With all of the innovation going on in information technology these days, printers may not be the sexiest set of gear, but they remain one of the bedrocks. An absolute in the printer market nowadays is that, no matter what you pay for it—from $50 to $1,000 or more—your single-function or multifunction machine should print at least passably well, and it should perform like a champ—in terms of mechanical functionality, if not necessarily speed. Those are 2017’s printer table stakes.

Computer Shopper's Top 100 Tech Products of 2017: Printers

From small or home-based offices to huge enterprises and workgroups, an ongoing trend in printer technology over the past several years has been mobile connectivity—printing from and scanning to your smartphone, tablet, or laptop from virtually anywhere and everywhere. The year 2017 continues that trend, as well as the ongoing ink wars, in which printer makers promote various technologies and programs for providing lower-cost ink (or at least the illusion of it), especially among lower-end consumer and small-office all-in-ones (AIOs). The reality is that ink’s not really any cheaper, but these products do provide a lot more transparency into what it actually costs to keep your printer inked up.

Read the entire article at PCMag



 

IWilliam Harrel's reviews on Computer Shoppert’s hard to believe, but I have been writing for the legendary Computer Shopper for over eight years (as of October 2017), and have been a contributing editor there for about seven years. My beat has covered everything from desktop systems and laptops, to tablets and 2-in-1s in several flavors (operating systems) and size, printers and all-in-one printers in all shapes and sizes, video cards, SSD and other types of disk drives—you name it. It’s been a wild ride.

More so than ever, competition in the tech markets is cutthroat and fierce. It’s been my pleasure to do what I can to keep you all informed.

For a list and links to my articles on Computer Shopper, click here


 

Review of the HP Officejet Pro 7720 Wide-Format All-in-One on Computer ShopperEach year, due primarily to Brother (and to a lesser degree, to HP), the stable of available tabloid-capable (11×17-inch) all-in-one (AIO) printers widens. Many of them can print, copy, scan, and fax, and the AIOs themselves get less expensive to buy and to use.

Nearly all of Brother’s Business Smart Plus AIOs, among them the Brother MFC-J5830DW , support at least tabloid-size printing, and several, including the recent Editors’ Choice Brother MFC-J6935DW , come with scanners and automatic document feeders (ADFs) that can handle wide documents for scans, copies, and faxes.

While Brother makes many wide-format printers with a myriad of feature configurations, HP up until now offered only one, the Officejet Pro 7740 (Check on Amazon at Amazon), that had the ability to print, copy, scan, and fax in tabloid. Now, though, the Palo Alto printer giant is offering a pared-down version of the 7740, the $199.99-list Officejet Pro 7720.($199.99 at Amazon) It’s different from the 7740 in several key ways. The newer model, for instance, comes with only one 250-sheet paper-input tray, versus the 7740’s two 250-sheet cassettes.

The biggest difference between these two Officejets, though, is that the newer one has a smaller scanner and ADF, rendering it capable of copying, scanning, and faxing only legal-size (8.5×14-inch) pages. Aside from the smaller paper-input capacity and the inability to run tabloid-size pages through the ADF and scanner, though, these two Officejets are the spitting image of each other. But as you’ll see as you read on, what you give up for the $50 list price difference between them is significant.

We should pause here to add that Epson, too, makes a few wide-format printers meant for small businesses or workgroups, including the WorkForce WF-7610 All-in-One ($247.00 at Amazon), the WorkForce WF-7620 All-in-One (Check on Amazon at Amazon), and the WorkForce ET-16500 EcoTank Wide-Format All-in-One Supertank ($999.99 at Amazon). The difference between the first two is that the latter comes with two 250-sheet paper drawers, while the former has only one. The ET-16500 is one of Epson’s “bulk ink” AIOs that comes with tens of thousands of pages’ worth of ink in the box, and, as a result, it lists for about $1,000.

HP OfficeJet Pro 7720 (Introduction)

Another significant distinction between the Epson models, compared to the HP and Brother AIOs, is that all three of them print wide-format pages up to 13×19 inches, instead of 11×17. All three are simply WorkForce models rather than WorkForce Pro AIOs, meaning that their printheads contain fewer ink-nozzle chips (two chips, as opposed to the four on the WorkForce Pro models’ printheads). In addition, the WF-7610 and WF-7620 have been around since 2014; they lack a few recent mobile-connectivity and other features, and, as we’ll discuss later, they have substantially higher running costs.

