We suspect that most small businesses and home offices might not realize the benefits of owning a wide-format, or ledger-size, all-in-one (AIO) printer. (Ledger paper measures 11×17 inches; it’s perhaps more commonly known as “tabloid.”) As we’ve said in previous reviews of wide-format printers, though, once you’ve owned one, you’ll probably find yourself wondering how you got along without it. The ability to print oversize pages provides a wealth of options, such as the ability to print multipage booklets and brochures, as well as large drawings, diagrams, and spreadsheets, that are simply unavailable on standard letter-size printers.
Over the past few years, we’ve seen a few printer makers, notably Brother and Epson, debut consumer or home-office-grade wide-format printers. Some, such as the Brother MFC-J4610DW, allow you to print only one oversize page at a time, via a manual-feed slot; others, such as the Epson WorkForce WF-7520 and Brother MFC-J6920DW, not only let you print multiple 11×17-inch pages in succession (just as you would letter-size documents), but they also enable you to scan, copy, and fax these big documents.
That first option—printing tabloid pages manually, one at a time—is suitable for only very short print runs or occasional “convenience” printing, and therefore quite limiting. If you want to do some serious wide-format printing, though, a much wiser choice might be a machine like the one we’re reviewing here today: HP’s $249.99-list Officejet 7610 Wide Format e-All-in-One. It, like a few other wide-format inkjet AIOs we’ve reviewed, comes with a relatively large ledger-size input tray (in this case, 250 pages) that allows you to print multipage oversize documents, or lots of copies of the same big document, without having to babysit the printer or feed it a sheet at a time. It also prints really big 13×19 pages; more on that later.
While we found a bunch of reasons to like this printer, among them its great print quality and relatively economical cost per page (when using the right ink tanks), we were a bit perplexed that the Officejet 7610 comes with only one paper-input source. This, of course, means that you’ll have to empty and reconfigure the paper tray each time you change paper sizes. Its two closest competitors, the abovementioned Epson WorkForce WF-7520 and Brother MFC-J6920DW, on the other hand, each have two paper drawers, so you can keep one loaded with the ledger paper and the other with, presumably, letter-size. In addition, both the Epson and Brother models have multiple slots for flash-memory cards, allowing for printing from and scanning to camera media. This Officejet, in contrast, only has a port for USB flash drives. (We’ll discuss this and other types of PC-free printing in the Design section on the next page.)
We should pause here to point out that, while this Officejet’s list price of $250 is about average for a consumer inkjet AIO (judging by the prices of the Epson and Brother ledger-size AIOs mentioned above), you may be able to find it much cheaper. When we wrote this in early March 2014, HP was offering the Officejet 7610 for sale directly via its Web site at a steep discount at various times, for $179.99 and even for a while at $149.99. Therefore, the question becomes, is the convenience provided by the second paper drawer—the ability to print to different media sizes with just a couple of mouse clicks, without taking the printer out of service to change the paper—worth an extra $70 to $100?
If dual paper drawers (and flash-memory-card support) were all you gave up, well, then yes, we’d say that at $150 to $180, HP’s Officejet 7610 is a good value, assuming you’d be using it mostly for its wide-format functionality. At that price, most homes or small businesses could justify purchasing it as a second, dedicated wide-format AIO, to supplement a letter-size inkjet or laser printer. However, compared to the Brother MFC-J6920DW, the Officejet 7610 has a few other—and somewhat glaring—shortcomings. For one, its automatic document feeder (ADF) can’t scan two-sided pages without you flipping them over manually. Also, its CPPs are significantly higher, especially when printing black-and-white pages. (We’ll look at this AIO’s ADF and per-page operational cost in the Setup & Paper Handling section, a little later in this review.)
Aside from the confining single input drawer and manual-duplexing ADF, we like this printer: It’s attractive and well-built, and it churns out great-looking prints, copies, and scans. It’s not nearly as nimble and versatile as the competition, though. We like it a lot more at its limited-time $150 HP-direct price, but we could really get behind it, with an enthusiastic “buy” recommendation, at, say, a $129 street price.
Read entire review at Computer Shopper.