HP ePrint Archive

You can have Alexa print documents on your HP printer

Articles

Amazon Echo on kitchen bench press photo courtesy of Amazon USA

You can ask Amazon Alexa to print documents through your HP printer

HP Voice Printing Now Supports Alexa, Google Assistant & Cortana | Android Headlines

Alexa can now control your HP printer | Engadget

No, you don’t need a voice-controlled printer in your life | The Verge

From the horse’s mouth

HP Printing And PCs

Support Page (Amazon Alexa, Google Home, Microsoft Cortana)

Press Release

My Comments

You can now ask Amazon Alexa to print “download-to-print” resources or other material through your ePrint-capable HP network printer. This was a feature initially and quietly offered for Google Home and Microsoft Cortana but HP have given it a lot of space on Amazon’s voice-assistant platform due to it becoming the most popular of these platforms.

… as you could with Google Home

With all of these platforms, the printing function has to be added on as a Skill through the respective platform’s app store. As well, the printer must be able to support HP ePrint or Web Services printing, which enables printing of various printable resources from various content providers as well as supporting “email-to-print” where you can send a document to a machine-specific email address for it to be printed at that machine.

Infact I have given some space to the HP ePrint ecosystem through reviewing a number of HP printers that have this functionality as well as writing some articles on this subsystem such as implementing it in a public-printing concept.

HP Envy 120 designer all-in-one printer

… and your HP Envy 120 designer all-in-one inkjet printer could turn them out at your call

For this functionality to work with your printer, you have to supply its ePrint email address to the Skill as part of configuring it. Another limitation is that you can only bind one printer to that Skill which can be a limitation with multiple-printer households, especially where you may choose to run an HP Envy 100, Envy 120 or similar machine as a secondary machine kept in the kitchen.

Once this is set up, you could ask Alexa to print out something like an art-therapy colouring page or some ruled paper and your network-capable HP printer will turn these out.

What is still happening is that HP is still showing strong committment to the idea of the home or small-office printer being a highly-capable appliance rather than just a peripheral for a regular computer running a full-blown operating system. This means that the host device shouldn’t need to be dependent on a print driver to suit that particular machine. This committment was demonstrated through HP’s network-capable home printers and MFCs having UPnP Printing, then establishing the ePrint ecosystem with its email-to-print and print-from-the-control-panel functions, and now using your smart speaker to order documents to be printed.

What needs to happen is that other printer manufacturers show a strong committment towards home and small-business printers being able to work as a “printing appliance” rather than just as a computer peripheral.

This includes:

  • printing “download-to-print” resource collections hosted by content providers and other organisations or in storage locations on local, network or online storage locations using the printer’s control panel;
  • supporting voice-driven home assistant platforms and other control surfaces;
  • and running a polished “scan-to-email” and “enail-to-print” ecosystem.

Similarly, having other dedicated-purpose devices like Smart TVs, games consoles and the new crop of smart appliances being able to print to these devices without the need for particular software drivers.

Then it could see these devices become highly capable and as part of the smart-home ecosystem.

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Product Review–HP Envy 120 Multifunction Inkjet Printer

Introduction

I am reviewing the HP Envy 120 multifunction inkjet printer which is the latest in HP’s “Envy” range of designer slimline multifunction printers. This unit has the same pedigree as the HP Envy 100 printer which I previously reviewed, where it implements a low-profile auto-duplex inkjet print mechanism in a very stylish cabinet reminiscent of home audio and video equipment.

But this model has had a few changes like face-up scanning with a clear glass lid for previewing your originals as well as a swing-open panel for the USB socket and memory card slots. This is alongside the idea of having it finished in an “all-black” housing.

HP Envy 120 designer all-in-one printer

Print Scan Copy Fax /
E-mail
Paper Trays Connections
Colour Colour Colour Colour 1 x A4 USB 2.0
Ink-jet Resolution HP ePrint receive, Scan-to-email 802.11g/n WPS Wi-Fi wireless
Auto-duplex Face-side-up scanning with preview window UPnP Printing

Prices

Printer

The machine’s standard price: AUD$329

Inks and Toners

Standard High-Capacity
Price Pages Price Pages
Black AUD$25 200 AUD$48 600
Colour AUD$30 165 AUD$56 440

 

The printer itself

Envy 120 designer all-in-one printer printing a document

The Envy 120 printer when it is printing

Like the rest of the HP Envy printer series, this model conveys the kind of operation you would expect from high-end audio and video equipment like the classic Bang & Olufsen Beosystem 5000 Series hi-fi systems. For example, when a document is being printed, the front panel swings up and a small bar comes out in anticipation of that printed document. Then, when you collect the document, the front panel swings down.

