Feb 13, 2013
Part one: Handling and unpacking the device
On Monday, HP announced the worldwide release of the Officejet Pro X line of page-wide business inkjet devices. According to HP’s press release, the X551dw and X576dw models are now the world’s fastest desktop printers as recognized by the Guinness Book of World Records (they can print up to 70 pages per minute in general office mode, and 42 pages per minute in professional mode).
Other benefits of the new devices include a standard 500-sheet main paper tray, automatic two-sided printing, quick-drying pigment inks, and a cost per page that’s up to 50 percent lower than that of many color laser devices.
These devices have the potential to be disruptive for the office print industry. Traditionally, laser devices have dominated the office landscape, but HP’s new page-wide technology has the capacity to significantly change attitudes (and perhaps purchase behavior) toward ink in the office. InfoTrends explores this topic in a recent primary research study titled Is Inkjet Printing Technology Ready to Transform the Office Printing Environment?
InfoTrends was pleased to receive a demo unit of the Officejet Pro X576dw model, an MFP (print, copy, scan, fax) with an MSRP of $799/€849. Over the next couple of weeks, we will be publishing blog posts about our experiences with the device in our own office.
Our company is not an independent testing firm (e.g. we do not do print performance timing, dot magnification), so our evaluation will be based on a “real-world” experience of using the device in a day-to-day office environment. As most users aren’t sitting next to the printer with a stopwatch, or inspecting output with a magnifying glass, this approach should be more in-tune with the actual experience of customers.
To kick off our series, this post will focus on the experience of handling and unpacking the box containing the device and accessories.
Below is an image of the box inside my cubicle. I was immediately struck by its large size (about two feet in each direction) and plain brown color, which both contrast with the inkjet packaging I’m familiar with. I could tell from the get-go that the printer size and packaging seem to have more in common with office laser equipment than consumer and small business inkjets. Given that many people have concerns about the performance and reliability of inkjet technology, the development of larger and sturdier inkjet devices seems like a good first step toward changing perceptions.
The brown background and simple graphics suggest that this product is not considered for any kind of retail display (reinforced by the large size of the box). It appears this device is being positioned as a B2B product that will be sold through the reseller/VAR channel in addition to HP’s direct sales force.
The box’s large size makes it somewhat cumbersome to handle, but with the help of a wheeled cart my colleague Chris was able to easily move the box to the copy room.
Currently, our main copy room (not sure why we still call it a copy room—it hasn’t housed a single-function copier for years!) has two printers connected to the network—an HP color LaserJet 4600 single-function printer and an HP b&w LaserJet 4345 MFP. One of our IT guys—Bill—plans to set up a number of colleagues so they can use the new device as well. In a later blog post, we will discuss their reactions to the new device, though it is important to keep in mind their feedback will not be scientific (we’ll leave that work to the official product testers of the world).
In addition, it’s important to note that the X576dw is not being positioned as a replacement to these types of LaserJet devices. In fact, HP has explicitly compared the devices to laser machines in the sub-$800 price category. It is just that in our office these are the devices we have.
As Chris cut the tape at the top of the box, Bill joined us in the copy room. He was there to help me remove items from the box and set up the printer. We opened the top flaps of the box and here’s what we saw.
I have to say I was a little surprised to see polystyrene foam used to protect the device, given HP’s leadership in a variety of “green” areas, and its usage of cardboard in other packaging. Nevertheless, HP’s website does indicate that “eliminating materials of concern” from their product packaging is a special focus; they are moving from polystyrene foam to molded pulp made from recycled paper when feasible.
We would hope that HP is also planning to transition away from the plastic material covering the printer. We know they are using an “attractive reusable bag” for other products (e.g. the ENVY100 e-All-in-One printer); perhaps this could be extended to their page-wide inkjet devices as well.
HP is promoting a number of the new device’s “green” features, including its Energy Star designation, low operating and standby power requirements, and low typical energy consumption (partly due to the lack of fuser required for toner-based printing technologies). It would be nice if they could add even more environmentally friendly packaging to this list as well.
After opening the box, we removed the power cord, modem cable, and installation CD. We won’t need the modem cable (it’s for fax; we do not have a phone line enabled in the copy room) but the other two items will certainly come in handy.
Next we removed a small pack of HP “ColorLok” paper that is designed to enhance print quality (according to the cover sheet, the paper delivers “bolder blacks,” “vivid colors,” “faster drying,” and “enhanced recyclability”), an installation guide, and a sheet of paper with support information. Regarding the ColorLok paper, it will be interesting to see how the output compares to that of plain office paper. Once again, though, we must reiterate that our evaluation will not be scientific—but instead an assessment based on our day-to-day use of the product.
It is also worth noting the small size of the installation guide (which is shown upside-down beneath the support sheet). At just 11 pages, it contains the key instructions for setting up the printer. Bill was certainly a fan of its brevity, saying “you don’t get confused looking through all types of stuff.” For the full user manual, users can go online.
After breaking through the plastic wrap covering the printer, Bill lifted the printer onto a table—noting how light it is compared to our LaserJet models (the new device weighs 53 pounds compared to the 4600 printer’s 80 pounds and the 4345 MFP’s 97 pounds, though it’s important to remember the 4345 has a second paper tray and our Officejet Pro X device does not). Next we removed pieces of blue tape that held everything in place during transit.
In the back of the printer, we found a box containing four “setup” ink cartridges (yellow, cyan, magenta, and black)—each with a page yield of up to 2,400 pages. These are fairly consistent with the page yields for the standard cartridges (3,000 pages for b&w, 2,500 pages for color), which have street prices of $74.99/$78.99—resulting in CPCs of 2.5 cents and 11.9 cents. The better deal is provided by the high-yield cartridges, which have yields of 9,200 pages (b&w) and 6,600 pages (color), street prices of $119.99, and CPCs of 1.3 cents and 6.8 cents. Our research indicates that many laser device users are reluctant to use inkjet technology due to perceptions of ink-related problems so it will be interesting to see how this system performs.
The next photo shows the X576dw beside our b&w HP LaserJet device. As you can see, it is a little more compact, although as mentioned earlier the laser device does have two paper trays. You’ll also notice that the Officejet Pro X device is relatively large for an inkjet machine—largely due to the design of the paper path (the L-shaped design minimizes bends—contributing to the fast printing speed). This greater resemblance to laser devices reminds us somewhat of Xerox solid ink machines, which do not suffer the same biases as liquid inkjet technology.
These photos pretty much sum up the experience of handling and unpacking the box. Overall, the experience was very easy and straightforward. The next steps are setting up and testing out the printer, which will likely be more involved processes.
Contributing analysts: Zac Butcher and Barbara Richards
More blogs from Christine Dunne