Speed and quality print tests
I noticed that all the documents and photos I printed on the Photosmart Plus had a similar processing time of about seven seconds before the printing began unless the printer had to “prepare” itself. Then, generally, the processing time took as long as 50 seconds which considerably slows down the print speeds.
And even without the processing slow down, the print speeds were nowhere near the advertised speeds of 30 ppm in black and 29 ppm color in fast mode; however, the Photosmart Plus did manage to print 19 ppm in black and white fast mode which is faster than several of its peers. In everyday general mode, the Photosmart Plus printed an average of 13 ppm in black and 11 ppm in color with a first page out in 10 seconds and 15 seconds, respectively. These speeds were much closer to the advertised normal quality speed of 15 ppm in black and 11 ppm in color.
In fast mode, the Photosmart Plus printed an average of 18 ppm in black and 14 ppm in color with a first page out in 8 seconds and 12 seconds, respectively.
When it came to quality, I was pleasantly surprised by both the general everyday mode and the fast mode. When printing text documents in everyday mode, I felt the text was on the level of a laser quality printer; not so much with color but it was still good for a color inkjet document on copy paper.
I feel like I’ve said this a lot lately, but I was very excited about the fast mode text quality. The fast mode text print outs could have been standard print outs from a variety of inkjets I’ve reviewed; there were only minor differences between the Photosmart Plus general everyday mode text document and the fast mode text document. Again, the color wasn’t quite as good as the text in this category and generally I advise against printing color document in fast/draft modes unless printing a mock up or rough draft.
Moving on to the photo side, I thought print speeds were decent but I never got a 4×6 print out in 16 seconds. On average, it took about 30 seconds for a 4×6 image to print while an 8×10 took about a minute and a half to print. I felt like these print speeds were very comparable to other inkjets in this price range.
But, I did not feel like the photo quality was nearly as good as some of the Photosmart Plus’ peers, including other HP printers. The photos weren’t nearly as saturated as the ones you see from the Canon PIXMA MP640 (a recent review) or even the HP Officejet 6000. The contrast of the colors seemed off too, although I did feel like the images were as sharp as or sharper than the Pixma MP640 and Officejet 6000.
That’s not to say the photos were terrible and I’m sure if you had time to edit them you might be able to tweak these problems in Photoshop but in the automatic print mode, there were issues.
Ink control tests
In our tests, we exhaust (printing until the color runs out) a new set of cartridges; exhaustion meaning the printer will not print another “quality” document without a replacement. We print at a ratio of three pages of black and white text to one full page of color. We decided on the 3:1 ratio because we felt that the average user is printing more text than color.
The HP Photosmart Plus includes four individual HP 564 series ink cartridges: cyan, yellow, magenta, and black. HP does offer high yield cartridges in this series but the Plus comes with a set of standard capacity cartridges so that is why we ran the test with them.
At the ratio of 3:1 in HP’s General Everyday Printing mode, the Photosmart Plus printed 267 pages before the black ink cartridge expired (ran out of ink) followed closely by the magenta and yellow cartridges. The Photosmart Plus first threw up a low ink notice after 120 pages printed, followed by status reminders in the lower right hand corner of my screen. At 201 pages, the Photosmart Plus halted printing and threw up identical ink alert messages on the LCD and my monitor warning that cartridges would soon expire. After this original message I received several ink alerts – always halting the progress of my print job – about every five pages. While I appreciate the warning, I was a tad annoyed that the ink alerts completely stopped my job, especially since I got another 66 pages out before the tank actually expired.
The good thing is, unlike some of its competitors, HP allows the consumer to continue printing until they feel like the cartridge can no longer perform (print quality documents/photos). There is no error that blocks users from printing until a cartridge is replaced.
I did experience one paper jam during the ink control tests. It was relatively easy to correct once I diagnosed the problem thanks to the back entrance to the paper path on the Photosmart Plus.
The HP Photosmart Plus consumes a small amount of energy even when printing large documents or photos. On average the Photosmart Plus used about 20 W of energy when printing, but spiked as high as 23 W.
When scanning images or documents, the energy consumption spiked at 25 W but quickly fell into the 6 W range as the scan progressed.
In ready mode, the Plus used about 5 W of energy and in sleep mode – the TouchSmart screen is dark – the Photosmart Plus only draws about 3 W of energy.