In any case, back to the Officejet Pro 7720, the newest of the bunch. As mentioned, you give up a fair bit versus the Officejet Pro 7740, including the features listed earlier, as well as an ADF capable of scanning and copying two-sided pages automatically. On the other hand, the footprint and price are both smaller, and you get the same exceptional print and copy quality. The 7740 is a highly capable wide-format inkjet with many desirable attributes, and so goes the 7720. Nowadays, though, the competition among tabloid-size inkjet AIOs is brisker than ever.

Read the entire review at Computer Shopper



 

Review of the HP LaserJet Enterprise M653x at PCMag

  • PROS

    Very fast. Good overall print quality. Strong paper-input capacity. Very-high-yield toner cartridges. Customizable control panel. Memory is upgradeable to 2GB. Optional hard drive.

  • CONS

    Expensive. Running costs can be high. Subpar photo output. Software and driver installation via the web is problematic.

  • BOTTOM LINE

    HP’s LaserJet Enterprise M653x prints terrific-looking text and graphics, and so-so photos, at an impressive clip, but its running costs are a bit high—especially for such a pricey color laser printer.

HP’s LaserJet Pro laser printers are designed primarily to support small-to-medium-size offices, workgroups, and businesses consisting of about five or so users. The company’s LaserJet Enterprise models, such as the LaserJet Enterprise M653x standalone color laser printer ($2,149), however, are aimed more toward larger offices, workgroups, and corporations with up to 40 or so networked users. In many ways—high print quality, high maximum-duty cycles, and expandability—these two LaserJet brands are often similar.The Enterprise machines, however, are typically faster; they come with significantly higher recommended monthly print volumes, access to higher-yield toner cartridges that deliver lower running costs, and, of course higher purchase prices. The M653x provides all that and more, but given its high price, slightly too-high cost per page, and subpar photo output, it comes up a bit short to make it a top pick mid-to-heavy volume color laser printer for larger workgroups, offices, and enterprises.
Read the entire review at PCMag


 

Review of HP Envy Photo 7855 All-in-One at Computer ShopperIt’s been a couple of years since we’ve reviewed one of HP’s Envy-brand all-in-one (AIO) inkjet printers. The last one, the Envy 7640 e-All-in-One (Check on Amazon at Amazon), was a predecessor to (or at least, in the same series as) the model we’re reviewing here today, the $199-list HP Envy Photo 7855 All-in-One.

Why has it been so long? Well, frankly, there just haven’t been new Envy models to review until now, in late summer 2017. Part of a multi-device rollout that includes the $129-MSRP Envy Photo 6200 All-in-One and the $149-list Envy Photo 7100 All-in-One, the Envy Photo 7855  is the flagship model in this new line.

As the highest-numbered AIO of the bunch, the Envy Photo 7855, as you’d expect, costs the most and gets the most robust set of features. It has, for instance, an automatic document feeder (ADF) for sending multipage originals to the scanner, rather than making you place them on the platen one at a time. In fact, the Envy Photo 7855’s feature set, which includes several functions its less-expensive siblings don’t have&mdashmemory device support, fax, Ethernet, an automatic extending output tray, and support for legal-size paper—is somewhat lopsided, especially given the $50 list-price difference between it and the next-step-down Envy Photo 7100.

We’ll take a closer look at the Photo 7855’s features in the next section. As context, first: By positioning these new Envy models as photo printers, HP has put them toe-to-toe with some formidable competition from two of its major competitors, Canon and Epson. The competing families are, namely, Canon’s photo-centric Pixma TS-series and Epson’s Expression Photo models. These include the six-ink Canon Pixma TS9020 Wireless Inkjet All-In-One ($62.99 at Amazon) and the five-ink Epson Expression Photo XP-860 Small-in-One.($199.99 at Amazon)

These, and several others in both Canon’s and Epson’s stables of consumer-grade photo inkjets, churn out superb photos. One of the questions addressed in the Output Quality section near the end of this review is whether HP’s more traditional four-ink (cyan, magenta, yellow, and black) Envy Photo models are capable of the same brilliant and highly detailed photo output as its five- and six-ink competitors are.

From HP’s POV, the company says a reformulated black ink and some other tweaks make these new photo-centric HP AIOs highly capable photograph printers, too. That said, these so-called photo printers don’t use separate cartridges for each ink, with HP instead deploying a two-cartridge system consisting of one filled with black ink and another holding the other three inks. That’s a system most other inkjet makers have gotten away from, primarily because when one of the reservoirs on the three-ink tank empties before the other two, the entire cartridge must be discarded, thereby wasting ink.

