The Officejet Pro X is to inkjet printers what the Prius is to traditional cars. While it looks a lot like all of the cars before it, the Prius completely redefined the core drivetrain and its power source, inventing a new category of car – the hybrid. In the same way, the Officejet Pro X completely redefines the core print system of an inkjet and its ink. Like the Prius, the Officejet Pro X defines a whole new class of printer in the marketplace.
It has been a little over a month of testing the Officejet Pro X576dw multifunction printer. The results are really impressive. First, this printer has lived up to the hype and marketing promises that it came with. It’s ink is something completely different – something revolutionary – for an inkjet and it offers superior durability. It prints with a speed comparable or better than laser printers in its class. It offers better cost per page costs for its owners. It delivers on features that enterprise will require and small business may not know to hope for.
Amazing Ink Durability
aka Prints You Just Can’t Destroy!
As I wrote in my introduction post, the Officejet Pro X features a new formula of ink that was developed by HP to be more durable than traditional inkjet ink. The new inks have a formula with more pigment and less water, meaning that prints of the printer come out dry to the touch and resist smearing and running when the page comes in contact with water or a highlighter, which has been one of the major complaints of inkjet prints. So, I decided to test the new ink in the worst possible ways I could imagine – by submerging printed pages and photos from the Officejet Pro X in the sink and seeing how the prints fared. I had seen a demo of this last year at HP Discover, but I thought that there was no way a page could survive under a running faucet. But I was absolutely wrong. As a matter of fact, it was such an amazing test, that I had to recreate it and film it. It is something you have to see with your own eyes. So, take a look at this video below where I take regular copy paper, normal photo paper and a page of HP’s Premium Glossy Photo paper and test them in the sink.
So what did I learn from my water testing? I’d highlight 3 things:
- Prints on standard paper are extremely durable. HP recommends ColorLok paper for superior color and clarity of prints, but even in my testing with the cheapest copy paper I could find on the shelf, the prints look fairly crisp and clear, but on cheap paper the prints do look dull. The prints on ColorLok paper look fantastic. HP ships about 20 pages worth of ColorLok paper for you to use and see the results. ColorLok, by the way, is not an HP brand but rather a brand from International Paper, so its not to HP’s benefit in recommending ColorLok.
- Glossy presentation and photo paper lend to incredible looking prints. The glossy page combined with the HP pigmented inks really stand out and the are very durable, surviving my intense water testing. If I were in sales, I would be foaming at the mouth to have one of these for customer presentations and leave-behind materials. For a small cost per page, you can produce incredible looking materials without the need for professional printing. Talking with HP, they tell me that they’ve had a lot of success using the Officejet Pro X for on demand printed materials at conferences and events internally and customers are adopting the same.
- The durability of photo prints has a lot to do with the type of paper. Semigloss and matte finishes tended not to endure my water test, however, the testing I did was pretty extreme. Still, I’d stick with HP’s recommended papers listed on the HP website under the supplies for PageWide array printers.
One really interesting story that I was told was about a mining company in South America. Where laser printers could not hold up in the damp and high humidity conditions of a mine, the HP Officejet Pro X is really doing well. While the printer wasn’t designed specifically for those operating conditions, its design along with the pigmented inks provide this mining company with a solution where laser printers had failed. After running prints under streams of running water, I can see why.
The ink seems more akin to what you’d find from commercial printing companies, offering durability and resisting water unlike anything I’ve seen with a home, ink printer. But that may be the only disappointment for the Officejet Pro X. At this point, there aren’t color matching controls that would allow this printer to be used by graphic designers and agencies – not the type to ensure color matching to Pantone colors or swatches. I really see that as a huge potential market and perhaps HP will bring these kinds of color matching to the line so that it can address the needs of graphics professionals.
Blistering Fast Print Speeds
One of the features that was most highly touted were the print speeds of this inkjet printer. Inkjets, generally work with a reciprocating print head that moved back and forth across the page, printing one line at a time. The OfficeJet Pro X uses a PageWide print head that had nozzles across a page width of area and can deliver blistering fast prints. In fact, there are a lot of black and white Laser printers that don’t print as fast as the OfficeJet Pro X when printing full color, normal prints. Again, to illustrate this, I thought a video would be the best possible way to convey the results I found in testing. I could write about it, but its really something you need to see to understand.
One of the things the HP team told me during my briefing on the product was that the General Office Mode prints were still a very high quality and that the development team worked hard to ensure that even the fast prints were still crisp and clear. There is a bit more over-spray and jaggedness to the individual letters of printed documents in General Office Mode, but you have to get close to the page to really notice it. The ability to achieve over 70 pages per minute in full color is incredible.
One other thing I noticed from a speed perspective is that even pages with lots of graphics print very quickly, usually without any noticeable delay, unlike laser printers. Sometimes on a complex image, Laser printers will stop and process the image before printing the page, significantly slowing down the printing process. The Officejet Pro X didn’t seem to suffer from the same issue.
