Malcolm McLaren

    Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with McLaren

    Designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
    Jourdan Dunn: Model mother

    Model mother

    Jordan Dunn became one of the best-paid models in the world
    Apple still coolest brand – despite U2 PR disaster

    Apple still the coolest brand

    Despite PR disaster of free U2 album
    Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

    Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

    Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
    Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

    Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

    The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
    The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

    Scrambled eggs and LSD

    Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
    'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

    'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

    Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
    Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

    New leading ladies of dance fight back

    How female vocalists are now writing their own hits