HP rates the Deskjet 1050A at 5.5ppm in black and 4.0ppm in colour, the same speeds as for the HP Deskjet 3050A. We saw slightly faster real-world times than from the 3000 series machine, with 5.7ppm on our 5-page black text print, rising to 6.5ppm for the 20-page document. The five-page black text and colour graphics print took 2:17, a speed of 2.2ppm.
The black speed is very reasonable, particularly for an entry-level all-in-one, though the colour speed is a bit slow. You do have to bear in mind the asking price of the machine, though, to keep things in perspective. Black draft mode print, which is fine for day-to-day documentation, produces a healthy 8.6ppm.
A single-page colour copy from the machine’s flatbed took 35s, which is again a fair speed and a 15 x 10cm photo on HP's Advanced photo paper took 1:07, which is none too fast, but not a main target task for a machine at this price.
The prints we obtained from the Deskjet 1050A are not as good as from HP’s more expensive machines, but are still workable. Black text looks rather more dense and fuzzy than is normal for HP printers. There's some spread of ink into the paper fibres and a little fringing on the trailing edge of some characters.
Colours are bright and ideal for business graphics, though there's a little bit of banding in some areas of solid fill. A colour copy was noticeably lighter, but still close enough to work with, and scans from the 1,200ppi scan head are also sharp and reasonably colour-neutral. A photo print was a little lighter than we normally expect, but still showed smooth colour transitions and plenty of detail in the shadows.
Using the high yield, XL version of the cartridges gives page costs of 5.5p for a black page and 12.5p for colour. Neither of these figures are particularly attractive, though they’re not the highest we’ve seen and most of the higher ones have been from more expensive printers.
The Deskjet 1050A is another value printer from HP. While it’s not that cheap to run, the ultra-low purchase price and its above-average print quality compensate. It’s a neat design, which would fit easily in, say, a student bedroom, without emptying the pockets of whoever funds the student.