Category: Printers and Scanners

Brother introduces an inkjet printer that implements landscape paper feed to achieve a compact size

Article

Brother crams all-in-one functionality into a pint-size package for Business Smart series – Engadget

From the horse’s mouth

Brother USA

Press Release (PDF)

My Comments

I was reading the Engadget article about this Brother multifunction printer and found that this is another example of improving on the printer’s design. The previous examples I have seen and consider of note include the use of a “capillary” pipe system and front-loading ink cartridges to allow for a compact printer design, the design of A3 multifunction inkjet printers and designing compact colour LED printers that use four colour drums.

Typically a printer or multifunction prints in a portrait manner where the paper is fed in to the machine using the short edge. Then the print head works across that sheet along that edge. This has been the way to go for most printers because it was known not to be likely to jam but makes it hard for manufacturers to design a compact printer system with a reduced footprint.

What Brother has done with their latest “Business Smart” inkjet printers, headlined by the MFC-J4510DW is to implement landscape printing. This is where the paper is drawn in by the long edge and the print head moves across the long edge of the page. It has allowed them to design a very shallow machine that doesn’t need to occupy much desk space because the paper is held lengthways within the machine. Another advantage is to avoid the bulky look of paper trays that jut out from the front of the printer, which can be seen to make the machine look ugly.

Of course, the MFC-J4510DW which was cited in the article and the press release has the expectations of a current-specification business printer. These include network connectivity including Wi-Fi, low running costs due to availability of separate-colour cartridges including high-yield cartridges, app-assisted printing from mobile devices and auto-duplex printing which cuts down on paper used, prints documents that are more intuitive to read and opens up desktop-publishing possibilities. It can also print 11”x17” pages as long as the paper is fed in the bypass tray.

There are some limitations like the inability to print without borders when doing auto-duplex printing but I would expect for Brother to iron out these difficulties come the next iteration of this series.

Once these printers are released, it could be a chance for Brother to work further on compact printers that could appeal to particular applications where the narrow footprint is desired.

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Product Review–HP OfficeJet 6700 business colour inkjet multifunction printer

Introduction

I am reviewing the Hewlett-Packard OfficeJet 6700 Premium business colour inkjet multifunction printer. This is the successor to the OfficeJet 6500 series of network multifunction colour inkjets pitched as a SOHO or small-business printer and has a similar capability to these printers. They have money-saving functions like a four-cartridge ink system and automatic duplex printing as well as a Super Group 3 colour fax and automatic document feeder.

But this one, like the OfficeJet 6500a, also supports the HP ePrint ecosystem and Apple AirPrint abilities which allows email-to-print as well as app-driven walk-up printing. They also use a different cartridge to their predecessors but which cost similarly and have a similar page yield to these ones.

HP OfficeJet 6700 Premium business inkjet multifunction printer

Print Scan Copy Fax /
E-mail
Paper Trays Connections
Colour Colour Colour Colour 1xA4 USB 2.0
Ink-jet Resolution ID copy Super G3 Ethernet, 802.11g/n WPA2 WPS Wi-Fi
Auto-duplex Automatic document feeder HP ePrint receive

Prices

Printer

Recommended Retail Price: AUD$279

Inks and Toners

High-Capacity
Price Pages
Black AUD$49.12 1000
Cyan AUD$24.26 825
Magenta AUD$24.26 825
Yellow AUD$24.26 825

 

The printer itself

The HP OfficeJet 6700 is the typical size of a SOHO / small-business inkjet multifunction and, like most HP printers offered nowadays, has the paper concealed in a tray that is fully closed. It is not as well-built as the OfficeJet 8600 Series but is still well built as expected for an office printer.

Walk-up functions

HP OfficeJet 6700 Premium control panel detail

The touchscreen control panel

The OfficeJet can become a high-quality colour copier which can also support ID copy abilities. It also can become a colour fax machine which works to Super G3 fax standards.

The USB port on the front of the machine is for walk-up printing of photos held on memory keys or memory-card adaptors. It can support walk-up scanning of documents to the memory key but doesn’t support walk-up printing of PDF or similar documents. As well, it could benefit from working as a print device with PictBridge-enabled cameras.

The ePrint apps allows the printer to work as a “walk-up” stationery or newspaper printer and even has access to the various document repositories like DropBox so you can have documents available to “print on demand”.

Computer functions

The driver software setup was very quick and it didn’t need the printer to be fully awake for the computer to discover it. Even as the installer was loading the software on to my hard disk, the printer was being discovered as a destination device while it was in the dormant mode with just the standby light glowing.

The print driver doesn’t draw too much on the computer’s resources and is able to give a rough preview of how the print job would appear with the current settings. It even provides just the basic setup options with the ability to go to the advanced options by clicking the “Advanced” button. This tactic avoids the need to think of “hope I have set it up correctly” and can benefit those of us who may find the computer difficult to use. Similarly, the scanning function that is part of this driver responds properly to control-panel-initiated scanning and doesn’t take up too much resources.

