The Age-Old Printer Battle: Color vs. Black and White - Print Speed: Multipass

 
 
By eweek  |  Posted 2008-01-03
 
 
 

The Age-Old Printer Battle: Color vs. Black and White

The day will surely come when there's no choice in printers: There will be color and color. But today, its worth taking a fresh look at the pros and cons of color and monochrome printers. The results may surprise you.

By M. David Stone

The Age-Old Printer Battle: Color vs. Black and White

The Age-Old Printer Battle: Color vs. Black and White - Print Speed: General

Print Speed: General Advantage: B&W At any given price point, a monochrome laser printer will be faster than its color equivalent.

The Age-Old Printer Battle: Color vs. Black and White - Print Speed: General

The Age-Old Printer Battle: Color vs. Black and White - Print Speed: Multipass

Print Speed: Multipass Advantage: B&W For color printers that need four passes for each page--printing one color on each pass--color pages will typically take four times as long to print as B&W pages. Even some single-pass color printers slow down a bit when printing in color.

The Age-Old Printer Battle: Color vs. Black and White - Print Speed: Multipass

The Age-Old Printer Battle: Color vs. Black and White - Print Speed: Data Processing

Print Speed: Data Processing Advantage: B&W Even if a color printer and a B&W printer have the same raw engine speed, the color printer can take longer to print complex images. Color pages sometimes have three times as much data as the equivalent page in B&W, and more data takes more time to process.

The Age-Old Printer Battle: Color vs. Black and White - Print Speed: Data Processing

The Age-Old Printer Battle: Color vs. Black and White - First-Page-Out Time

First-Page-Out Time Advantage: B&W At any price point, the first-page-out time will usually be faster for a monochrome printer than for a color model.

The Age-Old Printer Battle: Color vs. Black and White - First-Page-Out Time

The Age-Old Printer Battle: Color vs. Black and White - Monthly Duty Cycle: General

Monthly Duty Cycle: General Advantage: B&W At any price point, a monochrome printer will usually have a higher maximum duty cycle--the maximum number of pages it can print per month without driving up repair costs. Fortunately, though, most color and monochrome printers have higher maximum duty cycles than most offices need. (The rule of thumb: For maximum printer lifetime, the duty cycle should be three times your actual print volume.)

The Age-Old Printer Battle: Color vs. Black and White - Monthly Duty Cycle: General

The Age-Old Printer Battle: Color vs. Black and White - Monthly Duty Cycle: Multipass

Monthly Duty Cycle: Multipass Advantage: B&W For color printers that need four passes for each page, the monthly duty cycle advantage for monochrome printers is even more than the specs suggest. The color printers duty cycle is really measured in passes, not pages, with one pass per mono page and four passes per color page.

The Age-Old Printer Battle: Color vs. Black and White - Monthly Duty Cycle: Multipass

The Age-Old Printer Battle: Color vs. Black and White - Paper Handling

Paper Handling Advantage: B&W Because paper-handling features usually go hand-in-hand with faster speed and higher duty cycle, a monochrome printer at any given price will usually have better paper-handling features, whether standard or as options that a color model doesn't offer. Possibilities include a higher paper capacity; duplexing; or a stacker, sorter or finisher.

The Age-Old Printer Battle: Color vs. Black and White - Paper Handling

The Age-Old Printer Battle: Color vs. Black and White - Size and Weight

Size and Weight Advantage: B&W For any given level of performance, monochrome printers are smaller and lighter than color models. This is particularly important in offices or on desktops that are tight on space.

The Age-Old Printer Battle: Color vs. Black and White - Size and Weight

The Age-Old Printer Battle: Color vs. Black and White - Text Quality

Text Quality Advantage: A Draw Text quality is too important an issue not to mention, but its also not much of a consideration when choosing between color and monochrome printers. Although text quality certainly varies from one printer to another, there's no consistent pattern that favors either monochrome or color models.

The Age-Old Printer Battle: Color vs. Black and White - Text Quality

The Age-Old Printer Battle: Color vs. Black and White - Graphics Quality: General

Graphics Quality: General Advantage: Color The main advantage color printers have for graphics is obvious: They print in color. All other things being equal, color graphics are more eye-catching and attractive, which gives your work a more professional look.