There are actually even two more printing modes for the Officejet Pro X – Presentation mode and Maximum DPI mode. To a normal user, I could not tell a difference between these two modes. They were both extremely high quality prints and looked fantastic. Maximum DPI mode seemed to be selectable in the driver when paired with HP Premium Photo paper as the media, while Presentation mode is available on plain paper as well as glossy presentation paper and other media.
In testing, I found that printing slows down when duplexing due to having to change paper path and print the other side. The same goes for moving up to a higher quality of print. As the video illustrates, one of my test documents was a 24 page text document with full color images on several pages and colored headings. This document took just 23 seconds to print in General Office Mode and about 35 seconds to print in Professional mode (5 seconds until first page and then 30 seconds of print time).
Copies are slower than print jobs, also. But the quality of the copies was excellent. As a matter of fact, I put an original print and a copy side by side and if I didn’t know which was which, I would not have been able to tell a difference. The automatic document feeder had a tendency to feed in pages slightly crooked. It didn’t happen all the time, but the more pages in the document feeder, the more often this would happen.
At the same time, I have not experienced a single print misfeed while testing – which is a big thing. With pages moving so quickly through the printer in General Office mode, I can’t believe that i have not had a single misfeed for the print path, but it hasn’t occurred. That’s not to say it couldn’t, but in printing several reams of paper in testing, there hasn’t been a single print misfeed.
Other Functions of a Multifunction Printer
The Officejet Pro X line are all different variations of a multifunction printer. The touch control panel is extremely responsive and responds well to touch commands including swipes to scroll between screens. Handy shortcut icons lines the top of the home screen, including network settings and ink level buttons. There is a shortcut for ECO settings that let you adjust screen brightness, set two-sided fax and copy prints, standby and sleep times for the printer. There is a shortcut button for ePrint and for fax settings. All of the same settings are available from the full Settings menu also. The display is intuitive and easy to use.
On Windows, the model specific HP software and drivers worked extremely well for scanning. On Mac, the scanning integrated with Image Capture and worked well. Apple’s automatic driver discovery downloaded the print drivers specifically for the Officejet Pro X and the printer also worked with AirPrint driver enabled. The HP Universal print driver worked extremely well with the printer. This is a huge plus for enterprise and business customers who don’t want to maintain lots of different driver versions and who want to avoid compatibility issues on their print servers.
Scanning, both from the document feeder or flat bed, produces very clear scans. The software on the computer, both PC and Mac, worked extremely well for initiating scans and controlling the settings of the capture. Beyond scanning controls from the computer, the touch screen display also provides users with a lot of control from the printer itself. This is particularly helpful in shared office environments where the printer may be around the corner. Administrators can setup file share locations, computers and even email where scans may be routed with easy touch controls on the front panel. The printer also features two USB ports (one below the touchscreen panel and one on the back of the printer) that can be used as a destination for scans also. Configuration of network locations and computers to route scans is very simple from the web-based control panel or the HP utilities that ship with the printer.
Direct & Secure Printing
In addition to writing to USB devices, the printer can print directly from USB for recognized formats using the “Plug and Print” option in the touch controls. The USB port on the back of the printer is a USB 2.0 port and it can be used as a temporary location for confidential print jobs to be stored and then retrieved and printed once you’re standing at the printer. This is a hugely popular feature for shared printers, because you never want your co-worker looking at your paystub when you print it to a shared printer (or some other situation like that).
One Touch Apps (News & Forms)
Also, while talking about the touch screen controls, you have to look at the Apps section of the controls. This section allows you to select from a number of web services delivered through hpeprintcenter.com that allow you to print common forms, daily news or many other things directly from the web, all without a computer. Need music paper or graph paper, the OfficeJet Pro X can print that without you ever needing to search and find a template. The ForbesDaily or TimesDigest apps allows you to print the latest newspaper or even schedule a daily print of news delivered directly to the printer, just like your daily paper used to be delivered to your doorstep. With the decline of newspaper, this is a really nifty use for printing your news on-demand. Oh and the TimesDigest (from the New York Times) even includes the crossword…
Network configuration is straightforward and simple. The touchscreen controls make it a breeze to join an existing WiFi network, even a password protected one. Connecting Ethernet is even easier. The printer will obtain and address from DHCP or you may specify a static IP address easily through the web control panel or HP Utility on the computer.
Another huge plus is the number of pages you’ll get per cartridge. The ink consumables of the Officejet Pro X are priced around $75 per color retail, but in all my thousands of pages of testing, I have barely moved the mark on any of the 4 ink wells, so in my experience, you’ll see thousands of pages per cartridge before needing to refill.
Disclaimer: HP provided the OfficeJet Pro X576dw MFP to me free of charge for review and a second unit to giveaway. HP in no way influenced or had any editorial control over the views, opinions and conclusions that came to in the course of testing the printer.