HP Officejet Pro X576dw review

HP launches a superb fast and efficient MFP with proprietary printhead technology.

IT Pro Innovation
Price
£556
  • Fast printing; Copying and scanning; Low ink cost and power consumption; Good quality results
  • Photo prints lack impact on plain paper

HP's latest multifunction peripheral (MFP) shows there's a revolution brewing in the world of inkjets.

As part of HP's Officejet Pro X range of single and multi-function devices, the X576dw is an affordable and compact workgroup inkjet. Its print speeds also rival production colour lasers. HP says that printing at the lower General Office' quality it can reach nippy 70 pages per minute (ppm), making it the fastest desktop colour printer'.

The X576dw employs similar technology as the Lomond's Evojet Office to help it print quickly. In a regular inkjet, the page must be stepped through the printer while small heads traverse it, spraying ink. The Evojet Office and HP's new range use stationary heads which cover the width of the page, coating it with ink as it moves without pausing underneath. Lomond has licensed Memjet's waterfall heads, but HP's has developed its own technology in-house.

The comparison with the Evojet is interesting, but in truth HP's sights are fixed squarely on the colour laser competition, such as the Xerox WorkCentre 6605DN. Print speed aside, the two MFPs share similar specifications and price the Officejet is 75 more expensive at the time of writing. Is HP's inkjet upstart really a better workgroup device than a tried and tested colour laser?

Installation

With fewer moving parts than an equivalent laser the Officejet X576dw is lighter, but its footprint is still typical of a medium workgroup printer. There's some extra space inboard, given over to a cubbyhole under the curved paper output tray which itself is more of a shelf. It's a clever and distinctive design that creates the perfect storage space for a spare ream, or a stock of headed paper and envelopes.

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At 24kg the X576dw is light enough that it can be unpacked and installed single-handedly, but its size does make it handful. While it generates little heat and accordingly needs little ventilation, you'll need to leave a foot or so free at the left in order to use the multipurpose feed.

This quirk aside, this MFP's is well designed and offers impressive quality. The main 500-sheet paper tray feels robust, as do the hinges holding up the scanner lid and its inbuilt 50-sheet automatic document feeder (ADF). Many similar devices are covered with buttons, but the X576dw is controlled through a smartphone-sized colour touchscreen display that's surrounded by a few touch-sensitive buttons. This may make the device sound like a consumer printer, but it removes clutter and provides users with an increasingly familiar experience. The system remained intuitive and responsive during our tests, even when we performed a walkup scan while the printer served a long network print job. The whole panel can be tilted from about 45 degrees to fully vertical.

We're glad to report that HP has improved its print driver, and the software supplied here is near-perfect. The software presents all the everyday options on a single tab rather than sending the hapless user digging for them. We wish we could say the same for the TWAIN scan interface, but unfortunately this is oversimplified. While it's fine for most office scan jobs, users must pick from predefined resolutions, and they're denied access altogether to more advanced settings like unsharp mask.

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