Similarly, when you need to load paper in to the printer, you touch the “eject” button on the front and the paper drawer comes out in a manner not dissimilar to a CD player’s disc drawer. Then, when you have loaded the paper, you either touch the “eject” button or push the drawer slightly to close the paper drawer.

Walk-up functions

The printer is able to copy documents placed in the scanner area or print from memory cards or USB memory sticks using the touchscreen control panel. As well, you can use the HP ePrintCenter functionality to print out a wide range of documents ranging from notepaper to newspapers or comics.

It also works with the HP ePrint “email-to-print” function but also has a “scan-to-email” function which is infact an HP ePrintCenter app. This isn’t dependent on the machine knowing a POP3 or IMAP4 email service but through HP’s ePrint service. When you first set this feature up, you would need to enter your email address in to the printer’s control panel whereupon it would send you a PIN number via email. You enter these details in to the printer and can have them stored there. Subsequently, when the printer shows the “sender and recipient” screen, you can touch the “Modify Recipient” button to determine a different recipient. The documents can be sent as a JPEG or single-page PDF.

HP Envy 120 designer all-in-one printer card reader and USB port

The USB port (where you can charge smartphones) and the memory card slots behind a swing-down door

The USB socket that is used for walk-up printing from  and walk-up scanning to USB flash drives and similar devices also has been optimised as a device-charging socket. If you connect a smartphone, external battery pack or similar gadget to this socket, it will supply power to the device in order to charge it or avoid compromising the device’s battery runtime. This even happens when the printer is turned off using the on-off button on the front, This socket, along with the SD card slot that serves the same purpose of walk-up printing and scanning is hidden behind a hinged door on the front of the Envy printer.

Mobile-device functions

The HP Envy 120 works properly with the iOS and Android mobile devices using AirPrint (iOS only) or the HP ePrint app for both platforms. This app can work from JPEGs, PDFs or text files and can allow the printer to print both sides for multipage documents.

It does also support UPnP-Print for those devices that are willing to exploit this standard for network-based driver-free printing. At the moment, we don’t see any consumer devices on the market that are willing to exploit the UPnP-Print function but this could be relevant to cameras or interactive-TV applications.

Computer functions

I loaded the latest full-function driver software from HP’s Website and this loaded and installed very promptly without issues.

There is a problem that if the PC comes out of “hibernate mode”, it takes a bit too long to discover the printer on the network for scan-to-PC operation and shows up an error message as if the printer wasn’t there. But it can scan to the computer properly.

For printing, the print driver was very responsive and didn’t show any extra unnecessary information through the print process.

Print quality

The HP Envy 120 was able to turn out documents with a similar quality to other consumer inkjet printers. But when it comes to photos, it can lose a bit of the definition compared to the original Envy 100. Here, it also yields darker images with reduced contrast. Of course, this wouldn’t be a match with the Photosmart printers which yield higher photo quality for HP’s consumer inkjet printers.

When the Envy 120 prints on both sides of a page, there is a slight shift between the front and the back of the page. This can be annoying if you are using this feature for desktop-publishing especially with luggage labels and similar odd-shaped documents.

Scanning

HP Envy 120 designer all-in-one printer see-through scanner lid

See-through scanner lid

The scanner has the scan head integrated in to the lid so as to provide a “preview” window for how you scan or copy the documents or photos. This can work well for snapshots and single-page documents but can be difficult to use when it comes to working with bound material such as copying out recipes from a cookbook to avoid damaging that cookbook in the kitchen.

Limitations and Points Of Improvement

One weakness across the HP Envy printers and the slimline printing mechanism is that they use two ink cartridges – one black cartridge and one “three-colour” cartridge. This can make these printers expensive to run especially if you consider regular use out of them because if you run out of one colour in the colour cartridge, you have to replace that cartridge.