HP says that it has successfully addressed this issue with a new technology it calls Active Ink Balancing Technology, or AIB. According to HP, AIB “…tracks how you are printing. If you are printing a lot of magenta, for instance, it would use CY [cyan and yellow inks], then, on non-PQ [Printer Quality] needed projects (like a word document, not a photo) so that your colors in the IPH [cartridge] all run out closer together.”

We have no scientific way to test this, of course. However, in answer to our question, “What if the user prints a lot of images containing high concentrations of blue sky or water, thereby requiring a disproportionate amount of cyan ink (or other like scenarios)?” HP said that AIB technology can’t compensate for extreme situations like this. In other words, it can’t perform miracles.

One thing that most so-called photo printers have in common, including the Envy Photo 7855, is high per-page ink costs. As we’ll discuss later on, though, the Envy Photo 7855 and its siblings are Instant Ink-ready, meaning that they support HP’s Instant Ink subscription service, one of the least-expensive ways that we know of to print photographs. It breaks out like this, but we’ll get into the details later…

HP Envy Photo 7855 (Instant Ink)

And that&mdashthe ability to print good-looking photographs for literally a few pennies each&mdashis without question a good reason for choosing the Envy Photo 7855 over its competitors, especially if you intend to print a lot of images. With the Envy Photo 7855, you might give up some image quality, but what you’d save on ink each month (and over the life of the printer) could save you a pile of money over time.

Read entire review at Computer Shopper



 

Review of the HP DeskJet 2655 All-in-One at Computer ShopperThe other day we stated that, at $59.99, HP’s DeskJet 3755 (Check on Amazon at Amazon) had the lowest list price of any all-in-one (AIO) printer—inkjet or otherwise—that we’ve reviewed in quite some time. That was before we started looking at today’s review unit, the $49.99-list DeskJet 2655. While all of the major inkjet-printer makers offer at least one model with a list price under $100, the DeskJet 2655’s half-a-C-note price is about as low as it gets.

The DeskJet 2655  and 3755 entry-level AIOs, for all their common features, are dissimilar in several ways. The most glaring difference is that the DeskJet 2655, the lower-cost model, comes with a traditional flatbed scanner, where the sensor travels the length of the page it’s scanning. The DeskJet 3755 deploys a scroll-feed-type scanner that pulls the paper over the scanning sensor.

Both models use the same ink cartridges, though, so they both hit you for some of the highest running costs in the business—if, that is, you pay full tilt for the official HP ink cartridges on a per-piece basis. But you have an alternative to that, beyond messing with refills or third-party ink tanks. Both the DeskJet 3755 and the 2655 are eligible for HP’s Instant Ink subscription service, making them (if you opt for Instant Ink) downright reasonable in running costs among entry-level printers. The only way to get a lower cost per page from AIOs with similar volume ratings and feature sets? You’ll have to opt for a “bulk-ink” AIO, such as one of Epson’s EcoTank or Canon MegaTank models. (More on those later.) But these machines are pricey by comparison; the idea with these models is, you pay more now to pay less for ink later.

HP DeskJet 2655 (Right Angled Blue)

Confused yet? We’ll delve more into the different ink-buying methods (and their prospective benefits) later in this review. Suffice it to say here that, unless you plan to print very little with the DeskJet 2655, you should definitely go with the Instant Ink plan with this printer. And if you plan to print more than, say, between 50 to 200 pages a month, you might want to consider one of the bulk-ink models, or just something other than an entry-level AIO. (A good option is the Brother MFC-J985DW ($164.99 at Amazon), which, aside from the number of ink cartridges in the box, is identical to—but much less expensive than—the MFC-J985DW XL  we reviewed a while back.)

Print speed and output quality are two other important considerations when buying a new AIO printer, entry-level or otherwise. We’re happy to report that the DeskJet 2655’s print quality is, given its price, surprisingly good. Its print speed, on the other hand… well, let’s just say that it’s not the slowest we’ve seen. But then none of the DeskJet 2655’s direct competitors, such as the Epson Expression Home XP-440 Small-in-One ($49.99 at Amazon), is a speed demon, either.

