Hewlett Packard, one of the pioneers behind the wide usage of desktop laser printers, has commissioned a Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) study to investigate the variances in expected toner-cartridge life due to printer manufacturers' use of non-standardized documents in determining cost per page (CPP) for monochrome laser printers.
The message is that enterprises stand to have a clearer picture of TCO when choosing new laser printers or evaluating the cost of operating their installed base of printers.
The study, undertaken by the International Data Corporation, claims that the usual 5 percent page coverage (for a U.S. legal size paper measuring 8.5" by 11") used by printer manufacturers, is difficult to quantify consistently, especially if they do not agree to use a standardized test page to conform to the 5 percent print coverage rule when specifying a toner cartridge's CPP.
In Europe, a widely utilized standard letter is used to test cartridge yields. This document, called the “Dr. Grauert Letter”, does offer vendors a standard document with which to test yields, and gives end users an “average” document to use as a benchmark against their own output. However, the document represents approximately only 3 to 4 percent page coverage in text-only format, and may not be reflective of today’s typical print environment. Additionally, since the letter was developed as a European standard, it is intended to be printed on European letter-sized paper (A4). This paper is slightly longer and more narrow than the standard 8.5" × 11" letter-sized paper used in the United States. Finally, because the Dr. Grauert Letter is written in a local European language, IDC does not believe that it can be effectively presented to U.S. printer vendors and customers as a standard document to be used as a benchmark against their own typical output.
In response to its own claims, IDC has created a new, universal document which it deems appropriate for unbiased testing by any laser printer manufacturer. This comprehensive test document, which has a total print coverage of approximately 5 percent of the entire page, was co-developed by IDC and Hewlett-Packard. The file is in the form of an English language memo that features a small bar chart and table graphical elements, and is intended to be printed on 8.5" × 11" or A4 paper. This allows the use of the file in countries that utilize A4. The file utilizes a Microsoft ® Word 97 file with a table and chart constructed in Microsoft ® Excel 97 using default settings.
IDC then converted this document into PCL and Acrobat file formats for testing. The purpose of this conversion was to create a test file that would have a low probability of being unintentionally manipulated. IDC claims that while no document can completely prevent “manipulation” by the user (both intentional and unintentional), the PCL and Acrobat formats offer the fairest solution since they can be used across printer platforms, manufacturers and printer language configurations.
The IDC-HP test document does not use any vendor names or logos, and IDC considers it to be vendor impartial. There is nothing inherent in the document file that will improve or detract from the performance of any printer or toner vendor’s products.
Interested readers may view the IDC white paper, which contains the Grauert Letter and IDC-HP test document White paper in PDF format