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, 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. 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, the WorkForce WF-7620 All-in-One, and the WorkForce ET-16500 EcoTank Wide-Format All-in-One Supertank. 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


 

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Expose of 802.11ax from Digital TrendsBefore the current Wi-Fi standard, called 802.11ac, wireless broadband was never quite robust enough: Too many devices were vying for your limited, inefficiently distributed bandwidth. This latest standard has proven faster and more reliable, and WiGig and mesh networking will help. But with the ever-increasing proliferation of Wi-Fi devices — PCs, smartphones, tablets, webcams, printers, wearables, refrigerators, and more — it won’t be long until we’re playing catch up again.

According to estimates by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, the number of internet-connected gadgets for an average family of four is now at 10 per household. The cross-government trade group estimates that number will reach 50 wirelessly connected devices by 2022 — all competing for the same bandwidth, over the same connection.

The 6th generation of Wi-Fi has been certified.

“The Wi-Fi device and traffic explosion, higher density Wi-Fi deployments, growing use of outdoor Wi-Fi, and the need to support a great variety of different device types will require more efficient Wi-Fi implementations that can help to deliver richer experiences for enterprise and consumer applications that are hungry for bandwidth,” according to Andrew Zignani, Senior Analyst at ABI Research.

The good news in all this is that the people who tend to Wi-Fi standards haven’t been idle. The 6th generation of Wi-Fi, 802.11ax, has been certified, and new products based on the standard are underway. Broadcom, a maker of circuit boards and other gizmos that drive today’s information technology, has just announced Max Wifi, the first 802.11ax chips designed for use in routers for homes and businesses, as well as wireless gadgets such as smartphones and tablets.

The need for massive increases in bandwidth and throughput is upon us. The question is, is 802.11ax enough, or is it too little too late?

Read the entire article at Digital Trends


 

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Editors' Choice

  • PROS

    Fast scanning. Excellent optical-character-recognition (OCR) accuracy. Massive input capacity. Supports tabloid-size and larger pages. Robust, easy-to-use software.

  • CONS

    Slow at saving to searchable PDF.

  • BOTTOM LINE

    The Kodak i3300 is a fast, high-volume document scanner, and it comes with excellent full-featured scanning and processing software at a competitive price.

Positioned between the Editors’ Choice Kodak i3250 and the highly capable Kodak i3500, the Kodak i3300 Scanner ($4,495) is one of Kodak Alaris’ i3000 series of heavy-duty, high-volume document scanners. Like several of its siblings, the i3300 quickly and accurately scans one-and two-sided documents up to tabloid-size (11-by-17 inches) and beyond. Compared with some other document scanners we’ve tested, it’s a bit slow when scanning to searchable PDF, but not enough so to detract from its suitability for midsize-to-large document-management systems. That makes it a highly sensible choice—and our new top pick—as a wide-format high-volume document scanner for large workgroups and medium-size offices.
Read the entire article at PCMag

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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


 

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Review of the Canon imageClass LBP251dw at PCMag

  • PROS

    Outstanding print quality. Respectable print speed. Low price. Two paper-input sources. Expandable paper-input capacity. Relatively small and light. Department ID Manager feature lets you control access by user or group of users.

  • CONS

    Slightly high running costs. No memory-drive support.

  • BOTTOM LINE

    Canon’s imageClass LBP251dw monochrome laser prints terrific-looking text, graphics, and grayscale photos at a respectable speed for the price, but lower running costs would increase its overall value.

A direct competitor to the Dell Smart Printer S2830dn, our Editors’ Choice entry-level monochrome laser printer, the Canon imageClass LBP251dw ($209) comes close to the Dell model in print speed, print quality and features, and its list price is $70 less. But it falls a little short in one key area—the per-page cost of toner. This may seem insignificant, but if you print a few thousand pages or so each month, even a 1-cent difference in the cost per page (CPP) will cost you significantly over the life of the printer, far more than that $70 price difference. Otherwise, the LBP251dw is an outstanding low-priced monochrome laser printer, making it an excellent alternative to the Dell S2830dn for low-to-moderate volume output in a home-based or small office, or as a personal monochrome laser printer.
Read the entire review at PCMag

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Editors' Choice

  • PROS

    Fast output. Good print quality. Excellent label design, print software, and mobile apps. Prints two-color, black/red labels. Good selection of label types. Good value for the price.