What you get with the DeskJet 2655 is a low-cost entry-level inkjet AIO designed with very low monthly print and copy volumes in mind. It’s slow, but it prints quite well, and the Instant Ink option tips it as an Editors’ Choice winner and a great pick among under-$60 all-in-one printers. (Mind you, that’s a very small field.)

Read the entire review at Computer Shopper


 

Review of the HP DeskJet 3755 All-in-One printer at Computer ShopperAll of the major makers of inkjet printers offer at least one entry-level all-in-one (AIO) that not only prints, but also makes copies and can scan. A few of these models, such as Brother’s MFC-J480DW ($59.99 at Amazon), also fax. All of the models in this class boast compact sizes and weights, for use in cramped environments such as home offices and school dormitories, and most are list-priced under $100, even if it’s just a penny under, like in the case of the Canon Pixma TS5020 Wireless.($44.95 at Amazon)

The Pixma TS5020 lists on Canon’s site for $99.99, but, as we wrote this, it was on sale on both Canon’s site and elsewhere for $69.99, which is the list price for the printer we’re reviewing here today, HP’s DeskJet 3755 All-in-One.($58.99 at Amazon) The DeskJet is new enough, though, that it still sells for that price on most sites. While $69.99 is the lowest list price for an inkjet AIO we could find during our research, some entry-level machines, such as the Epson Expression Home XP-440 Small-in-One ($49.99 at Amazon), have been on the market long enough that they sell for slightly less than that after discounts. The XP-440, for instance, lists for $99.99 but sells from many online retailers for $59.99.

HP touts the DeskJet 3755 as “the world’s smallest all-in-one printer.” While the XP-440 Small-in-One is only slightly larger, as far as we can HP DeskJet 3755 (Colors)determine (and setting aside mobile AIOs), the Palo Alto company is correct: This is the smallest desktop AIO we’ve seen.

Being smaller than a bread box is not the DeskJet 3755’s only distinction. In fact, it’s not quite like any inkjet AIO we’ve seen before. It has a unique, stylish design, and it comes in more colors and color schemes than you can shake an ink tank at…

Before you get too excited, though, you should know that not all of these color schemes are available to everybody everywhere; the designs available to you depend primarily on where you shop. One, for example, was designed only for Walmart, another for Best Buy, and a few others just for selling via HP’s Web store—you get the idea.

HP also posits that this AIO was designed for millennials; and that this generation, which HP says hardly ever prints, wants a device that is compact, light, inexpensive, and simple, but with extensive support for mobile devices (primarily smartphones). Well, you do get those things with the DeskJet 3755, but you also get slow printing and copying, small-capacity ink cartridges, and high running costs, the last to the extent that using it for anything more than the occasional low-volume print job would be impractical. The one X-factor here, as you’ll see in the Cost Per Page section later on, it that this printer supports HP’s subscription Instant Ink service, which can cut down ink costs considerably.

The DeskJet 3755 is also pitched as a workable photo printer, and, while the photo-printing quality isn’t bad, those same low-volume ink tanks, slow print speeds, and high running costs make it impractical for printing anything beyond the infrequent snapshot. If, on the other hand, all you need is the occasional print, copy, or scan—and if you’re not in a hurry—it can do that. That, and its hip design and small footprint, are where the DeskJet 3755 gets its appeal, though we’ll be more enthusiastic when the price starts to come down.

Read the entire review at Computer Shopper



 

Review of the HP PageWide Pro 750dw at Computer ShopperLet’s say that your organization (or your very, very busy home office) needs to churn out 20,000 or so high-quality prints each month, and some of them (perhaps all of them) must be tabloid-size (11×17 inches). You’re considering purchasing one of Brother’s Business Smart Plus all-in-one (AIO) printers—maybe our highly capable Editors’ Choice pick, MFC-J6935DW ($329.99 at Amazon), or perhaps the HP Officejet Pro 7740 Wide-Format All-in-One (Check on Amazon at Amazon). And why not? Both are logical choices: They print exceptional tabloid-size pages, and they both have maximum monthly duty cycles of 30,000 pages—10,000 pages more than what you need to print, right?

Well, not so fast.

Let’s start with that 30,000-page monthly duty cycle. The more important number—the one not printed on the box—is the recommended monthly page volume, which on the Brother machine we mentioned above is up to 2,000 pages monthly. The Officejet’s recommended volume is up to 1,500 pages per month. As well-built as these machines are, if you actually pushed them to their maximum monthly duty cycle rating each month, you’d likely be shortening their service life. But that’s not all.

