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Wednesday, 31 August 2016 13:27

HP’s blazingly fast, economical PageWide Pro 577dw MFP (review)

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Earlier this year HP refreshed it page wide, OfficeJet Pro X series renaming them PageWide. It is a proven ink technology that is fast replacing lasers in commercial use.

PageWide means just that – instead of four smaller ink cartridges buzzing back and forth over the paper these use four stationary, page wide (C,M,Y,K) cartridges that print the whole page width at once. The result is far fewer moving parts, far greater speeds and amongst the lowest print and total costs of ownership of any high volume printer.

I have been using its predecessor the 576dw since mid-2013, and I don’t mind repeating my review summary of that, “I don’t often get excited, but this new page wide inkjet printing technology is a clear winner regarding reliability and speed.” Since then it has handled everything with aplomb.

The new PageWide series is just as rugged and reliable but has lost the “Sherman Tank” grey look and is a more fashionable with cream and grey highlights.

What is so good about PageWide?

PageWide is the inkjet equivalent of the laser in term of quality of print and cost per page. The 10 staggered, slightly overlapping green strips on the head contain the clusters of ink nozzles. Each strip is an array of 1056 nozzles for each of the four ink colours, totalling 4224 nozzles per die and 42,240 nozzles as a whole.

HP PageWide print head

Over the past two years, I have become familiar with some small to medium enterprises that have installed them, so it was time to check running costs and other issues.

One legal firm has five of them replacing lasers. To paraphrase, these 50 page per minute (colour or black) printers have regularly done up to 10,000 pages per month, and one has reached more than a quarter of a million pages without fault. The duplex scanning is faultless. But the real advantage is ink cost – using the “X” high capacity cartridges they achieve an average of well under two cents per page in mono (its main use) and colour is not much more (estimated at around five cents but not specifically measured as its main use for colour is for document logos etc). Plus, this firm has never had issues with downtime as it did with lasers.

So on with the review.

Out of the damned heavy (26.39kg) box – the HP PageWide Pro MFP 577

It is a largish multi-function device (print, scan copy, fax) at 530 (w) x 407 (d) x 467mm (h) and 22.15kg but fits nicely on a standard 600mm office bench. The slide out, 500-sheet, paper tray is accessed from the front, the manual feed slot is on the left side (allow room if you want to use this for heavier stock feed) and A4 paper exits to the right but fits wholly within the footprint.

Connectivity is via an Ethernet port (IPv4 or v6), Wi-Fi N, USB 2.0, Flash Drive (with native docx and ppt) or NFC. But that is just a way to access the network. What is impressive is the range of mobile and cloud print features including HP ePrint, HP Mobile Apps, Google Cloud Print v2, Apple AirPrint, Mopria-certified, Android Plug-in, Windows 8/10, Mobile, and Chromebook. In short, I could not find a device that could not access it, and it even provides a dedicated email address to print to if you need it.

Initial setup takes about 20 minutes where it will update firmware and initialise the cartridges. You also need to install drivers and software available for Linux, macOS, Windows (all versions back to XP and Server), SAP or Unix.

The software is essentially on-line Help, OCR, and dashboard utilities (HP Printer Assistant) for scanning, etc. It is built for remote management (EWS - Embedded Web Server) by a system administrator or for personal setup. Not that you need it, but HP has a handy Print and Scan Doctor for Windows that is useful if you have any issues – it is good for non-tech types as it will update drivers, troubleshoot firewalls, etc. The amount of information in the EWS and Printer Assistant is amazing.

Scan/copy – duplex or single sided, 50 sheet Auto-document feed (ADF) or place on the glass.

Scanning features are huge

  • Scan-to E-mail with LDAP email address lookup
  • Scan-to Network Folder
  • Scan-to-USB
  • Scan-to MS SharePoint
  • Scan-to Computer with SW

Speed is 26 inches per minute in either single or double sided (counts as two pages) at up to 1200 dpi and outputs in Bitmap (.bmp), JPEG (.jpg), PDF (.pdf), PNG (.png), Rich Text (.rtf), Searchable PDF (.pdf), Text (.txt), and TIFF (.tif).

You can scan via the Print Assistant, EWS, or front LCD panel. It has scaling from 25% to 400%

Fax – does anyone still use it?

Fax has made a comeback for secure document transmission. The high-speed fax has up to 100 pages (mono) memory, will send from the ADF or glass, and supports things like forwarding, polling, auto-answer, handset and TAM use, and junk fax barring. You can also Fax to a network folder, email, computer, etc.

Print – damned fast

HP 577 kitPerhaps the most impressive thing is the first page out happens in about 6 seconds. After that, it will spit out at up to 70ppm in draft and 50ppm in mono or colour – no speed difference. Duplex is about half the speed.

Print speed does, however, depend on the complexity of the content. In tests, I achieved 50ppm for Word-based mono text and around 20ppm for more complex PDF presentation materials.

It is designed for A4 (210 x 297mm) and has a maximum print area of 201.6 x 347.1 mm. Typical margins are 4.2mm all round.

Tray 2 – default – is 500 pages of A4, 80gsm copy paper but it will also handle up to 50 sheets via the manual feed for other media like photo paper, card, envelopes, and labels.

Output capacity is 300 sheets A4. You can add up to two more 500 sheet trays or buy the 577Z model as shown above.

I tested in draft (ecoSMART), and normal (every day), on copy paper (80gsm), matte paper (120gsm), photo (180gsm) and other media up to 220gsm and all prints were commensurate with laser output.

No, it is not a great glossy photo printer but it is perfect for presentations and produces excellent colours on the matte and coated paper. There is a setting for maximum DPI, and you can adjust sRGB gamma - it was very good.

You can also add watermarks and auto-scale to fit the paper used.

It has a booklet print mode that will print A5 or A4 booklets and flip pages for left or right binding or collation.

Security – any IoT device can be infected

In a network sense it supports all major authentication and access controls. It can be fitted with badge readers etc. It can proof and hold print jobs (to the extent of the memory and a hard disk model is available).

4.3” Touchscreen

The 4.3” touchscreen display is larger than the average and allows for greater ease of use. For example, you can print modern Microsoft Word and PowerPoint documents directly from a USB device, with simple and fast controls. It is logically laid out, and you can easily access all printer functions.

HP 577 lcd usb

Conclusion

This is the second generation, and it has refined what was the class leading inkjet. Subtle styling, nicer looks, great print quality easily meeting laser quality and very competitive costs. It is also eco-friendly at a fraction of the running cost of a laser.

PageWide is not for home use – its cost at $949 dictates that. Nor is the technology going to come down in price – in fact, there are several models above this that take it to the top of enterprise use.

But if you print even 1000 pages (two reams) a month it will only take several months to recoup your purchase price over a cheaper inkjet – TCO over its life is so much better than lower cost inkjets and even lasers.

I am going to give this a 4.5 out of five – nothing is perfect. But you will find the online “printer supermarkets” are already discounting it around $730, and that makes it a five out of five.

If you want almost the same feature and performance, then look at the HP PageWide Pro MFP 477dw for $799 (about $530 if you shop around).

 

 

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Ray Shaw ray@im.com.au  has a passion for IT ever since building his first computer in 1980. He is a qualified journalist, hosted a consumer IT based radio program on ABC radio for 10 years, has developed world leading software for the events industry and is smart enough to no longer own a retail computer store!