Behind the Scenes

Wirth Consulting’s hands-on testing includes everything we’ve distilled from testing and evaluating thousands of office-imaging products over the years. We’ve been testing digital office-imaging products from their inception, from the 2-ppm HP DeskJet 500 to the 250-ppm Océ VarioPrint 250, and everything in between.

Here’s a look at what goes on behind the scenes when we test a new product:

 

We evaluate how easy it is to unbox and setup a device, and the evaluation is largely based on how long it takes to complete the process. Initially, we simply timed how long it took. However, we discovered that when it came time to box-up a test unit to return it to a vendor, we could not remember how everything went back together. Because we were concerned about how a test unit could be damaged during shipping because of improper packing, we decided to video record the process. Once we began the recording the process, the next steps were self-evident, publish a library of narrated unboxing and set up videos on our Web site and YouTube channel.

“Oh man, thanks a ton. Frustration with loading the printer cartridges. First printer I’ve ever owned really so it was making me pretty antsy (only bought the printer because I had some time-sensitive stuff needing to print). So thanks again.”

Because of our extensive contact with end-users, we know that office and IT managers value quick and easy deployment of a new imaging product. Consequently, we have always evaluated the software and network installation and deployment processes.

Step 3 – Maintenance and Use Photo Shoot

We take still photographs of all controls and maintenance procedures for inclusion in our test reports. On the right, the tester uses a remote camera control in order to photograph removing the duplex unit. We then create a catalog of photos and include them in our Photo Galleries on our Web site and Flickr Photostream.

Using the most appropriate quality settings, we print this selection of image-quality test samples on premium ink-jet/laser paper and the recommended photo paper.

Step 5 – Print and Copy Productivity

Productivity test suite and the resultant print file sizes

It’s essential before testing begins to start with a standard clean PC in order to obtain replicable test results. We take the following steps before commencing a test:

We ensure that unnecessary print drivers are completely removed (left). We then perform a disk cleanup. Disk defragmentation is scheduled to automatically run after hours.

Step 5 – Analyze Software

 

We catalog and analyze all software installed using the full installation procedure. We catalog, analyze and report on all software installed during the full installation procedure, and detail the functionality of any processes that run in the background.

 

We analyze and report on the functionality of any included client software, including scan and print drivers.

Once Steps 1-5 are complete, we assemble the test results, photographs, screen captures and detailed specifications and produce the test report. Our reports begin with an Executive Summary with an overview of the product and its performance during testing. In general, our Hands-On Test Reports exceed 30 pages so there’s plenty of detailed information within for every type of interested party. Don’t forget that we also include supply cost and yields and calculate Cost per Page and Total Cost of Ownership.

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