Computers: Laser versus inkjet: seconds out

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The Independent Online
THE difference in the printing process is also what affects the speed, writes William Gallagher. Here, laser printers win: you would have to try hard to find a laser printer that printed at less than 4 pages per minute (ppm). A typical inkjet will be rated at 1.7 to 2 pages per minute.

Be cynical if you are quoted a characters-per-second figure. Daisywheel and golf-ball printers, the ones like fast old typewriters, used to be rated this way because they produced a single letter or character at a time. Dot matrix printers hammer out fine lines of dots that, every 9 or 18 lines, make up letters and so could just about be described the same way.

A laser printer, however, will figure out the whole page in its memory before putting anything on the page and will then roll the lot out in one go. Inkjets are similar, in that they image the page in memory sometimes, but they roll out their pages more slowly and it looks like a line at a time is being produced. Forget trying to match the claimed speeds anyway. The speed rating is a little like a finger in the air, because the definition of what makes a page varies by manufacturer.

Even if all the companies were to reach agreement, their joint definition would probably be different to what you find when you come to run off that report. Plain text, where you have used one size and one typeface and no graphics or lines, will be fastest. Complex graphics or photographs will be far slower with any type of printer.

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