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Printer makers: give us cheap, high-quality prints

It was long a sacred truth among printer manufacturers: to part punter and cash, slash cost of hardware, stick impressive (and unrealistic) print speeds on box, recoup cost in toner and paper. Rub hands, emit low chuckle, back away slowly until reaching bank.

Trouble is, we're getting wise to such tricks.

When asked in a November 2008 PCAdvisor.co.uk poll: 'what's important to you when you buy a printer?', only 8.2 percent of respondents said they feel that print speeds matter most.

Users these days know that advertised print speeds are achieved in conditions far removed from the real world. It's like dropping someone out of a plane 26 miles up and claiming the time it takes them to hit the ground is a marathon personal best (3:08:18, since you ask).

Technically, quoted print speeds always stack up: morally, and in any way that could be useful to the end user, not so much.

On the other hand, almost a quarter (23.9 percent) of the 3,316 PCA poll votes suggested that cost of consumables is the main consideration when buying a printer. Indeed, the only other response above 15 percent was for 'print quality'.

Print quality and printer consumables are hot-button topics - especially in a world where 'green computing' is a noun. Most printer manufacturers will tell you that to achieve best results you have to use only their own-brand toner and paper. On some inkjets, when one colour runs out you have to replace them all - although this particular practice is in decline, largely due to consumer desire.

Indeed, it's heartening to see that the word is out. To judge a printer you have to look at the cost of running it over its lifetime. When you see a printer review on PCAdvisor.co.uk, the value for money score represents exactly that - which isn't a bad message to take to your boss when you're buying an office inkjet.

And the message for manufacturers is clear: tech-savvy people are prepared to pay more for a printer, so long as the quality and reliability is good, and they don't get stung on the cost of toner and paper.

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