Here, HP could improve on the low-profile auto-duplex print mechanism by using separate cartridges for each colour. It can also allow HP to use photo-grade inks that are used with the Photosmart series of inkjet printers, thus giving the Envy series deluxe credentials in the output as well as the looks.

The other weakness with this model is the scanner design not being able to work with bound material very well due to the it working “face-side-up”. This could be improved with a lid that uses a pantograph-style or “Z-style” hinge so it can lie flat on the bound material during scanning thus achieving best results.

Conclusion and Placement Notes

Like the HP Envy 100, I would see this printer work more as a secondary printer to keep in a living area where you value elegance and aesthetics. This also would appeal to households who want a multifunction printer but use it on an ad-hoc basis and also value the aesthetics. For example, this could exist in a family room, living room or main hallway while a workhorse printer could be mainly used in the home office for the big runs.

It wouldn’t impress people who place value on the price of the printer or the cost to keep it running especially as a primary workhorse machine.

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The trend towards app-based devices

HP OfficeJet 6700 Premium control panel detail

The HP OfficeJet 6700 Premium – an example of a printer’s control panel that is about printing apps

Previously, only “regular” desktop and laptop computers were highly programmable with a huge hive of companies and individuals writing programs for them. These typically ranged from applications like word processors, spreadsheets, databases, graphics editors and the like through to games and entertainment software. Typically the people who used these computers either loaded the software from tapes, disks or other media or simply downloaded them from bulletin-boards, online services or the Internet initially by telephone but through networks like cable TV. Then they ran these programs on the computers to gain the benefit from them.

Now, Apple popularised the idea of downloading programs to their mobile devices using the iTunes App Store. This is although there were online services and Internet Web sites hosting programs for other mobile devices but the practice was considered very difficult. It included loading the programs from the iTunes App Store using the phone’s control surface without the need to use a regular computer to facilitate this procedure.

QR code used in a newspaper to link to its mobile site

A smartphone based on the Android platform

Subsequently companies who manufactured mobile phones and tablet computers implemented this kind of software download and used the platform which these devices were built on as a software-development platform for third-party programmers. This led to the mobile devices i.e. the smartphones, media players and tablet computers gaining that same kind of flexibility as the regular computers.  We have ended up with remarks with “There’s an app for that” for daily tasks because of this situation.

As I mentioned before, the app stores have started to become like the bulletin boards and download services of yore where these services became full of substandard software.

Now we are seeing printers and television sets becoming developed to work on app-driven platforms. This allows these devices to perform more that what they were initially designed to do. For example, the smart-TV platforms are acquiring software front-ends for most of the catch-up TV services.

As we will head towards more devices having online and Internet functionality, we could see more of the app stores surfacing. For people who work on apps or Websites, this could become a situation where front-ends or apps would need to be ported for the different platforms. In some cases, it could end up with games and entertainment software pitched towards the dashboard of a car or towards that “Internet refrigerator” or “online microwave oven”. But on the other hand, this could lead towards increasing the role of these devices in our lifestyle. In this case, functions like device cameras could become part of health and wellness monitoring as what Fujitsu is working on.

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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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Product Review–HP LaserJet Pro 400 Series colour laser printer (M451dn)

Introduction

I previously reviewed the Brother HL-4150CDN high-speed single-pass desktop colour laser printer and have been looking to review colour laser printers with a similar feature set (Ethernet networking, high-speed colour printing, auto-duplex printing) to this model that I reviewed. The first competing model that came along with this basic function set is the HP LaserJet Pro 400 which I am now reviewing. It is known as the M451dn but is also available as the M451dw which has integrated 802.11g/n Wi-Fi wireless connectivity.

It is equipped with the HP ePrint email-to-print function, yet is able to, like other printers in this class, turn out colour print jobs as fast as monochrome print jobs for this class of printer.

Of course it is also very interesting about the way HP are positioning this printer in a very confusing purchase environment as they are promoting their high-end “OfficeJet Pro” business inkjet printers like the OfficeJet Pro 8600 Series as being as cost-effective, if not cheaper, to run as a colour laser printer. This in fact affects how they position and price the LaserJet printers and the consumables available for them.