Like nearly all HP network-capable printers, this printer supports the HP ePrint system which I have covered a lot on HomeNetworking01.info. This has the printer having its own email address so you can send documents to the printer at that address. It also has the ePrint Apps facility so you can turn out newspapers, forms and similar documents.

Print quality and useability

HP OfficeJet 6700 Premium front-load ink cartridges

Front-loading ink cartridges rather than lifting a heavy lid

Like its bigger brother the HP OfficeJet Pro 8600 Plus, the HP OfficeJet 6700 has a front-loading arrangement for the ink cartridges. This avoids the need to mess with a heavy lid when you need to change the inks. But the print area isn’t illuminated which may be of concern if you had to identify the location of a paper jam in the print path.

The speed in which a document is printed was very quick where it took only a few seconds to turn out one side of a document. The dwell time that has to occur between printing each side of a double-sided document was around a few seconds and could be capitalised on by slowly retracting the paper in to the duplexer while this occurs rather than pausing then retracting the paper.

Speaking of this, I did a registration test on the auto-duplex function to see whether there was any drifting when a double-sided document was printed. The duplex print of the “Stop The Traffik” download-to-print door-hanger was exact in such a way that you could print then cut out the document exactly. This is a bonus for those of us who do desktop publishing and want to print booklets, door hangers, luggage tags and other documents where an exact lineup between front and back are critical.

As I have observed from this, the printer has been very reliable with the basic print job which uses regular office paper. It didn’t matter whether the job was turned out on one side or both sides.

The HP OfficeJet 6700 has a problem with the scanner when it comes to handling bound documents like books. Here, the unit shows up paper-jam error messages relating to the automatic document feeder if the lid is partially open and allowed to rest on the document, usually to allow optimum copying of these documents.

The  HP has shown a problem with loading and handling photo-grade glossy paper and doesn’t even support this paper as far as the driver is concerned. I even noticed that it shown up “out-of-paper” error conditions when it tried to feed the glossy paper where I had set the driver for “other brochure papers”. However, it loses definition in some areas and is weak with some blue colours but is OK with other colours including flesh tones.

Limitations and Points Of Improvement

Being a cheaper printer, the HP OfficeJet 6700 has a smaller display which may affect useability with some older people.

The automatic document feeder could be worked on so as to allow the user to partially close the scanner lid when they scan or copy bound documents. As well, like many multifunction printers equipped with this feature, it could be able to handle till rolls and thermal receipts in varying conditions when users scan these as part of receipt reconcilement for tax or expense reimbursement.

Similarly, the HP OfficeJet 6700 could be set up to work reliably with glossy photo paper so as to handle photo printing tasks, which may be asked of in a SOHO environment.

The walk-up printing abilities could be improved with an SD card slot for camera SD cards, PictBridge support and / or the ability to print PDF and XPS files off the memory keys.

As far as connectivity goes, this printer should support IPv6 as this next Internet standard is becoming a “given” amongst business computing hardware and will be a standard for all network and Internet setups. Similarly, the fax could work as a T.37 / T.38 Internet fax endpoint as we move away from the traditional circuit-based telephony setup towards IP-based telephony.

Conclusion and Placement Notes

HP OfficeJet 6700 Premium multifunction printerI would recommend that people purchase the HP OfficeJet 6700 printer as an entry-level printer for small-office / home-office use where photo printing is not important but fax use is important. This is more so if you want to use a business-grade printer in your home because of its high-capacity ink cartridges.

It could also work well as a colour inkjet multifunction printer that you may use in your workplace as a secondary or “particular-user” printer. This may include applications like a reception-desk printer where you want one machine as a fax and ePrint endpoint.

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HP brings around the OfficeJet 150 mobile multifunction printer

Articles

HP introduces Officejet 150 all-in-one mobile printer, Photosmart 5520 — Engadget

My comments

As most of us know, desktop multifunction printers which have an integrated scanner have been around with us for a long time and are a popular primary-use printer type. They have worked well also as photocopiers and, in an increasing number of cases, fax machines which are more cost-effective than the cheap thermal-transfer plain-paper faxes that some small businesses use,

But this device class hasn’t become of benefit to the mobile user. Some of these users may require a document to be printed out for the customer to sign as part of the workflow such as a quote-acceptance or job-completion handover form. Here they don’t want to have a pile of these documents occupying space in the briefcase or van before they head “back to base” to process and file them.

Typically, these users either had to buy a mobile printer and a mobile scanner if they wanted to be able to print and scan hard-copy documents on the road. Canon previously offered a scanning attachment for their BJC-80 mobile printers but required the user to install the attachment in the printer if they wanted to scan.

But now HP have offered the OfficeJet 150 mobile multifunction printer which I see as a game changer. It can work in a similar manner to the direct-connect multifunction desktop printer and can link with a regular computer via USB or Bluetooth. Of course it has what used to be known as “three-way” power where it can be run from AC, a rechargeable battery pack or your vehicle’s cigar-lighter socket. Infact the unit does come with the rechargeable battery pack as well as the AC adaptor and the car adaptor can be obtained through HP.

