One of the odd and largely unheralded developments in technology over the past few years is paper. To wit, inexpensive paper for printers, especially inkjet printers and cases where you might be using either a laser or an inkjet printer.
I was reminded of this just now. I finished up a ream of “boring old paper” that I’d purchased when we picked up a (cheap at the time, probably $300) HP ThinkJet for my wife’s computer, probably four or five years ago. She never used the computer much (she’s a full-time systems analyst who taught computer programming when she was in college, so it’s not a lack of computer skills: she has better things to do at home). So I had this ream of Champion InkJet paper, which probably cost at least $7 back then. “Specially designed finish for ink jet printing” and “Bright for crisp contrast.” Also labeled as “High bright.” But there’s also the number: 87 brightness.
Five years (seven years?) ago, 87 brightness probably was “high bright” and came at a premium.
Today? I think the CostCo copier paper we use at work (in copiers and lasers alike) is 87 brightness and the same 20 pounds. It sure doesn’t cost any $7 a ream.
At home, I checked the other paper I’ll be moving to.
- There’s Office Depot Multipurpose Paper, “ideal for use in copiers, printers and fax machines.” Acid free (which isn’t specified one way or the other on the Champion ream), I think around $2.50 a ream.
- Or the HP Printing Paper I’ve had for a while (there was a good deal, five 600-count super-reams for $15 or so, which comes out to about $2.50 a ream). Also acid-free, it’s a 22lb. paper (almost uniquely), 92 brightness. According to the chart on the pack (at least a year old already), HP doesn’t sell paper with brightness below 87, which is what their recycled copier paper measures.
- Or Office Depot’s Premium Inkjet Paper, which I got free when buying TurboTax (it costs $3.25 a ream otherwise, when it’s not on sale): 24lb., 104 brightness, 35% post-consumer content–and, of course, acid free. No chlorine used in the production.
- Or if I wanted to get fancy, there’s the $3.50-ream (on sale) Office Depot Color Inkjet Paper, 24lb. 99+ brightness, acid free. (That’s been around a while; at the time, I think “99%” was the maximum brightness rating you could use.)
Back in the day, when I was producing camera-ready copy for books on my laser printer (the first and second of which cost 15 times what my current Epson multipurpose device cost, ignoring inflation), I had to seek out paper of the right opacity, brightness, and finish. It wasn’t cheap.
I miss those days not at all. I’m delighted that companies can get paper with substantial recycled content very white without using chlorine.
Of course, “inkjet specificity” has largely gone away, except for special cases such as transparencies. I print leftover “laserjet labels” on my inkjet without difficulty. A little more daring, but so far uneventful: strips of 12-up pin-feed labels (one label wide), perforated as part of a continuous feed, obviously purchased for the dot matrix printer I had what, 15 years ago? Yep, they print just fine–the joy of a straight-through paper path. (I would never put those labels in an HP or any other printer with a U-path!)