HP LaserJet Pro 400 Series colour laser printer

Print Fax /
E-mail
Paper Trays Connections
Colour Colour 1 x A4 USB 2.0
Laser xerographic HP ePrint reception only Optional A4 tray Ethernet
Auto-duplex multi-purpose tray IPv6 ready

Prices

Printer

The machine’s standard price: AUD$599

Optional Extras:

High-capacity paper tray: AUD$145

Inks and Toners

Standard High-Capacity
Price Pages Price Pages
Black $119 2200 $147 4000
Cyan $171.45 2200
Magenta $165.54 2200
Yellow $171.45 2200

 

The printer itself

Setup and initial observations

The HP LaserJet Pro 400 Series printer is the first single-pass high-speed colour laser that I have reviewed here that uses the Integrated toner-drum print cartridges rather than a separately-replaceable drum unit. There may be benefits and caveats to this approach such as running costs or design abilities for this class of printer.

Like most of the these colour laser printers, this printer uses a drawer for loading and unloading the colour print cartridges. This makes them easier to replace and the process isn’t very messy as well as avoiding the use of “clamshell” designs with lids that can be hard to open.

The network connectivity works properly for all Ethernet-based wired networks and you could even have it plugged in to a HomePlug powerline network adaptor at the end of one of these networks for a reliable no-new-wires network setup. As well, it is a future-proof network printer with integrated dual–stack support for IPv6.

Walk-up and mobile-device functions

HP LaserJet Pro 400 Series control panel

Control panel

This printer has the ePrint email-to-print functionality which I have given plenty of space to but you need to instantiate and manage this function from a regular computer on the network. It could benefit from having on-off or “reset” functionality managed from the printer’s control-panel menu like on the HP LaserJet Pro M1536.

As well, it can work properly with the HP ePrint Home & Biz mobile app for the mobile platforms as well as having inherent support for Apple’s AirPrint iOS mobile-printing effort.

This printer has a “quick-form” printout functionality so you can print out graph paper, notepaper, music staves and similar ruled paper from the machine’s control panel. It still has the same options that have been available across all HP printers equipped with this feature.

Computer functions

The printer uses the same “Smart Install” feature that the HP LaserJet P1560 and the LaserJet M1212 that I previously reviewed here use. This has the driver held in the printer’s firmware and you install the driver to your computer by pointing to the printer’s Web page or to a virtual drive letter and downloading the software from there. This kind of setup can be augmented through the printer checking for and downloading the latest driver software from HP’s Website at regular intervals so that subsequent users have the latest driver software.

The driver software is still easy to use, using the same “preset” methods as had often been the case with other HP driver programs. Even the printing options for duplex or booklet printing are highlighted with a graphic of how the finished document will come out when printed and how you bind it.

Print speed, quality and reliability

HP LaserJet Pro 400 Series toner cartridges

Integrated print cartridges in the printer tray

The print speed for the HP LaserJet Pro 400 Series printer is the same high speed for colour jobs as it is for monochrome jobs using the same paper.

The auto-duplex function could be more efficient with any multi-page or multi-copy jobs. It doesn’t match the Brother HL-4150CDN on this aspect where the Brother could effectively process two sides of two sheets at once.

As well, this LaserJet printer also exhibits a registration problem on the page’s vertical axis where the back of the page is printed significantly higher than the front. It may be limited to this demonstration sample but can be of concern with some desktop-publishing tasks where the back of the document has to line up with the front, such as “cut-out” or “odd-shape” projects like tags and door-hangers. But it wouldn’t be of importance when you turn out booklets or regular documents because of the various margins allowed in the layouts.

I have performed a 100-page auto-duplex print run using regular paper and this printer has been able to complete the job reliably which means that it could satisfy heavier tasks more easily.

The documents that came out of the HP LaserJet Pro 400 Series colour laser printer were the same ultra-sharp output expected out of a good-quality office colour laser printer. The printer was even able to show up the detail very well in documents that had this.

When it came to printing photos through this laser printer using regular office paper, I was expecting a dark image with poor contrast. But I had seen the HP LaserJet Pro 400 Series turn out images that have the same contrast as a good-quality business inkjet when given plain paper. It tended to be heavier with the green on an image that used a contrasting pale-green and bright-red features while it didn’t run a dominant pink overcast image on a group shot of people. This would appeal to those of us who are turning out quick proofs of photographic material.

