HP offers a business tariff for Instant Ink, costing £22.49 (inc VAT) per month for up to 700 pages per month, with overages charged at £1 per 10 sheets. Whilst this may well be ample for a small operation, it further illustrates that the 9012e is not aimed at large scale deployments, where running costs would soon spiral, especially as each printer requires a separate subscription.
The Instant Ink offering makes it difficult to do a side-by-side cost per page, but we’ve worked out on the assumptions of an Instant Ink subscription at the Business tariff of £22.49 per month, versus buying a full set of cartridges for £89.99. In these two scenarios, the cost per page is 12.8p per page if you buy cartridges, or a mere 3.2p per page with Instant Ink.
However, there’s a major caveat. The black cartridge lasts for 1000 pages instead of 700. Instant Ink cartridges are always sent in complete sets, but a black cartridge can be bought outright for £29.99 - which works out at 2.9p per page. As such, if you do very little colour printing, it could be marginally cheaper to go down that route, but the difference is so negligible, it’s probably easier to stick to the Instant Ink option.
So that leaves us with a machine that can be either extremely expensive, or extremely cheap to run. The Brother MFC-J4540DW, which has no ink subscription offer and works out at 3.3p per page makes the HP ‘standalone’ option of 12.8p seem exceptionally expensive. Go for the subscription, and the HP is slightly cheaper (3.2p per page) and gives you the peace of mind that you’ll always have enough ink.
The 9012e is capable of printing and scanning at 1200x1200 DPI, an impressive boast, but high resolution always comes at a price. In draft mode, HP claims it will print at up to 32 pages per minute, even in full colour. Unfortunately, we achieved nowhere near this. We clocked 3 and-a-bit full colour pages, or 7 monochrome text-only pages.
But worse than that, the average time between hitting print and the first page printing was a woeful 40 seconds, during which there’s a mixture of worrying silence and loud whirring and clicking. That consistently long gap is extremely off putting, which is a shame, because even in draft mode, the print quality is excellent.