There is the ability to perform driverless printing from PictBridge-enabled cameras and selected (non-Apple) smartphones. But if this is to work with most mobile devices, HP could modify the ePrint Home & Biz app to use Bluetooth as well as Wi-Fi wireless for the device connection. Similarly this printer doesn’t support Apple’s AirPrint ecosystem for their iOS devices because this technology is pitched at network connectivity as the main link.

On the other hand, HP could develop and supply an “ePrint / AirPrint” kit with an 802.11n Wi-Fi interface that connects to this printer. This could be set to work as a wireless network adaptor for existing Wi-Fi networks or as an access point for quick-set-up arrangements where there isn’t a wireless router in place.

As I have read through the press material on this device, the HP OfficeJet 150, like all mobile inkjet printers that have been released so far, is a two-cartridge colour printer. This means that colour printing can be very costly on these setups because if you run out of one colour, you have to throw away a cartridge that has plenty of the other colours. This class of printer could be improved upon with the use of a four-cartridge colour printing setup in order to provide the same level of economy as a well-bred desktop multifunction inkjet printer.

What I see of this is an effort to provide tradesmen, travelling salesmen and other similar workers with a lightweight portable device that works with workflows that require heavy use of hard copy and quick-turnaround documents.

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Product Review–Brother DCP-J925DW multifunction printer

Introduction

I am reviewing the Brother DCP-J925DW multifunction printer which is part of Brother’s newest run of A4 inkjet all-in-one printers that are destined for the home and home office. There are variants of this model that have integrated fax functionality.

Brother DCP-J925DW multi-function printer

Print Scan Copy Paper Trays Connections
Colour Colour Colour 1 x A4, 1 x 4×6” photo USB 2.0
Piezoelectric Ink-jet 2400 dpi Resolution Optimised book copy CD print 802.11g/n wireless,
Ethernet
Auto-duplex Automatic Document Feeder

Prices

Printer

Recommended Retail Price: AUD$179

Inks and Toners

Standard High-Capacity
Price Pages Price Pages
Black AUD$28.95 300 AUD$39.95 600
Cyan AUD$16.95 300 AUD$23.95 600
Magenta AUD$16.95 300 AUD$23.95 600
Yellow AUD$16.95 300 AUD$23.95 600

There is a pack of the high-capacity ink cartridges available for AUD$109.95.

The printer itself

The Brother DCP-J925DW is housed a a relatively shallow chassis with a shallow automatic-document-feeder lid that has a swirl-type pattern. This has been made possible through the use of Brother’s “capillary” system with the ink cartridges mounted up front rather than on the printhead.

Brother DCP-J925DW multi-function printer front-loading ink cartridges

Front-loading ink cartridges

The printer has a single tray but there is a mezzanine tray that is used for 4×6” snapshot paper so you can print out photos as snapshots, a different method to what HP has done for some of their high-end Photosmart printers where these have totally separate paper trays. It also has a DVD/CD printing mechanism so you can print on to inkjet-printable optical discs.

Setup

This printer can connect to your network via Wi-Fi or Ethernet and the Wi-Fi setup experience was surprisingly easy. It needs the time to be set in order to work with the Web-connected printer functionality, but Brother could implement an NTP-based clock setup option rather than requiring the user to set the time, just asking the user for their time zone and whether their time zone observes daylight-saving time.

Brother DCP-J925DW multifunction printer - sockets under lid

You have to lift the lid to plug the printer in to the Ethernet network or USB-connected computer

Like other Brother inkjet printers, this printer has the the inks loaded in the front and obviates the need to lift a heavy lid to replace the cartridges. But, like the MFC-J6910DW that I previously reviewed, it requires you to open the lid to find the USB and Ethernet sockets if you need to connect it directly to the host or to an Ethernet network.

Brother DCP-J925DW multifunction printer touchscreen

Touchscreen control panel

The control panel for this printer is primarily a touchscreen LCD but there are two start buttons and a cancel button as well as an on-off button. Compared to the HP touchscreen printers, this provides for surefire “start” and “stop” controls on the printer for those of us used to the traditional buttons. The screen may be found to be too small for some activities like choosing pictures to print and may be hard to read for those of us with limited sight.

Walk-up functions

The automatic document feeder is one of those types that draws the document under and ejects it out the top. This can be confusing to operate because most of these printers require you to feed the document in on a top shelf and they will eject the document underneath.

The Brother DCP-J925DW can copy as expected with one-touch ease but also has an option for improved book copying which may please those of us who copy a lot of material out of books and other bound documents. Think of copying those recipes that friends need out of those cookbooks as you “cook up a storm”.

Brother DCP-J925DW multi-function printer with paper loaded

Printer loaded with input and output documents

There is also the ability to print from directly-connected digital cameras or camera memory cards with the functionality that is expected of that feature.

The printer also works properly with the Brother iPrint&Scan mobile app so can print images and PDFs held on your smartphone. It can also scan to your smartphone with the phone saving the images as JPEGs.

The WebConnect online services that Brother provided allows for “hot-seat” use by multiple people and work with the popular social networks and photo-sharing services. As far as Facebook is concerned, it only offers uploading of images to the user’s Photo Albums from the scanner or camera card.