Limitations and Points Of Improvement

One sore point that I have noticed with the HP LaserJet Pro 400 Series (M451dn) is the consumables, namely the print cartridges. Here, HP could offer high-capacity colour print cartridges as well as the standard colour print cartridges, which they could reduce the price on. They do offer the high-capacity black print cartridge which yields twice the number of pages for approximately AUD$30 extra but the colour cartridges are still of importance especially if you do a lot of “full-bleed” colour or turn out a lot of material in your business’s trade dress.

The printer could use high-capacity flash memory, preferably the SDHC cards, for holding job queues, especially if it is  expected to be a business workhorse. As well, a feature that a lot of competing dedicated colour laser printers do offer is a USB socket for “walk-up” printing from USB memory keys or digital cameras.

But, as I have explained previously, I would definitely like to see improvements with the automatic duplexer especially in its throughput and its front-back vertical-registration behaviour.

Similarly, I would like to see a menu option available from the printer’s control panel that allows you to turn the ePrint feature on an off from that particular control surface. This would allow you to stop the ePrint service overnight when you close up your premises or suspend use if it if you find that it could be misused. It could also benefit from a “confidential print” option where you have to enter a code at the printer to print out the job.

Conclusion and Placement Notes

If you value ePrint email-to-print, prefer an integrated-print-cartridge laser-printer design and have moderate workload expectations, I would recommend you purchase this unit and run it with the high-capacity black print cartridges. Otherwise, I would go for the Brother HL-4150CDN if you are valuing a cost-effective heavy-duty printing machine that excels on double-sided printing throughput.

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Product Review–HP OfficeJet Pro 8600a Plus multifunction inkjet printer

Introduction

I am reviewing Hewlett-Packard’s latest business inkjet multifunction printer which is the OfficeJet Pro 8600a Plus. This unit is to supersede the previously-reviewed HP OfficeJet Pro 8500a Plus and, as you will see later through the review, will have some improvements over that model, especially the ability to print on both sides of the paper “to the edge”.

HP OfficeJet Pro 8600a Plus all-in-one printer

Print Scan Copy Fax /
E-mail
Paper Trays Connections
Colour Colour Colour Colour 1 x A4 USB 2.0
Ink-jet Resolution ID copy
Optimised book copy, other special copy features
Super G3 Optional A4 paper tray Ethernet,
802.11g/n wireless
Auto-duplex Duplex automatic document feeder   HP ePrint email-to-print receive   IPv6 ready

Prices

Printer

Recommended retail price: AUD$499

Inks and Toners

  Standard   High-Capacity  
  Price Pages Price Pages
Black AUD$32 1000 AUD$45 2300
Cyan   700 AUD$34 1500
Magenta   700 AUD$34 1500
Yellow   700 AUD$34 1500

The printer itself

HP OfficeJet Pro 8600a Plus all-in-one printer

Distinctly-shaped automatic document feeder

Of course, the feature that makes the HP OfficeJet Pro 8600a Plus identifiable is the single-piece automatic document feeder design. Unlike most multifunction printers which use a removable or fold-over document input tray, this printer implements an integrated input tray, which creates a stylish design and reduces the need to do any further setup.

Setup

The HP OfficeJet Pro 8600a Plus was very easy to set up and add to the network and can connect to a Wi-Fi wireless or a wired Ethernet network. Like most business printers, it is future-proof with dual-stack IPv6 support, which would certainly benefit businesses who are heading down this next-generation network setup or are considering next-generation broadband.

When I wanted to enable the OfficeJet’s ePrint functionality, the printer failed to download the whole file completely and properly. Typically this was caused by server timeout problems and the printer would take the necessary “anti-brick” procedures too readily. This could be improved through the use of background downloading for the necessary software, especially if the update was part-finished.

Once loaded, the ePrint functionality had worked as expected with the email-to-print functionality and access to the HP ePrint app library. It also worked properly with my Android copy of the HP ePrint Home & Biz app, which allows for greater control over the print output from mobile devices; as well as being able to scan to the mobile device.

Walk-up functions

The HP OfficeJet Pro 8600a Plus can work as a copier with the ability to copy both sides of a document very quickly, a speed slightly shorter than its predecessor. There is also an ID copy function which is supported by assistance animations on the unit’s LCD.

