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Real World Review: HP Printers

Volume Number: 25 (2009)
Issue Number: 01
Column Tag: Real World Reviews

Real World Review: HP Printers

As with many MacTech articles, we focused on a real world experience to get a good handle on the issues of why you'd use one printer technology over another. This is vastly more revealing than just throwing a printer on a test bench, and playing with it for a couple of hours. For this article, we focused on a single manufacturer so that we had a more consistent basis for comparison. In this case, we used a wide variety of HP printers in real life use, some of which are below here. Prices listed are list prices, and there are many deals and rebates out there that make these printers a whole lot more affordable than even these prices.

HP Photosmart A636. We looked at an earlier model (the A716). This printer is super small (less than 10 inches wide and about 3 pounds). Pictures are average quality, but this is a great portable printer if you need it. It uses a tri-color cartridge which saves on space, but is less efficient. Size and portability definitely the reasons to get this printer. $150

HP Photosmart D5460. We looked at the D5160 predecessor, but this printer is a solid photo printer that can print CD/DVDs (a definite win). It too combines color into a single cartridge which puts it at the lower end of photo quality. We particularly like the really good looking CD/DVD printing that it can do which makes a huge impact when you hand a disc with a nice color image right on the disc. $99

HP Photosmart Pro B9180. An awesome pro level photo printer that allows for a wide variety of ink colors, paper sizes/types, and has an Ethernet connection to share it. This unit has four separate print heads, and eight ink cartridges to really focus on quality photo printing. Paper sizes up to 13 x 19 in. Clearly, if you are a pro level photographer, this is the type of printer that you need to move towards for quality of the print, as well as the paper options. $700

HP OfficeJet Pro L7780 or L7680 (without the extra paper tray). This is an awesome MFP inkjet. A great solution to share at home or in a small office. Lower printing cost per page than the color lasers. Networkable printing, faxing, and scanning. Decent quality photos. This is simply one of our favorite printers in the pack, and one of our most used in real world usage. $500 (L7680: $400).

HP LaserJet P1505. We looked at the previous 1022nw (which also had WiFi). This is an incredible printer. Low price. Fast. Networked making it easy to share. A real work horse for B&W laser printing. Along with the L7780, one of our most used printers. We strongly recommend a printer like this in your stable if you do any quantity of printing. $250

HP Color LaserJet CP1518. It's amazing to think of getting a color laser for so little cost. Toners can be expensive, so think through your supply costs. We ended up using this printer less in real world usage because as a color laser, it doesn't handle photos as well as an inkjet. That said, if you are doing business class documents and handouts, it's a vastly better way to go than an inkjet for it's text crispness on the page, and durability of the print. $400

HP LaserJet P3005. If you print a lot of B&W, this can be your type of solution. Larger paper trays and output is the biggest advantage over the P1505. Really targetd for the workgroup and larger settings. But, many times, it may be easier to have two P1505's, or even bump up to the CM4730. That said, if you need a B&W laser in between, this is it. $550

Color LaserJet CM4730 Replaces the 4730mfp that we looked at. These are fabulous machines for the office. And, even at the larger tag, it replaces your B&W and color lasers, fax, copy machine, and scanner. Clearly our highest volume unit, and it's very capable. We routinely used this machine to print from remote offices, over the Internet, to the main office for everything from single page cover letters, to larger documents. If this printer fits your size, it's a solid work horse, and a welcome addition. $5000


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