If you’ve ever walked down the printer aisle at a consumer electronics store, you’ve probably noticed that most of the printers offer the ability to print out samples. At the same time, they display specifications around speed (pages per minute or ppm) and resolution (dots per inch or dpi). You might ask--if dpi describes the true print quality of a printer, why do they go to all the trouble to run power to all the printers and keep them stocked with paper? It’s primarily because, for print quality, the specs don’t tell the whole story.
Larger organizations, of course, usually don’t shop for printers at retail, so there are other ways to get LaserJet print samples. The discussions on print quality with larger companies often centers on the technology involved and how that delivers on print quality claims consistently, page after page. This technology and spec centered approach makes sense as there are usually IT people involved in the evaluation process.
The discussion will often start with the fact that there is a tradeoff between high dpi and high speeds. This is because the higher the dpi, the greater the number of dots the printer has to lay down per square inch of paper—described very well in this print quality video. High dpi also adds to the amount of memory needed to store and print files. For network printers, high dpi also increases network traffic. In other words, higher dpi can have a downside without a real benefit to the naked eye.
To understand this, you must know that there are two different ways that printers tend to lay down toner (or ink). If you’ve ever changed out the cyan, magenta, yellow and black print cartridges in your printer, you likely realized that printers mix these primary colors to produce all the other colors. Essentially, printers lay down bunches of colored dots in close patterns (also called dithering), so that your eyes see mixed colors. Typically, printers are spec'd at being able to print millions of colors.
To achieve improved print quality, without having to increase dpi, we developed Image Resolution Enhancement technology or Image REt. This involves a way to lay down dots of various sizes on the page, called “digital half-toning” which delivers improved print quality without having to increase the dpi. In fact, if you’ve ever noticed the quality of colors within a National Geographic magazine, you might be surprised to find out that these are commercially printed at quite a low dpi (in the 300 range), but use half-toning to make the printed images look exceptional.
Such technological advances are why LaserJets deliver print quality that looks great, without having to increase the dpi--slowing down the printer and clogging the network with huge files. While some printers claim 1200X1200 dpi, LaserJets consistently win PQ comparisons with 600X600 dpi, because of investment in superior technology, which is evident in the following independent studies:
Everyone wants their text, graphics and images to look great when printed out. This is why we also developed HP ColorSphere toner that is essentially rounder than competing toner particles, making placement more consistent. This technology is a great example of how HP designs our devices and supplies together so the overall print system is optimized to deliver the best results. Beyond the personal appeal is the fact that sharper, vibrant documents are more persuasive.
When you apply the best-in-class technologies to print out your documents, it actually improves your image. Feel free to respond with any instances which documents helped you influence others . . .
I’ve written about a lot of subjects that might be considered pertinent to large enterprises over the past few months. This week I’m going to shift gears and talk a little about small and medium business customers (a.k.a SMBs). This week’s blog speaks directly to those SMBs that need printed marketing materials--flyers, brochures, etc.--to help sell their businesses, products, and services. While outsourcing has traditionally been a popular option for these types of marketing materials, many SMBs are now turning to a “do-it-yourself” model to stretch their marketing budgets. And “do it yourself” doesn’t mean you will have a “lemonade stand” or “garage sale” sign level of quality. What I am talking about is level of quality that is equal to what you would get from a commercial print shop.
Marketing can have a significant impact for many small businesses as most want to look as professional as possible (like the big guys) in order to generate revenue. However, budget constraints limit what SMBs can afford to outsource to design shops, commercial printers or agencies. Because of these challenges--more than 50% of small companies print either all or some of their marketing materials in-house (Internal Communications Research, Feb., ’05).
Hardware and software manufacturers have noticed this trend and now offer solutions specifically designed to allow SMBs to quickly and easily create marketing brochures, flyers and other collateral in house. This top trend was recently cited in a PC magazine article entitled “In-House Copy Shop.” To print these materials, printer manufacturers now offer high-quality color ink and laser printers at lower costs—by 2005, sub-$1000 color laser printers had reached mainstream status (InfoTrends, Feb, 2006).Today it is possible to find an entry level color laser around $299
On the software/services side, SMB’s can save money by using some of the free marketing resources now available on the internet. For example, HP hosts an in-house marketing portal for SMBs that offers how-to seminars and free templates to develop materials including brochures, business cards and customer logos. These resources are helpful for companies looking to create a whole new corporate identity or simply to produce a brochure to promote a particular product or service.