Of course, the OfficeJet can print from and scan to memory cards or USB memory keys, thus working as a standalone printing appliance. In addition, the printer can scan documents either to an email address or a network folder, but these require the use of desktop software to configure these services for your network. As far as scan-to-folder is concerned, the printer can work with any network-storage setup that uses the standard protocols like SMB, which means that it can scan to a NAS device as well as a server or regular computer.

The unit has an integrated colour fax machine for use with regular telephony services with the ability to forward faxes to email or store them on a network storage. The main limitation with using this function for remote “scan-via-fax” operations is that you are typically limited to 300dpi black-and-white images due to the limitations of the Group 3 fax technology.

Computer functions

The HP OfficeJet Pro 8600a Plus’s computer software loaded very smoothly and worked as expected for a printer that is to be part of the Windows 7 ecosystem. This included support for the Device Stage functionality and integration with applications that have distinct control over the printer.

The software is still very useable and works well with the operating system in an unobtrusive way. There is the ability to set the printer to scan to the computer or to storage on the network like a NAS. This latter situation requires the use of utility software that is supplied as part of the printer for setting up the scan destination. The same software can be used for setting up scan-to-email destinations. But if you set up a scan-to-computer arrangement, the software’s scan monitor works very unobtrusively.

Useability

HP OfficeJet Pro 8600a Plus all-in-one printer illuminated mechanism bay

Illuminated print-mechanism bay

This printer has its ink cartridges loaded from the front in a similar manner to its predecessor and the Brother inkjet printers. But the similarity stops here. When you drop down the access door to gain access to the cartridges, the print bay is illuminated so you can easily identify paper jams. This makes the printer much more easily serviceable compared to the typical laser printer.

A feature that makes the printer identifiable is the single-piece automatic document feeder design. Unlike most multifunction printers which use a removable or fold-over document input tray, this printer implements an integrated input tray, which creates a stylish design and reduces the need to do any further setup.

Similarly there is a pull-out paper drawer which is easy to load and has a high capacity. There is the option to buy an extra paper drawer for use if you want to keep different media on hand.

Print speed and quality

The OfficeJet Pro 8600a’s automatic duplex printing was a major improvement over the previous HP inkjet printers with this feature in that it could effectively print on both sides of the sheet without requiring a large top and bottom margin. This previous requirement has been a personal annoyance of mine with other auto-duplex HP inkjet printers especially when turning out double-sided “tear-off” flyers to promote this site, and this model was effectively a sigh of relief for this function.

This would be especially of benefit for those of us who place importance on auto-duplex printing for desktop-publishing needs like turning out short-order flyers or previews of documents intended for long-run printing. It can even benefit print runs of custom-shaped documents like door hangers, luggage labels, bookmarks and the like.

There has been an improvement in the duplex print speed with a reduced waiting period while the ink dries, but this could be worked on further. One way this could be looked at is to identify whether the page can be retracted slowly during the estimated ink-drying time.

This HP OfficeJet Pro 8600a was able to complete a large duplex print run without failing and the reduced dwell-time for ink drying had become a bonus in reducing the time it took to turn out the pages.

The document output is very sharp for an inkjet printer, very close to what is achieved for a laser or LED printer. But this printer shone with the photo reproduction, something that a lot of business colour printers that are pitched at regular office use may find hard to do. Here, the photo reproduction has been an improvement over the previous model, the OfficeJet Pro 8500a Plus.

Here, the printer turned out a more saturated and brighter image and when it reproduced the group photo, it yielded proper skin tones for the people. I checked the sample pictures turned out by this machine against the same sample pictures turned out by the Photosmart 7510 which I previously reviewed and the photos were on a par with that printer.

Improvement over previous model

I have noticed that the HP OfficeJet Pro 8600a Plus is a real and distinct improvement on the OfficeJet Pro 8500a Plus predecessor in quite a few ways. It was able to reproduce photographs in an improved manner, which would make it please real estate agents, marketing agencies and similar businesses that depend on proper colour photo output for proofs, short-run colour flyers and similar documents. The auto-duplex printing function was an improvement on the previous model in that the pages were reproduced “to the edge” without a large enforced margin, similar to competing printers.

It also has a slightly-increased theoretical ink yield compared to the previous model, thus effectively making it cheaper to run and less time between restocking the ink cartridges.

