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Print Speed

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Is speed of the essence for you when it comes to printing? If it is, then you’ll need to look at the print-per-minute (PPM) specs that printer manufacturers offer. You’ll need to take some of these with a grain of salt; typically, they represent averages, and there are a lot of elements involved that could make a difference. To get an idea of how manufacturers come up with their print speeds, you can learn from HP's description of the process.

Variables

The size and type of document being printed has a great deal to do with the speed at which the copier operates. If you’ve got a large PDF file, the printer needs to do a lot of background work before it can get started. If that file is full of color graphics, that could slow up the process even more. On the other hand, if you’re printing out a black-and-white text document, the process can be pretty speedy.

Keep in mind also that manufacturer claims of PPM don’t consider how long it takes the machine to warm up. That can be a long time in the case of laser printers and some inkjets (my Pixma MP530, for example, takes more than 20 seconds from the time I turn it on to the time it’s ready to print). On the other hand, photo printers like the HP Photosmart A626 are ready to go almost from the moment they’re switched on.

Print Options

Printer companies work hard to make printing easy. While there are a lot of print options, printers will try to find the best way to print whatever you send at them. But they don’t always know best. One way you can speed up print jobs—especially if they’re not intended for distribution to others—is to change your printer preferences.

If you’ve really got the need for speed, then set your printer’s default to Draft. You won’t get good-looking results (for example, fonts won’t look particularly smooth, and colors won’t be rich) but draft printing can be a big time saver. Even better, it’s a big ink saver.

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