Some rough napkin math: Printing 20,000 pages per month, excluding weekends and holidays, comes out to about 1,000 pages per workday. (30,000 pages per month equals about 1,500 pages per day.) If you used one of these midrange business printers to churn out these kinds of volumes, day in and day out, you’d have to fill their paper drawers several times a day, and—especially if you’re printing wide-format, which uses about twice the ink as a standard letter-size page, all else being equal—you’d be changing the ink cartridges twice a day, perhaps more. If you truly require this kind of volume, especially on tabloid-size pages, you need a machine designed to handle this much printing. And that is where a model like the $2,199 HP PageWide Pro 750dw we’re reviewing here today comes in.

HP PageWide Pro 750dw (USB)

Yes, that’s a lot of money for a printer, especially an inkjet printer. But as you read on, you’ll see that, first, HP PageWide printers are not ordinary inkjet printers, and the PageWide Pro 750dw is no ordinary PageWide machine.

In fact, given its size, volume, and some other specs, we think that it’s better suited to HP’s PageWide Enterprise line, like the HP PageWide Enterprise Color 556dn ($552.00 at Amazon) reviewed at our sister site, PCMag, a while back. The PageWide Pro 750dw is, for example, designed to support up to 40 networked users, rather than the five or so users recommended for the smaller inkjets we’ve been talking about.

In fact, the PageWide Pro 750dw is much more in line with a high-volume color laser printer, such as the Dell Color Smart Printer S5840Cdn  we reviewed late last year. A primary difference between it and the 750dw is, of course, that the HP model can print at sizes up to tabloid, which is one reason the PageWide model costs so much. High-volume laser-class printers that can do wide-format, such as the OKI C831n ($1,699 MSRP) (Out of stock at Amazon) and OKI C831dn ($1,929) ($1,881.10 at Amazon),  and wide-format laser alternatives (such as our 750dw), typically have high price tags. But the good news is, at least in the case of the HP model, is that its running costs are reasonable once you’ve bought the printer.

In addition, the PageWide Pro 750dw is highly expandable. You can boost the paper capacity, as we’ll discuss later on, over 4,000 sheets. Plus, according to HP, in the fall of 2017 numerous copier-like finishing options (among them a stapler and a collator) will come available.

The PageWide Pro 750dw is an immense, and immensely well-built, volume printer meant to endure blizzards of wide-format printing month after month. Our only real quibble with it is that it’s somewhat expensive. But then, if you plan to print upward of 10,000 pages each month, you need a Humvee, not a Chevy Silverado.

Read the entire review at Computer Shopper


 

Review of the HP OfficeJet Pro 8216 at PCMagEssentially a two-drawer version of the HP OfficeJet Pro 8210 (Check on Amazon at Amazon), the OfficeJet Pro 8216 ($179.99) ($74.00 at Amazon) is notably slower than its less expensive sibling, but overall print quality is markedly better. A single-function color inkjet business printer, it’s comparable in features and capacity to the Editors’ Choice Canon Maxify iB4120 ($129.99 at Amazon) Wireless Small Office Inkjet Printer, but it costs a little more. The 8216 and Canon iB4120 deliver similar running costs, but the former is eligible for HP’s Instant Ink subscription service, which can save you a bunch on ink. While it doesn’t quite live up to the Canon model’s superior print quality, the OfficeJet Pro 8216 has many assets that make it an excellent alternative to a color laser.

See the entire review at PCMag 



 

Review of the HP ScanJet Pro 4500 fn1 Network Scanner at PCMag

The flagship in HP’s line of flatbed ScanJet Pro document scanners, the 4500 fn1 Network Scanner ($899) ($679.97 at Amazon) is similar in many ways to the ScanJet Pro 3500 f1  Flatbed Scanner. Unlike its less-expensive sibling, though, the 4500 is networkable via both Ethernet and Wi-Fi, scans faster, and has a higher daily duty cycle. It’s also quicker than the Editors’ Choice Canon imageFormula DR-2020U (Check on Amazon at Amazon), as well as the comparably priced Epson WorkForce DS-6500 ($849.00 at Amazon)—especially when saving scans to searchable PDF files. Fast, single-pass scanning and swift saving to a usable file format, as well as built-in networking, easily elevate the ScanJet Pro 4500 to our Editors’ Choice for a flatbed document scanner for low-to-medium-volume scanning in a small office or workgroup.

Read the entire review at PCMag