Limitations and Points of Improvement

The HP OfficeJet Pro 8600a printer could benefit from increased paper handling options like an extra low-capacity tray for use with ad-hoc media like letterhead, labels or plastic film when used for short runs. Similarly, it could benefit from being integrated with single-pass duplex scanning as an advanced feature, thus allowing for quick-throughput reliable double-sided scanning.

The ePrint functionality could be delivered out-of-the-box rather than having the user run a firmware upgrade. While on the same topic, firmware updates could then be implemented in a “block-by-block” fashion so that the OfficeJet doesn’t need to download good firmware when completing an aborted firmware update.

It could also implement T.37 and T.38 IP-based fax endpoint functionality and UPnP printing as extra functions to make for a highly-capable small-business printer. These are functions that could be enabled and managed on the printer’s Web dashboard.

Conclusion and Placement Notes

HP OfficeJet Pro 8600a Plus all-in-one printerI would recommend the HP OfficeJet Pro 8600a Plus multifunction inkjet printer as a colour inkjet workhorse for the office. This is more so if you do intend to print photo-based documents like photo proofs and short-order brochures.

Similarly. I would also recommend it for people who also value printer capacity and media flexibility, thus placing it as a more credible small-office-based alternative to an entry-level colour laser multifunction printer.

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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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Printing from your smartphone or tablet

Introduction

HP Envy 100 all-in-one printer (D410a)

HP Envy 100 all-in-one printer - you can print to these printers from your smartphone or tablet

Most smartphone or tablet users would like to obtain hard copy of documents or pictures on paper. But at the moment, there is no open and common platform for printing from these devices.

There isn’t even the ability to connect a printer directly to any of these devices and this issue will become more real as more households use these devices. It will extend to other Internet-ended devices like Internet-ended TVs and set-top boxes that are part of interactive TV setups.

There are a few solutions being established by most of the printer manufacturers and all of these solutions require that you use a newer network-enabled printer that is connected to your home network.

Manufacturer-supplied print app

Brother iPrint&Scan mobile app

Brother iPrint&Scan - one of the mobile print apps offered by the manufacturers

The most common solution is to download a printing app from the mobile device’s app store. This method can work if your preferred printer brand is other than Hewlett-Packard because this brand offers different print options that don’t rely on these apps. As well I have installed these apps on to my Android smartphone so I can assess different network printers’ abilities with printing from a smartphone.

These are written by the vendors themselves, usually for all of their recent-issue network-enabled printers and they can print known file types like image files, PDFs or, in some cases, common office file formats. It is also worth knowing that most of these apps allow you to scan photos or documents to your mobile device using your multifunction printer’s scanning facility.

Typically these programs register with the device’s operating system as a file-handler for the file types that they can print. Then, when you open one of these files in the operating system, you have the option to open the file with the printer app; which will list the printers on your network that it has discovered and knows it can work with. Subsequently you select the options that suit your needs, such as paper size or duplex printing, and start the print run.

Apple AirPrint

This works with all Apple iOS devices that are up-to-date with a version of iOS 4.2 or newer. At the moment, it only works with HP ePrint-enabled printers and provides a similar print-job experience as what would be expected for desktop printing.

Apple has yet to release this feature to other printer manufacturers so that people can have a choice of printer to work from.

Google Cloud Print

Google is offering a smartphone printing solution known as Google Cloud Print. This solution, which is immature at the time of writing, requires the use of an HP ePrint-capable printer or certain network-enabled Kodak printers for PC-free network printing. Other printers will require a desktop computer to be running a helper application to collect and forward print jobs to that printer.

At the moment, it works in a similar manner to the printer-manufacturer-supplied app setups where the user has to use the app to print out documents. There is a larger choice of applications as shown on this page for mostly the Android and iOS platforms.

Email-to-print

I have covered HP’s ePrint “print-by-email” setup through the review of a handful of ePrint-enabled HP printers. Here, the printer and the smartphone or tablet must see an Internet service for this to work.

As well the printer has to be registered with the HP ePrint service by its owner. Users would have to then send the image, PDF or document file to a special email address that has been determined as part of the printer setup routine. There is the ability to set up a white-list of approved email addresses that can send print jobs to the printer and recently HP enabled the ability for users to determine an easy-to-remember email-to-print address for their printer.

