Roman just posted an interesting observation about pdf printers on the Ghacks forum. He noticed that the output file size of pdf printers differed considerably. In his own test, he noticed a difference of nearly 400% between the smallest file size and largest file size. While that's just been a single test, it shows that users may do good to test various pdf printers if file size is a criteria for them.
Roman printed a webpage to pdf document that included text and some images. I decided to investigate the issue further, and came to similar conclusions.
The following pdf printers were used in the test:
You can check out additional pdf printers over at the overview at Freeware Genius's blog.
I have tested two different documents, first a Word document from SEOMoz, and second the forum page containing Roman's forum post.
Word document, original file size 439 Kilobytes
Bullzip PDF Printer: 350 Kilobytes
DoPDF 7: 317 Kilobytes
PDF Creator: 348 Kilobytes
Primo PDF: 512 Kilobytes
Web page, original file size 450 Kilobytes
Bullzip PDF Printer: 256 Kilobytes
DoPDF 7: 212 Kilobytes
PDF Creator: 240 Kilobytes
Primo PDF: 172 Kilobytes
The differences are not nearly as wide in range as Roman's findings, but they may still be considerable. Especially the Word document differences are noteworthy. While Bullzip PDF Printer, DoPDF 7 and PDF Creator remain between 317 and 350 Kilobytes, Primo PDF breaks out resulting in a file size increase of 150 to 200 Kilobytes.
It is rather surprising that the pdf printer with the largest file size managed to create the lowest file size converting the web page. The three other printers are again close to each other, with DoPDF a little bit better than the other two.
Some pdf printers may come with options to reduce the file size of the resulting pdf documents, for instance by compressing images. All tests have been conducted with the default settings.
This test concentrates on file size, and there may be other factors playing a role for users, pdf quality a top one. A difference of a few hundred Kilobytes makes no big difference if the documents are stored on a desktop PC, they can however have an impact if the pdf documents are stored and accessed on mobile devices like ebook readers or smartphones with limited space and processing capabilities.
My suggestion would be to install at least two different pdf printers on the system for best results. Ideally two different printers, for instance one that utilizes Ghostscript (which many pdf printers do) and another one that does not use Ghostscript.
Have you been working with pdf printers? If you did, tell us about your experience in the comments.
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Ghacks is a technology news blog that was founded in 2005 by Martin Brinkmann. It has since then become one of the most popular tech news sites on the Internet with five authors and regular contributions from freelance writers.