Computer functions

The Brother DCP-925DW’s software installed properly but couldn’t determine by itself which network adaptor it is connected. You had to determine whether you were using a wired or wireless connection which can be confusing if your printer was connected via Ethernet and the computer was connected via Wi-Fi or vice versa.

In, use, the driver showed the same level of useability as the software supplied with other Brother printers that I reviewed. This included highlighting the options that are in force and even using the “pages” graphics to show the kind of duplex or booklet printing that was in force when you used these features.

Useability and Print Quality

The Brother DCP-J925DW printer is quick at turning out documents but takes a very long time at turning out A4 photos on the glossy paper. This may be helped with an increase in memory and processor speed.

As well, it can print on both sides of the page very accurately with a minimum time penalty, which can be of a bonus if you rely on auto-duplex printing as a desktop-publishing tool, not just to be “green”. This was exemplified by my printing out a “download-to-print” door-hanger flyer from the Stop The Traffik anti-human-trafficking website that was pitched at hotels as a guest-awareness measure about this problem.

There is a high-pitch tone from the printhead when the Brother printer is pausing during a job and this may annoy some people, but would be expected of piezo inkjets because of the way they work.

When the Brother DCP—J925DW prints out photos, the pictures turn out darker and more defined compared to its HP and Canon home-use peers that I have reviewed. There is also a strong yellow component in these photos compared to the Brother A3 printers that I reviewed but this yellow is similar also to the same HP inkjets.

Limitations and Points Of Improvement

As I have said before, the Brother DCP-J925DW could benefit from a faster processor and more memory so it can handle larger or more detailed print jobs more effectively.

The touchscreen control panel could be made larger so it is easier to read, in a similar vein to the touchscreen control panels on the recent HP multifunction printers. This would make the printer easier to use for older people or those of us with poor eyesight.

The automatic document feeder could be improved in its useability by indicating where the original document should sit under and preferably in a contrasted colour. This can help with newer users who have upgraded from other multi-function printers that use the orthodox automatic-document feeder.

The Web-connected functionality could support a few more features like email-to-print or the ability to print from Facebook image collections. It, like the other Brother printers, could also benefit from UPnP Printer functionality so as to support network printing from digital cameras and interactive-TV applications.

Conclusion and Placement Notes

I would position the Brother DCP-J925DW as a cost-effective general-purpose home-use printer for the connected home as an alternative to the HP Photosmart 7510 if you don’t worry about fax or ePrint capabilities. It can also work as a secondary printer that could do supplementary work to the main laser or inkjet multifunction printer, such as in a study or rumpus room.

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Product Review–Brother QL-700 high-speed thermal label printer

Introduction

I am reviewing the Brother QL-700 desktop label printer which is the high-speed heavy-duty version of the QL-570 label printer that I previously reviewed. It is pitched at high-throughput applications such as the delivery segment of an online-order business or the mailroom in a busy office, whereas the QL-570 is pitched as a desktop labeller for most low-throughput applications.

Brother QL-700 label printer

Details

The QL-700 which is the heavier unit can use the same Brother thermal labels and tapes as the QL-570, yet is able to turn out labels and badges at a quicker rate than the previous model. It retails for AUD$149 and effectively uses the same software as the other model, working as a printer for the host computer using the supplied driver rather than needing special software to print at all.

Brother QL-700 label printer with tape loaded

Tape loaded in Brother QL-700

Like the Brother QL-570 label printer, the Brother QL-700 connects to the host computer via USB, and is self-powered like the QL-570 with an easy-to-replace “cassette-recorder” AC cord, which has the same advantages of not being dependent on “wall-wart” power supplies. Like the QL-570, it could benefit from having a two-port or three-port self-powered USB hub integrated in to the unit, which would benefit use with other workstation devices like bar-code readers, scales or keyboards.

If you are upgrading from a Brother QL-570 label printer, you do not really any retraining because the loading and operating procedures are effectively the same for both units.

As a labeller, the Brohter QL-700 still does the job properly and reliably, being able to work with continuous tape or cut labels and turning out sharp text on these labels. The supplied address-book software can turn out advanced mailing / shipping labels with the barcode for the ZIP code but this only works properly with goods destined to the USA. It could work in a country-specific manner by supporessing this barcode for other countries or using destination-specific barcode systems where applicable.

Limitations and Points Of Improvement

Brother QL-700 tape bay

Tape loading bay - just like the QL-570

Like the Brother QL-570, the QL-700 could benefit from implemeng the USB POS device classes ; and could also support printing on to regular thermal-print paper rolls used with point-of-sale devices. This can then make it an ideal partner for a high-traffic point-of-sale environment rather than just a label maker.

Similarly, the Brother P-Touch software that comes with the QL-series label printers could take advantage of the continuous-length tapes to turn out stick-on measuring tape for applications such as health and education.

Brother could also turn out a 12-volt variant of this model which can run from a car battery for use with high-throughput outdoor applications like disaster relief and country events.

Conclusion

I would recommend using the Brother QL-700 for high-turnaround environments like online-order businesses or offices with high-traffic mailrooms – if the business has outgrown the QL-570’s capabilities, the QL-700 would be a perfect step-up unit.