If re-branding is one of your Marketing strategies, you can use the business marketing identity kits as well as services from companies like LogoWorks and iStockphoto, found on the portal, to redesign fliers, business cards, newsletters and even PowerPoint templates—creating an attractive, unified look across all your marketing materials. It would then be important to leverage this look into other communications tools, like your website.
Or you might want to create a singular brochure, flyer, business card, calendar or other piece for which we offer templates. The HP in-house marketing portal also offers free seminars. You also might be interested in the related Small business marketing toolbox blog by John Jantsch, the Creator of Duct Tape Marketing.
Another thing to consider is how frequently your business might need changes or updates to your marketing materials. While companies often order large quantities of brochures, etc. in order to get price breaks, very often the underlying information changes before the inventory of printed materials runs out, making for wasted budget and paper. By printing materials in-house—you can print what you need, when you need it and even customize information for particular opportunities. This creates a level of empowerment to the SMB that previously has not existed.
The opportunity to apply color to your marketing materials should also not be overlooked as color documents tend to be more persuasive. The print quality of color laser, combined with glossy paper meant to replicate the look and feel of a commercially printed page, is creating some great in-house marketing alternatives for the SMB. This and other issues SMB marketing decision-makers might face are further discussed by Larry Trevarthen in “Marketing Your Business On a Dime”. Jim Lyons also has some interesting insights on “do-it-yourself marketing” in the second half of his blog article “Observations: Low-end Color Lasers—Build Them and They Will Come?”
With all these resources available, my question to you is—What’s keeping your business from producing marketing materials in-house? Feel free to “comment” on what you are doing to produce in-house marketing collateral and the issues and challenges you are facing . . .
Have you noticed all of these printer cartridge refiller businesses popping up in strip malls across the country? You know, those places where someone uses a syringe to re-fill an ink cartridge (almost sounds like an addiction) or where used toner cartridges are opened and colored plastic is poured in. Many people think they are saving a lot of money by buying remanufactured printer cartridges. However, there are costs that these users probably haven’t considered.
In a study by QualityLogic, remanufactured cartridges were shown to have significant reliability problems, canceling out initial cost savings to consumers. Approximately 70 percent of all inkjet and 80 percent of toner cartridges displayed problems from leaking cartridges, cross-contaminated colors and cartridges that printed no pages. Furthermore, 17 percent of all remanufactured inkjet cartridges failed prematurely. These are clear hard costs that outstrip any potential savings.
Put in another light, the cost of using remanufactured cartridges can be more than just the price of the cartridge. Our printed output represents the quality of our work and ideas. To have this output disparaged due having the colors look wrong is hardly worth the perceived cost savings.
Also, most people (myself included) are editing, thus printing, their highest profile documents on a deadline. You know, there’s a meeting where you have to sell something in and you want to present crisp color documents and a presentation. Just imagine the cost of losing a project/deal/promotion for the sake of trying to save a few bucks on a “remanufactured” printer cartridge.
HP Colorsphere toner cartridges and Vivera Ink cartridges have been specifically designed to give the optimum image quality from the first print to the last print. HP Sure Supply is a free tool that first alerts you as to when your toner or ink cartridge is running low. The hosted Sure Supply program then finds exactly what cartridge your printer needs, checks availability and sets you up to order online from your preferred retailer or directly from HP.
To actively explore how to compare printer cartridges, you’ll want to visit the related HP sites for toner or related ink issues. Another aspect to consider is that HP is a leader in print cartridge recycling. In fact, we recycled approximately 140 million pounds of hardware and print cartridges globally in 2005. Very often those “recycling” bins you see for remanufactured cartridges are actually just giving cartridges to companies so they can sell them back to you, at a greatly decreased level of quality.