Kodak offers a similar function for some of their network-enabled printers at the moment. But none of the other popular printer manufacturers have established an email-to-print infrastructure that can work with any smartphone or tablet device.

Achieving best results from your mobile-device print setup

An issue that may plague smartphone or tablet users when they print using one of the mobile print solutions, especially the manufacturer-supplied print apps or the Apple AirPrint setup is that the job may be interrupted midway or take an inordinate time to print. It may not be of concern for Google Cloud Print or email-to-print setups because the job would be lodged with an Internet-based server which would resubmit it to the printer.

This can happen if the mobile device isn’t communicating properly with the Wi-Fi network such as through low batteries or being used in an area where there is poor reception. In most cases, it would be a good idea to make sure the battery is charged up or the device is plugged in to its charger; and you are seeing at least three or four bars on the Wi-Fi signal-strength indicator when you are running the print job. This may require you to avoid moving the device around until the print job is complete, which will be indicated on the software.

What can be done

What I would like to see for on-site printing from mobile devices is the use of the UPnP print device classes which I have touched on previously. As well, more printer manufacturers could license or exploit the email-to-print setups that HP and Kodak have established.

As I have said previously, the network printers should also have a larger memory so that  print jobs can be transferred from the client device and held in the printer’s memory until the last page is turned out.

Conclusion

At the moment there isn’t a clear path for setting up a printing solution for your smartphone, tablet computer or similar device that doesn’t need a desktop computer to be available at all times. It all depends on which make and model of printer you are using on your network and, in some cases, what platform you are using for your device.

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Postage stamps from your HP ePrint printer now available in Germany and France

Articles

HP: Briefmarken direkt am Drucker ausdrucken – NETZWELT (Germany – German language)

My translation and comments

In the USA, a service called Stamps.com is using an account-driven setup to turn your printer in to a franking machine (postage meter). This is by you purchasing postage through their Website in a prepaid manner and printing this on to envelopes after you weigh them on postage scales that you buy from Stamps.com. This solution initially needed an application but is now available through a Web-driven setup and is intended to be available through HP ePrint as a printer app.

HP Envy 100 all-in-one printer (D410a)

HP Envy 100 all-in-one printer

Here, the ePrint solution will allow for a “walk-up and buy” arrangement where you can purchase the postage and print it on to your envelope or sheet of paper using your printer without the need for your computer to be on.

Now the post offices in Germany and France have set up “print-and-post” prepaid-postage setups for customers in those countries and have established HP ePrint apps for distribution there. These will be interlinked through portals set up by the relative post offices and has been launched on the 28 September in the Post-Expo trade fair in Stuttgart, Germany.

It will of course be interesting to see whether Royal Mail, Australia Post or other post offices will head to this concept of “print-and-post” postage sales in their territories.

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HP ePrint Improvement–Determine your ePrint address

Article

HP ePrintCenter | It’s here: Pick your printer’s (simpler) email address

My Comments

When you currently set up an HP (Hewlett-Packard) ePrint-enabled printer’s ePrint features, you would receive a random email address for that printer. This would be difficult if you want to keep an easy-to-remember email-to-print address for your household’s or small business’s printer.

Now HP have improved this setup by allowing you to determine a custom email address for that printer. Of course, they have suggested as well that you implement the security functionalities tat are part of ePrint such as the approved senders list so that people who remember your printer’s email address don’t spam it.

There are some questions that I would have with this feature.

One would be whether one can transfer this address to different ePrint machines. This would happen when you relinquish your current ePrint printer and replace it with a newer machine.

Another issue would be whether you could allocate the one address to multiple ePrint printers. The obvious situation that would call for this would be where you have two or more ePrint printers on the one premises; such as a home setup with a B110a or Envy 100 in the living area and a C410a fax-equipped home-office machine in the home office. Or you may have an office setup that has one of the ePrint OfficeJets and an ePrint-enabled LaserJet.

The issues that may arise from this setup would include which printer gets all the ePrint jobs from that address and whether there are any flexible queue options available for these setups. An example of this could be one printer turning out the ePrint jobs but if it is “tied up” either by performing a large print run, needing its supplies replenished or being out-of-commission, the other printer could turn out the jobs.

Conclusion

At least this is one of the many steps to make the HP ePrint function more mature as far as customers are concerned.

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