Brother QL-700 label printerWhen used with the Brother VM-100 visitor-management software or similar visitor-registration software, the Brother QL-700 could satisfy the needs of a very busy registration and check-in desk at a very busy event.

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Product Review–HP Photosmart 7510 multifunction inkjet printer

Introduction

I am reviewing the new HP Photosmart 7510 multifunction inkjet printer which is the top-end model of the new Photosmart lineup. It has been redesigned in a manner to make it more suitable for home use with an emphasis on it being in the living areas of the house. Of course, it will have the printing, scanning and copying abilities and is a citizen product of the Internet-edged home network with HP’s ePrint email-to-print and Apple’s iOS AirPrint functionality.

HP Photosmart 7510 multifunction inkjet printer

Print Scan Copy Fax /
E-mail
Paper Trays Connections
Colour Colour Colour Colour 1 x A4, 1 x 4×6 photo USB 2.0
Ink-jet Resolution Copy preview, Auto-optimise copy functions HP ePrint email-to-print Options 802.11g/n WPS Wi-Fi wireless
Auto-duplex Automatic Document Feeder UPnP Printer Device

Prices

Printer

Recommended Retail Price: AUD$249

Inks and Toners

Standard High-Capacity
Price Pages Price Pages
Black AUD$18.70 250 AUD$51.20 800
Cyan / Colour AUD$16.76 300 AUD$29.56 750
Magenta AUD$16.76 300 AUD$29.56 750
Yellow AUD$16.76 300 AUD$29.56 750
Photo black AUD$16.76 1500 AUD$29.56 4500

By the way, it is also worth noting that Officeworks does sell a pack of black, cyan, magenta and yellow high-capacity cartridges for AUD$110 at the time of publication.

The printer itself

The HP Photosmart 7510 is finished in that very dark brown colour which may be described as either “antique brown” or “coffee brown”. This is part of the new “earthy-brown” colour trend for interior design but the colour would allow the printer to blend in well with living areas that are replete with the antique or classic wooden furniture.

Unlike the typical inkjet printer, this multifunction printer is set on a base that extends to the length of what would be the typical A4 paper tray on these printers. The front of the plinth drops down smoothly just by you lifting a perspex lid in the area where documents would land when they are printed. There is another part of that lid which exposes the photo-paper tray for when you turn out snapshot photos. This may limit its ability to be positioned on the top of narrow furnture but would make it look the part on that desk, sideboard or large upright piano.

Part of being the top-end model of the Photosmart home inkjet printer series, the Photosmart 7510 is equipped with a low-profile automatic document feeder that would come in handy with scanning or copying documents. US-supplied models have access to the eFax service which allows for Internet-driven “virtual fax machine” functionality.

HP Photosmart 7510 control panel

Touchscreen control panel

As part of the recent trend for HP Photosmart and OfficeJet printers, you control the Photosmart 7510 using a touchscreen. This improves the useability of these printers through the setup phase and when you want to do any printing or copy jobs at the printer.

Like all the other recent Photosmart printers that I have reviewed, this printer uses the 564 and 564XL ink cartridges. This means that you have the benefit of the multi-cartridge colour printing that they offer, thus making them economical to run.

Setup and Network Connectivity

The only network connection for the HP Photosmart 7510 printer is a Wi-Fi connection. If you enrol it with your Wi-Fi home network from the control panel, it doesn’t recognise punctuation in passphrase entry. Therefore, you have to use USB-Wireless setup procedure from your computer to enrol it with non-WPS networks that use punctuation in their passphrases.

Similarly, the Photosmart printer doesn’t support IPv6 connectivity, which is a common amongst network equipment targeted at the home user. This is even as IPv6 is becoming more relevant with the home network especially with next-generation broadband services. On the other hand, this printer does work as a UPnP-compliant printing device, a feature that should be exploited with digital cameras and interactive-TV applications.

Other than that, this printer makes the setup very easy, through the use of animations to show you through preparation procedures.

Walk-up functions

This HP printer supports the full gamut of HP ePrint functions like email-to-print and printer apps. It can also work with the AirPrint mobile-print setup for Apple iOS devices.

There is the option to preview your original on the control panel screen when you scan or copy from the scanning platen. You can’t do this for documents scanned from the automatic document feeder. Other than that, it doesn’t have copying functions that business would find handy like ID copy.

HP Photosmart 7510 multifunction printer - head on

Head-on view with paper door and SD card slot on front of base

Like other multifunction printers, this printer has a camera-card slot on the front of its plinth so you can print from your digital camera’s card or scan documents to a memory card.

Computer functions

When it came to installing the printer’s software, I didn’t have any trouble with this. Even having to move the printer from USB to Wi-Fi operation was a relatively smooth operation.

The driver software doesn’t take up much memory space or processor time thus not impairing the computer’s performance. Even the scan monitor had behaved very consistently, accepting jobs that were started from the printer’s control surface and turning them out without “taking over” the computer. This was infact a more reliable experience than what I have had with previous HP software.

