HP Inc may be best known for its LaserJet printers, but it’s also a major player in the inkjet market. The company has long championed its PageWide inkjet technology as a faster and more cost-effective alternative to laser, and employed it to build a number of specialist large-format solutions. More recently HP has also released PageWide Multi-Function Printers (MFPs) for the SME market. Now enterprise customers looking for alternatives to the laser-powered copier/MFP are catered for, following HP’s enterprise printer revamp earlier this year.
Some sixteen new MFPs were included in that launch, including the Samsung-engined Color LaserJet Managed MFP E77830 and three all-new enterprise class A3 PageWide MFPs. One of these is the all-singing, all-dancing PageWide Managed MFP P77760z, reviewed here, which is only available on a managed print service (MPS) contract; the other two models are less well-specified Pro units that can be purchased outright.
For those new to PageWide, the main difference compared to the kind of desktop inkjets we all know and love is that the inkjet head doesn’t move back and forth across the paper to print a document. Instead the mechanism is fixed and, as the name implies, made up of a matrix of printheads spread across the entire width of the page. That means fewer moving parts, in theory making PageWide printers more reliable and energy efficient than laser alternatives and capable of very high throughput rates.
In the case of the P77760z the throughput ceiling is an amazing 80 A4 pages per minute (ppm), both in colour and black-and-white. On the downside that’s at the expense of quality, those pages being printed in what HP calls General Office mode. That said, even with the alternative Professional or laser-comparable mode you can still get 60 ppm, with the first page emerging after around 7 seconds in each case.
In terms of resolution the basic inkjet engine is rated at 600-by-600 dots per inch (dpi), optimised in software to give the equivalent of either 1200 by 1200 for Best monochrome and 2400 by 1200 for Best colour output. This makes for a versatile high-volume print engine that compares well with laser for general office work, if not quite up to the standard required by photographers and other demanding image professionals.
PageWide also compares well when it comes to consumables — there’s no need for any kind of drum or transfer belt, as in a laser, for example. On the P77760z that translates into four clean and easy-to-swap cartridges for the inks — simple tanks that slide in at the front with a choice of either standard capacity (up to 10,000 pages for black and 8,000 for each colour) or double that using high-yield cartridges.
On the downside the inks are far from inexpensive with a full set of high-yield cartridges, for example, selling for £446 (ex. VAT) on HP’s website. Furthermore, with the cartridges chipped, there’s no compatible market or refill option. That still works out at just 2-2.5 pence per A4 page, which is significantly lower than for a laser in this price bracket. The same goes for HP’s typical ‘per-click’ charge for its managed print service, which also includes all of the required maintenance.
Note that costs for A3 aren’t explicitly quoted but will, typically, be double those for A4.
Paper to go
Maximum duty cycle for the PageWide MFP is 250,000 pages per month, although that’s very much a theoretical limit. For practical purposes HP recommends between 2,500 and 50,000 pages per month, both for maximum reliability and convenience in terms of consumable consumption and maintenance.
That level of throughput naturally requires plenty of paper, and there’s a range of A3/A4 drawers and stands that can be specified to boost the standard 650-sheet input capacity all the way up to 4,650 sheets, with a stapler/stacker/hole punch unit also available to provide additional finishing options, if required.
All the bells and whistles
In use it’s very hard to tell that you’re printing using an inkjet inside the PageWide MFP rather than a laser. Plus, of course, you get double-sided printing as standard along with all the other the extras you’d expect to find on a comparable laser MFP, not least a high-speed flatbed scanner, equipped with an automatic document feeder conveniently positioned on top of the unit.
With a top speed of 100 images/minute, the scanner is more than capable of keeping up with the PageWide print engine, turning the P77760z into a true multifunction device complete with an 8-inch colour touchscreen and optional pull-out keyboard to manage both scanning/copying and various other built-in processes.
All the usual options are available here to scan to email, to a network folder, a remote PC, a local USB device and other options, along with tools to manipulate images before saving, fine-tune copying and so on. We found the interface responsive and very easy to follow, thanks to HP’s efforts to offer a consistent look and feel across all of its printers and MFPs regardless of the technology on which they’re based.
Then there are the bits you don’t normally get to see, including a comprehensive set of security features to match those found on the latest Color LaserJet MFP. To this end, the PageWide MFP will scan its own BIOS at power up and automatically substitute a protected ‘gold’ copy if any unexpected changes are found, as well as applying whitelisting rules to make sure the printer only ever loads authentic HP firmware. The PageWide MFP also supports real-time intrusion detection, automatically rebooting in the event of a suspected attack.
Other notable features include built-in wireless networking, including support for WiFi Direct printing, Bluetooth and NFC connectivity. The P77760x also benefits from a 1.5GHz processor supported by 1.5GB of RAM and and internal 16GB SSD. Add in OCR and fax support, and you get a very capable and well-specified A3 MFP that can handle the print, copy, scan and fax workloads of the most demanding businesses.
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