  • CONS

    Per-label media cost is somewhat high. Ability to print in red limited to one label type.

  • BOTTOM LINE

    The Brother QL-800 prints several sizes of high-quality label types from your PC, Mac, or Android mobile device via USB, making it an excellent value for its relatively low price.

Like its higher-end QL-810W and QL-820NWB siblings, the Brother QL-800 ($99.99) is a reasonably fast label printer that churns out good-looking labels in several different types and sizes, ranging from small one-line barcodes, to address labels, and everything in between. It can print labels up to about 0.5 inch wide by 1 inch long to 2.4 inches wide by 36 inches long.
Read entire review at PCMag

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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, 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—memory 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 and the five-ink Epson Expression Photo XP-860 Small-in-One.

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—the ability to print good-looking photographs for literally a few pennies each—is 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


 

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Op-Ed on the new Bluetooth Mesh protocol at Digital TrendsYes, current Wi-Fi-based smart home technology can turn on the lights with your smartphone or voice. But do you call that home automation, really? Isn’t it just a slightly more convenient light switch?

How about this? When you unlock your front door, the lights in the foyer come on, the motion sensors on your alarm system turn off, the thermostat starts the air conditioning, and your entertainment system begins playing your favorite music—all before you put your keys down!

Now that’s home automation, right?

What about a more serious, or potentially life-and-death scenario, where hospital staff could track patients, staff members, and equipment from any console, PC, or tablet on the premises?

While the best Wi-Fi systems allow us to take baby steps into building automation, wireless security, asset tracking, and more, a new technology called Bluetooth Mesh — an update to the standard Bluetooth wireless solution that most of us know — promises a better, more efficient, and much less expensive solution.

“As people’s expectations for networks go up, they demand networks capable of handling hundreds (or thousands) of IP addresses, offering Wi-Fi-level of signal performance across the house and building,” Daniel Cooley, Senior Vice President of Silicon Labs, told Digital Trends. “People won’t put up with flaky Wi-Fi anymore. If they can get away with fewer antennas, it would be much better.”

Cooley is a member of the Bluetooth Special Interest Group, or SIG, which oversees and develops Bluetooth technology. If he’s right—and industry watchers and makers of networking equipment are betting that he is—many aspects of our lives will soon be secured and simplified by this latest Bluetooth update.

Read the entire article at Digital Trends


 

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Review of the HP DeskJet 2655 All-in-One at Computer ShopperThe other day we stated that, at $59.99, HP’s DeskJet 3755 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.

HP DeskJet 2655 (Right Angled Blue)

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.

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, 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, 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


 

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  • Editors' ChoicePROS

    Fast print speeds. Good print quality. Multiple network and mobile connectivity options. Excellent label design. Great print software and mobile app. Prints in black and red. Operates as standalone label maker and printer with optional battery.

  • CONS

    Consumables somewhat costly on a per-label basis. Battery costs extra. Ability to print in red limited to one label type.

  • BOTTOM LINE

    The Brother QL-820NWB is a feature-rich label maker capable of churning out professional-looking output quickly and efficiently.

Recently, Brother announced the QL-800-series as new additions to its stable of professional label printers, which includes the flagship model, the QL-820NWB ($199.99), reviewed here. The QL-820NWB is similar in many ways to its QL-720NW predecessor in that it’s networkable and it comes with highly capable software. It’s also well-integrated with mobile devices, and it comes with a robust set of features and options, such as a broad assortment of printable media, the ability to print two-color labels, and an add-on rechargeable battery. Flexibility, a rich feature set, wide-ranging PC and mobile device integration, and a wide selection of label media elevates the QL-820NWB to our new top pick for a networkable professional label printer.

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