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Print speeds on large format printers are never that good on small paper sizes and the DesignJet 90r took nearly four and a half minutes to print our five page text document and over two and a half to complete our 15 x 10cm photo print. Even when printing larger pages, though, when it should come into its own, it took 5:15 for an A3 page and just under eight minutes for an A3+ one. If you’re using the printer commercially for multiple prints, these times could have a direct effect on the number of pages you can charge for in a day. Compare them with the speeds from the Canon i9950 and the Epson Pro 4800, both reviewed recently.
Photo quality images are sharp and well detailed and the use of the two light inks, cyan and magenta, produces good toning and flesh tints. Black print on plain paper is not as dense as we would have liked – more of a dark grey – and there’s noticeable ink spatter around text characters.
The feed mechanism is quite noisy, much louder than when the DesignJet 90r is printing – we measured it at 53dBA printing, with peaks of 67dBA when feeding paper. It’s also quite vigorous; you really do need to use the end stop on the paper out tray, if you don’t want all your pages ending on the floor.
HP couldn’t supply us with figures for running costs, sighting the number of different media and print types (vector, bitmap graphic, photo) the printer could produce. With the large capacity of the ink cartridges, we couldn’t run them to exhaustion, either. There is an HP profit calculator here, but this deals only with roll paper and gives results in dollars or euros. Approximate costs come out at £1.65 for an A3 photo print, but we’re suspicious of the calculator, as there’s no indication if ink and print head costs are included. This level of support on TCO is unsatisfactory. Without the cost for a set page size at specified cover, it’s very difficult to compare costs between the DesignJet 90 and LF printers from other manufacturers.
This is a reasonably convenient printer to use and can handle a wide range of different sizes and qualities of paper, up to A2+. It’s not that quick though and its status display could be more helpful. Colour print quality is good, though black could be blacker and there’s some spatter. Running costs are largely unknown, because obtaining data on this printer from hp proved to be a bit like trying to nail jelly to the wall.