HP used to take pleasure in trying to persuade reviewers to test rival products – particularly those from Epson – over prolonged periods, because they know the Epson mechanism has to stop periodically to purge ink from its system, which slows it and reduces its page yield.
Well, it works both ways, and HP’s new system now stops roughly every 30 pages to perform ‘maintenance’, purging its own system and recycling ink for around 30 seconds at a time. On longer print jobs, this obviously extends print times.
The printer driver helpfully shows you how much ink is left in your cartridges, though we printed 200 colour test prints in cyan, magenta and yellow and the driver claimed we had used no cyan ink. The software doesn’t show progress of the job, either, so you don’t know how many pages are left to print.
Print quality is well up to HP’s usual standards, with dense, black print and hardly any perceptible fringing. Colour graphics printed evenly with no noticeable banding, though saturation wasn’t complete in blocks of lighter colours. Six-colour photo prints were very sharp, with plenty of detail in darker areas and smooth colour flows in skies from mid-haven to horizon. Colour reproduction was pretty accurate, even without going through any colour matching.
It pays to shop around more for HP consumables than most. We managed to find A4 glossy photo paper at just 22p per sheet, which reduces the overall cost of photo printing to 40.5p for 30 per cent of an A4 sheet. Plain paper, black prints, even with the greater page yield of the high capacity (17ml) cartridge, come out at 3p per page, so HP claims of lower running costs aren’t born out by our tests.
It’s not easy to see where the advantages of SPT lie for the customer. While you can get a lot of pages from a single black cartridge, neither black nor colour prints are much cheaper than from previous HP models. The much hyped, 14 second print is a bit of a gimmick, as it’s restricted to A4 printing only, and it’s countered elsewhere by the printer having to pause for maintenance, during longer print jobs. Even so, this is a capable photo printer, which also handles plain paper documents well.