When it comes to computer technology, the traditional wisdom is often short-lived. Recent developments in printer technology, for example, have all but dashed the conventional belief that laser-class printers are necessarily the most economical and efficient all-in-one (AIO) machines. We’ve seen several high-volume inkjet AIOs, such as the Epson WorkForce Pro WP-4590 we looked at back in late 2012 and, more recently, HP’s Officejet Pro 276dw we reviewed in June 2013, that stand tall—in terms of print speeds, print quality, and cost per page (CPP)—compared to their laser-class counterparts.
Then, too, we mustn’t forget HP’s early-2013 debut of its PageWide-basedOfficejet Pro X576dw Multifunction Printer. Hands-down the fastest and least-expensive-to-use inkjet AIO we’ve seen, this workhorse kept pace with several midrange ($400-to-$700) laser-class multifunction machines we’ve tested, and its per-page operational cost was (and still is) one of the lowest in the printer industry—regardless of the imaging technology.
The PageWide technology is special, in that it uses a fixed array of inkjet printheads to spray the ink onto your pages. We liked the two Officejet Pro X models we tested very much, but the PageWide technology has only appeared in these relatively high-end inkjet models. And they should not overshadow a set of high-volume, low-ink-cost AIOs that HP makes with conventional carriages: the Officejet Pro 8600 series.
Beginning with our January 2012 Editors’ Choice recipient, the Officejet Pro 8600 Plus (which was replaced by the aforementioned Officejet Pro 276dw, also an Editors’ Choice winner), these printers have been both fine values and performers. Thus our excitement when we learned that in 2014, the Palo Alto, Calif.-based printer giant was poised to debut a series of high-volume workhorses aimed at small and medium businesses (SMBs). Consisting of three models—the Officejet Pro 8610, 8620, and 8630 e-All-in-Ones—they stair-step upward in list price at $199.99, $299.99, and $399.99, respectively.
Debuting on April 7, 2014, the stripped-down $199.99 Officejet Pro 8610 will, according to HP, print up to 19 monochrome pages per minute (ppm) and 14.5ppm in color. In addition to a wealth of mobile and Web-based print channels, this entry-level model will come with a 2.7-inch touch screen, a 35-page automatic document feeder (ADF), and a 250-sheet input drawer. Also due out on April 7, the $299.99 Officejet Pro 8620 is rated for 21ppm black-and-white and 16.5ppm color. In addition to all the features available on the Officejet Pro 8610, the Officejet Pro 8620 will sport a 4.3-inch touch screen, a 50-sheet automatic document feeder (ADF), and support for NFC “touch-to-print.” (We’ll discuss NFC and several other unusual functions in the Design & Features section on the next page.)
Then there’s the subject of our review here, the $399.99 Officejet Pro 8630, which, according to HP, won’t be released until May 5, 2014. The Officejet Pro 8630 comes with all of the 8620’s features, along with a second 250-sheet paper drawer (for a total of 500 sheets of paper capacity), OCR software, and an extra set of color (cyan, magenta, and yellow) ink cartridges. The additional ink tanks would run you about $60 on HP’s Web site, in effect reducing the price of the Officejet Pro 8630 to a mere $40 more than the 8620, which seems like a small price to pay for the additional input drawer.
Like with the Officejet Pro 8600 and Officejet Pro 276dw before it, we found very little to dislike about the Officejet Pro 8630. It’s fast, and its print, scan, and copy quality are top-notch—easily comparable to what we’ve come to expect from high-end HP printers. Our only real concern, in terms of overall value, is the challenge set forth by the HP Officejet Pro X576dw we spoke of earlier. Granted, its list price is a couple of hundred dollars more than the Officejet Pro 8630’s, but it’s also nearly twice as fast and rated for more than twice the recommended maximum monthly duty cycle. (“Duty cycle” is the maximum number of pages that HP estimates you can print without inflicting undue wear on the printer.)
The Officejet Pro X576dw also manages a lower per-page cost. We’ll compare the ongoing operational costs between these two models and others in the Setup & Paper Handling section a little later in this review. But up front, here’s our recommendation: If you’re looking for a high-volume workhorse, it’s hard to go wrong with this Officejet. Depending on the kind of monthly print volume you need, though, there does become a point when the faster, bigger, and more-expensive Officejet Pro X makes more sense. Figuring out which side of that tipping point you’re on is the key buying consideration, and we’ll get into that over the course of this review.
Read entire review at Computer Shopper.