The Age-Old Printer Battle: Color vs. Black and White - Graphics Quality: General

The Age-Old Printer Battle: Color vs. Black and White - Graphics Quality: Graphics

Graphics Quality: Graphics Advantage: Color All other things are rarely equal. Even ignoring the color itself--and even when printing B&W images--color printers tend to do a better job on graphics. They are much less likely to show flaws such as dithering and are much more likely to keep subtle shading that tends to disappear with monochrome printers.

The Age-Old Printer Battle: Color vs. Black and White - Graphics Quality: Graphics

The Age-Old Printer Battle: Color vs. Black and White - Making Graphics Make Sense

Making Graphics Make Sense Advantage: Color Color doesnt just look good, it can also help convey information. A complicated business graphic that shows, say, profit margins and losses in different divisions of a company is much easier to understand if it uses color coding.

The Age-Old Printer Battle: Color vs. Black and White - Making Graphics Make Sense

The Age-Old Printer Battle: Color vs. Black and White - Printing Photos: Business Needs

Printing Photos: Business Needs Advantage: Color B&W photos have their place, but for businesses that need photos for documentation--for anything from real estate to insurance claims-monochrome just doesn't cut it. If you need photos, you almost always need color.

The Age-Old Printer Battle: Color vs. Black and White - Printing Photos: Business Needs

The Age-Old Printer Battle: Color vs. Black and White - Printing Photos: Monochrome Images

Printing Photos: Monochrome Images Advantage: Color When it comes to printing B&W photos, nearly all color printers do a better job than monochrome printers. In many cases, color printers create shades of gray as a composite of cyan, yellow and magenta dots, a technique that allows much more subtle gradations--and thus better-looking photos--than a monochrome printer can deliver.

The Age-Old Printer Battle: Color vs. Black and White - Printing Photos: Monochrome Images

The Age-Old Printer Battle: Color vs. Black and White - Client or Company Newsletters

Client or Company Newsletters Advantage: Color Even the New York Times, the celebrated Gray Lady of the newspaper world, eventually gave in to using color photos. If you print company newsletters for internal use or for sending out to clients and customers, using color appropriately will give your newsletters a much more professional look.

The Age-Old Printer Battle: Color vs. Black and White - Client or Company Newsletters

The Age-Old Printer Battle: Color vs. Black and White - Marketing Materials

Marketing Materials Advantage: Color For marketing materials like trifold brochures or one-page mailers or handouts, theres simply no comparison: The color versions are much more likely to get noticed and read, and their subtext is that you're running a professional operation.

The Age-Old Printer Battle: Color vs. Black and White - Marketing Materials

The Age-Old Printer Battle: Color vs. Black and White - Copying Using Multifunction Devices

Copying Using Multifunction Devices Advantage: Color Any current MFP (multifunction printer) will scan in color. The combination of a color scanner and printer makes the MFP a color copier as well. That's a lot more convenient, and less expensive, than running to a copy shop when you need color copies.

The Age-Old Printer Battle: Color vs. Black and White - Copying Using Multifunction Devices

The Age-Old Printer Battle: Color vs. Black and White - Saving on Outsourcing

Saving on Outsourcing Advantage: Color If you farm out color print jobs--for anything from one-page mailers to multipage reports--a color printer can easily pay for itself. For example, saving just 25 cents per page on 100 pages per month translates to $900 over three years -- or $1,500 over five years.

The Age-Old Printer Battle: Color vs. Black and White - Saving on Outsourcing

The Age-Old Printer Battle: Color vs. Black and White - Initial Cost

Initial Cost Advantage: B&W At any price point, you get better speed, paper handling and duty cycles from a monochrome printer than from a color printer. Any way you slice it, monochrome models cost less to buy.

The Age-Old Printer Battle: Color vs. Black and White - Initial Cost

The Age-Old Printer Battle: Color vs. Black and White - Total Cost of Ownership

Total Cost of Ownership Advantage: Depends Given higher initial costs for a color printer and for each color page, it seems obvious that the TCO should be higher for color models than for B&W models. But, if you include the money saved on outsourcing by printing color pages yourself, TCO can actually be cheaper for color. So don't assume color will cost more. Do the math to find out.

The Age-Old Printer Battle: Color vs. Black and White - Total Cost of Ownership

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