Printer useability and output quality

There is significantly reduced noise level from the HP Photosmart 7510 during a print job compared to earlier Photosmart printers,with no distinct noise from printhead marking the paper. This is more so when turning out regular documents. But the printhead noise may be noticeable during photo printing.

HP Photosmart 7510 multifunction inkjet printer with paper in scanner and output

Automatic document feeder

There have been some improvements on the automatic-duplexing front. The time that it takes to “flip” the page to print on the other side has been reduced to around 5 seconds, thus making a reduction in the time penalty for printing both sides. But, like with other HP inkjet printers with this feature, the Photosmart still requires a margin at the top and bottom of the page for this function to work.

The text and graphics on regular documents is very sharp, more on a par with the other Photosmart predecessors. As for photographis, they come out with a slightly dark image with reduced contrast. Some colours like the reds stand out more but blues are not all that strong. As well, you don’t have the vivid flesh tones.

Limitations and Points for Improvement

One omission that I have about the Photosmart 7510 is that it could have a walk-up USB socket on the front for printing from PictBridge-capable cameras, USB memory keys and card readers for future card formats. It could also benefit from an Ethernet socket on the back so it can work with other network technologies like HomePlug.

As for the auto-duplex functionality, HP should look at the issue of having its Photosmart and OfficeJet inkjet printers be able to print “to the edge” of the paper when printing both sides. This would make the function not just as a “green” function but more so as a desktop-publishing aid when it comes to printing documents where alignment on both sides is critical.

Conclusion and Placement Notes

I would recommend the HP Photosmart 7510 printer as a household printer for a busy household, especially if there are many guests coming through; including the previously-mentioned “family house” scenario. This is due to using the efficient five-cartridge printing mechanism which allows you to buy the colours that you need. It would work well as a SOHO printer for those of us who don’t rely on fax technology and fit in  with those houses where there is high value being placed on aesthetics; especially if there is a lot of that antique furniture in place.

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Laser and LED xerographic printing–what is the difference

When you are looking at laser printers to buy for yourself or specify for an organisation, you will come across printers that are known as “LED printers”.

What are these LED printers?

A LED printer and a laser printer are very similar types of printers in so much as how the paper is marked. They use the same dry-process xerographic / photostatic printing method that has been used for years with photocopiers, where there is an electrostatically-charged imaging drum which attracts powdered toner depending on whether it has been subject to light or not. Then this toner is transferred from the drum to electrostatically-charged paper and “ironed on” using hot fuser rollers.

But the main difference is how this imaging drum is illuminated with the digital representation of your document. A laser printer uses a laser beam and swivelling mirrors or pentagonal prisms to scan the document’s image on to the drum. On the other hand, an LED printer uses a fixed row of light-emitting diodes that turn on and off to scan the image to the drum. This LED array would be similar to what is used to illuminate a document when it is being scanned in the typical scanner and each LED light represents a horizontal pixel that is part of the line being printed.

This has benefits for printer design due to the elimination of the complex light path that laser printers use. Here, you don’t need to use mirrors and servo motors to control the laser’s light path, thus you reduce the number of parts that can go wrong. It also leads to the ability to design xerographic page printers that are more compact and lightweight compared to the laser-based units.

Further comments with OKI Data about LED printers

I had engaged in an email interview with Chris Thorley from OKI Data’s Australian head office to learn more about this. Here, I had learnt that they had pioneered this xerographic printing technology in 1981 and are now on their ninth-generation LED print engine.

Most other printer manufacturers use this LED technology on some of their low-end models. The main reason is a reduced part count allowing for reduced material costs; as well as the impact of unforseen technological issues not being considered significant for this market position, compared with using the trusted laser technology on their mid-tier and high-end models.

But OKI Data have implemented this technology across the board with their colour LED printers known to be yielding high colour production quality. It may also be known that some other manufacturers implement the OKI technology in to their production printing devices on an OEM (Other Equipment Manufacturer) basis. This practice is where a manufacturer uses an already-designed subsystem from anther manufacturer (the OEM)  in their own project.

Conclusion

It is worth considering the LED printers for your page-printer needs as long as they have the kind of specifications that you have in mind. This includes machine reliability, image quality, print speed including colour and auto-duplex print speed, functionality and running costs including availability of toner cartridges at differing capacity levels.

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Product Review–Brother QL-570 Label Printer

Introduction

I am reviewing the Brother QL-570 thermal label printer which works with a host computer as a simple label-printing system but can suit other tape-printing application.

Brother QL-570 thermal label printer

Price

RRP: AUD$129.00

This label printer is also available as part of a visitor-management package which costs AUD$499 that has the software, a brace of thermal-paper rolls for the printer as well as 12 plastic badges and accompanying clips.The software, which I will be reviewing next, is also available as an add-on package for AUD$399.

The unit itself

The Brother QL-570 is a very compact label that is as wide as the typical receipt printer or two desktop sticky-tape dispensers. So it wouldn’t take up much room on one’s desk and could even perch on the top ledge of a reception desk without getting in the way of the view of the receptionist.

