Evaluating Printers

The following are terms you will need to understand as you choose among various printers:

■ Resolution,or how many dots per inch it will put on the paper—The more dots, the closer to photo-realistic continuous tone. (However, the number of dots refers to inkjet and laser printers only, since thermal dye transfer printers use far fewer dots, but in such a way that they are much sharper.)

■ The number of color inks or dyes it uses—Generally speaking, the more colors, the better the print quality and the closer its appearance is to a traditional photo print.

■ Speed, or how many inches, pages, or prints it can output in a minute—Or, for slow printers, the measure is how many minutes per page.

■ Cost per page of consumables—This includes the inks, ribbons, and papers used to create the print.

■ Duty cycle, which is how many prints per month a device can output without straining or reducing its effective life—If you plan to do a high volume of prints on a regular basis, you'll want a printer with a high duty cycle.

Table 20-1 provides general guidelines on how the five main kinds of photo printers stack up.

However, please remember that individual models may fall outside these typical parameters.

Table 20-1 Comparing Photo Printers

Resolution

# of Colors

Speed

Cost per page

Duty Cycle

Dual-Purpose Inkjet

720 x 720

4

2-8 minutes per page

81.50

500

Photo Inkjet

4800 x 4800

4-8

1-3 minutes per page

81.25

1,200

Color Laser

1200 x 1200

4

3-12 ppm

80.15

5,000

Dye Sub

300 x 300

3-4

2-4 minutes per page

82.50

1,000

Phase Change

600 x 600

4

12-24 ppm

80.15

5,000

ppm stands for pages per minute.

Cost per page is an approximation, based on an average 8 1/2"x11" photo.

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