Connections

The label printer connects directly to the host computer using a standard USB cable. It doesn’t support any RS232C connectivity which would hamper its useability as a receipt printer for most POS systems and hotspot-management systems that use this connection. Brother offers a network-connectable variant of this unit as the QL-580N which connects to an existing Ethernet network segment.

There is one thing that I am pleased about this unit in the way it is powered. It is a self-powered device rather than being powered from the host computer’s USB cable. But the way it is connected to AC power is refreshingly different for this class of device. Here, the power supply is built in to the unit and it is connected to the power outlet using a standard AC cord of the kind you use to connect a boom-box to the mains. Here, you benefit from an easily-replaceable power cord and you don’t have to worry about losing powerboard space to awkwardly-sized “wall-wart” power supplies.

Printing

Brother QL-570 thermal label printer tape compartment with tape

Tape compartment with tape roll in place

The Brother QL-570 prints on to the labels or tape using direct-thermal printing, like the typical receipt printer or the older fax machine. Here, these units used a special thermal paper that has its top surface burnt off whenever the paper needs to be marked and this printing technique is known for printouts that fade over time.

This is although Brother uses a special layer to protect the labels from fading. As well, this unit uses a built-in guillotine to cut the paper labels or tape. It can work with Brother-supplied adhesive or non-adhesive label-tape reels that are up to 90mm wide.

You install a tape reel by dropping it in to the tape well, making sure that a square black clip is outside the tape rest on the right. Then you have to thread the tape through a slot so it comes out the label printer’s front. You have to make sure the cover is closed before you use the printer. This includes using the form-feed or paper-cut buttons to feed the tape through properly.

Brother furnishes the same P-Touch Editor label-creation software as they have provided for their PT-2730 label writer to create custom labels. This also supports the creation of merged labels and work with supplied plug-in modules for Microsoft Word, Excel and Outlook. There is also a P-Touch address book to “get you going” with printed labels for your envelopes.

Programmers and software developers have access to a software-development kit available for download from Brother’s Website. This works tightly with Microsoft’s Visual Basic, Visual C and Access development environments.

Points of improvement

Brother QL-570 thermal label printer tape path shown

Tape path shiown - marked side isn't used for printing

As far as connectivity goes, a label printer like the Brother QL-570 could be designed for USB bus-powered operation, thus avoiding the need for extra cables to run to the printer as well as working properly with laptop computers. On the other hand, this label printer could benefit from an integrated self-powered USB hub thus creating more USB ports to connect devices to the host computer.

I would also like to see this printer support any and all USB device classes that relate to label or receipt printing for point-of-sale or gaming applications. This could also allow the printer to work with devices like point-of-sale terminals, TV set-top boxes, gaming / amusement systems and the like as a label or receipt / voucher printer.

It could also be able to work with the typical thermal-paper rolls used for receipt printing, which would be commonly available around most businesses. This would benefit the QL-570 being used in visitor-management or similar applications where you use “one-shot” badges or tickets.

As I have said before, the Brother P-Touch label-creation software could benefit from a measuring-tape creation program so one can create measuring tapes.

Conclusion

Brother QL-570 thermal label printerThe Brother P-Touch QL-570 label printer is a very capable unit for turning out labels or name tags on an ad-hoc basis and I would still consider it as being of use for these applications.

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Product Review–Dell 1130n compact monochrome laser printer

Introduction

I am reviewing the Dell 1130n compact monochrome laser printer which is Dell’s own effort at a compact monochrome laser business printer similar to the Brother HL-2230 series of compact monochrome laser printers. This unit is network-enabled for Ethernet but doesn’t use auto-duplex printing.

It can be ordered directly from Dell at their site by clicking this link.

Dell 1130n compact monochrome laser printer

Print Paper Trays Connections
B/W 1 x A4 USB 2.0
Laser xerographic Multi-purpose slot Ethernet
IPv6 ready

Prices

Printer

Recommended Retail Price: $229

Inks and Toners

Standard High-Capacity
Price Pages Price Pages
Black AUD$94.60 (online) 1500 AUD$110 (online) 2500

The printer itself

Computer functions

The software was very quick and trouble-free to install. As well, it didn’t slow the computer down during print jobs. There is a print-monitor function for direct-connect and network-connect setups but this only comes in to play when there is an error condition. It can be started independently of a print job or error condition if you want to check on things like toner level for example and is effectively the printer’s dashboard.

Use

Dell 1130n mono laser printer print cartridge

The integrated toner-drum print cartridge that this printer takes

The toner cartridge is different from that used in the Brother compact printers in that it is an integrated toner / drum-unit cartridge similar to what happens with HP LaserJet printers. For this kind of integrated print cartridge, there is the availabliity of a high-capacity cartridge as well as a standard-capacity cartridge which allows for scalability to suit one’s needs and budget.

Like most of these laser printers, the Dell 1130n doesn’t have a “fuel-gauge” on the machine so you can know how much toner is left. This “fuel gauge” is part of the print monitor application which is the printer’s dashboard.

It only takes a few seconds for the printer to turn out a document, whether it is a photograph or a text document. It will work in an ideal manner with large document runs after 100-150 pages, where there will be less of the paper-curling. As for page turnout, it lives up to the specification for the pages-per-minute with pages coming out very quickly.

Print quality

The printer does yield very sharp crisp text for document printout, which would be acceptable for business work; and is very typical of most lasers. Even a mixed-mode document with graphics and text does come out very crisply.

I have printed one of my photos using the two print-quality settings and when you use the “Best” print quality, you see a sharper image. The images come out darker than the HP LaserJet M1536dnf multifunction monochrome laser but very similar to what has emerged from the Brother HL2240d compact monochrome laser. At least the best-quality image available from this compact monochrome laser was true to what would be seen in a newspaper or on a black-and-white TV.

Limitations and Points Of Improvement

There is no distinct “fall-to-sleep” mode where only one small light glows if there are long periods of inactivity. As well, this printer lacks an automatic duplexer which permits and encourages double-sided printing.

As well, a very common problem with all Dell printers is the ability to know where to get consumables beyond ordering them directly through Dell. This may be of importance if you run the printer “to the edge” and need to stock up on supplies during an urgent project. It should be feasible that you could buy toner cartridges at “bricks-and-mortar” shops like stationers or newsagents as well as online through Dell.

Conclusion and Placement Notes

I would recommend this printer as being suitable for a reception-desk invoice printer at a business like a clinic who has growth aspirations. The scalability offered by the availability of a high-capacity print cartridge as well as a standard print cartridge, as well as network connectivity, can allow the business to “start small” with cheaper cartridges then grow to the higher-capacity cartridges. In the case of a clinic, this can cater for a situation where there are one or two doctors practising but allow for the situation where more of the professionals start to practise at that same location.

If you are wanting to save money by buying the Dell 1130 which is the cheaper direct-connect-only version of this printer, I would suggest that you go for this model because it would be worth it to keeep going.. This is because when you run out of toner on the cheaper model, you could effectively buy another of that model whereas you could complete two of hte high-capacity toner cartridges to spend the equivalent on keeping it going.

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Choosing a Brother small-business printer or HP inkjet printer could become like choosing a car

Recently, I had reviewed a few Brother printers and had observed a particular trend in how the products are being positioned. It is becoming more akin to how the typical vehicle builder is positioning a particular vehicle model or series of vehicles.

It is also becoming very similar with Hewlett-Packard’s Photosmart and OfficeJet inkjet printer ranges where there are a few common mechanisms implemented in the products. But, in HP’s case, the different models have differing cosmetic designs so as to integrate different feature sets and make the more expensive machines look classier.

A lineup of models with varying feature sets and throughput speeds but with the same design

In the vehicle world, an example of this was Holden’s large family cars sold through the 1960s to the 1970s. These vehicles had different model names depending on their level of luxury and / or their powertrain, with the “Premier” representing the top-of-the-line standard-wheelbase vehicle. Low-end vehicles were referred to initially as “Standard” or “Belmont” vehicles until the early-70s “HQ” series while “step-up” or “mid-tier” vehicles had model names like “Special” or “Kingswood”. This was until the “HQ” series where vehicles in that and subsequent series had “package” suffixes to differentiate entry-level and mid-tier vehicles.

For example, I had noticed that the HL-2240D direct-connect duplex monochrome laser printer was part of a series of laser printers based around a new printer design and print engine. There was a low-end model known as the HL-2130 which couldn’t print both sides as well as the HL-2250DN which was equipped with Ethernet networking and the HL-2280DW being equipped with Wi-Fi networking. Similarly, the more expensive models in the lineups also benefit from higher page throughput due to more powerful components in the design.

A model range derived from another model range

But the practice becomes very similar to how the vehicle builders derive a model range design from another concurrently-running model range design. An example of this would be them designing a longer-wheelbase luxury “executive” car as a derivate of a standard large family car like what Ford have done when they derived the Fairlane and LTD designs from the Falcon designs.

Here, this is reflected in how the designs for this company’s laser-printer lineup are used. I had observed that the multifunction series including the MFC-7360N that I reviewed were derived from the previously-mentioned dedicated laser printer series that the HL-2240D was part of. Here, all the units in both printer lineups used the same print engine and the same replacement parts.

Benefits for product choice

This will allow for a granular range of products in a product class where a person can choose or specify the right kind of printer based on their needs and budget; without needing to create new designs in order to satisfy the different market segments. This also allows the manufacturer to keep product prices within affordable territory because there is the ability to reuse parts across the different models. It also can allow a salesman room to upsell customers to better products or make deals that offer better value.

In most cases, the mid-tier product will offer best value for most users. For example, in these two printer lineups, the mid-tier models (HL-2250DN dedicated printer and MFC-7460DN) will offer the two currently-desirable features – double-sided printing which saves paper; and network connectivity. In some other cases like the dedicated colour laser printers based on Brother’s latest high-throughput colour-laser print engine, the HL-4150CDN which just has Ethernet network connectivity and reduced-time-penalty colour duplex printing would suit most users.

Conclusion

The creation of a granular product range with incremental functionality but a few common design bases and /or descendent product classes can then allow manufacturers to keep consistent value for money when they want to build out a product range.

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