Ink in the enterprise

While most business users think that laser printing is the only option, that couldn't be further from the truth.

Office printing has been dominated for decades by laser technology, plus its closely related LED-powered competitor. In contrast, the inkjet has been mostly confined to the home user and specialist graphics or photo work. The main reason for this disparity is the common misconception that inkjet printing is significantly slower than laser printing, but in reality that's simply not the case. 

HP's Officejet Pro X has proved this point. In fact, the Officejet Pro X551dw and X576dw MFP are rated as the fastest desktop printers in the world*, producing 500 colour sheets in just seven minutes and 19.25 seconds. This equates to slightly more than 68 pages per minute, and corroborates the 70 pages per minute print rate that HP claims. The Officejet Pro X can achieve this amazing feat thanks to its PageWide technology. Traditionally, inkjets have a head that must travel back and forth across the page like a weaving loom to deposit its ink, which limits print speed and even makes speed a trade-off against quality. But with PageWide the head is the full width of the page, so no shuttling is required, and the accuracy of dot placement on the page should also be enhanced. A page can be printed in a single pass, like a laser printer.

The Officejet Pro X printers boast extremely low per-page costs as well. A monochrome page costs under 2p, with a colour page under 8p, and this falls to below 1p per monochrome page and under 4p per colour page using higher yield cartridges. This makes it cheaper to run than the majority of laser printers, even in high volume situations. However, HP's Officejets have generally been branch office or SMB printers. They haven't offered the features for enterprise departmental deployment. Nevertheless, the speed and cost of the Officejet Pro X make it an ideal candidate, and thankfully HP has seen the potential too. So it has launched the Officejet Enterprise X.

The Enterprise X combines the PageWide technology of the Pro X with a range of powerful features to meet the needs of every size of business. The Enterprise X can easily be deployed as a fleet, with support for HP's Web Jetadmin management tool. This allows you to administer all of your Officejet Enterprise X printers from one central location. Prices start at under 600 for the HP Officejet Enterprise Color X555dn Printer. The X555xh adds a 320GB secure encrypted hard disk, so that documents sent to the printer can be kept safe when sent across the network, until the person printing them applies the necessary pass code. This feature comes as standard in all the multifunction models, too.

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The print-only models are locally controlled by 4.3in colour SVGA touch screens, whilst the multifunction models offer colour 8in touch screens. The screens provide access to the HP FutureSmart operating system that is used to control the printer functions. FutureSmart allows paper documents to be combined with digital content seamlessly. This is upgradeable software, so adding new features and capabilities is just an update away. Upgrades can be performed with the device's built-in web server or HP's Web Jetadmin management tool, and ensure the printer's abilities remain up-to-date for the lifetime of the hardware.

There's mobile printing available via NFC from compatible smartphones, so you just need to bring a mobile device in close proximity to print. An employee can receive a document on their device, and then use any nearby company-networked printer to print the document out. This facility can be added via the HP JetDirect 2800w NFC/Wireless Direct Accessory, which integrates with the FutureSmart operating system.

The multifunction devices add scan and copy capabilities to the enterprise-grade printing, starting with the X585dn. The X585f then augments this with fax facilities, whilst the X585z includes an integrated keyboard and a high-capacity input tray with ultrasonic double-feed detect. The multifunction models also include a Hardware Integration Pocket into which can be installed a variety of optional extras. For example, a proximity card reader can be added, so employees can use this to log into the printer and execute the print jobs they have sent without needing to enter a password or pass code manually.

The HP Officejet Enterprise Color Flow X585z Multifunction Printer also connects to HP's Flow CM cloud-based content management system, allowing it to operate as a fluid and dynamic interface between physical printing and electronically scanned documents. Convenient sharing and notification tools are integrated, so that workflows can be streamlined and collaboration performed more productively. Scanned documents can automatically be converted to editable text using optical character recognition (OCR), and the results stored in a document management system.

Apart from the headline speed and cost benefits, the Officejet Enterprise X printers offer durability that keeps pace with enterprise laser printers. All boast a recommended monthly print volume of 6,000 pages, and a duty cycle of up to 80,000 pages per month. All offer duplex printing as standard. There are high capacity paper trays that can hold up to 1,050 sheets, with a 500-sheet main tray, 50-sheet multi-purpose tray, and the option of a second 500-sheet tray. So these printers can be true office workhorses, able to meet all the demands of a busy enterprise. And since the Officejet Enterprise X doesn't use fuser, energy consumption is less than most colour laser printers in the same class.

Enterprise businesses have a real choice now when it comes to laser or ink technology. Whereas previously laser printers were the only option if your company needed high-volume, high-speed printing services, now the inkjet can be a very viable alternative. In the shape of the HP Officejet Enterprise X, the inkjet can give the laser printer a real run for its money, providing the same high-end features and potentially faster, cheaper running as well.

*Based on published fastest print speeds for the HPX551dw and X576dw models compared to laser and inkjet colour desktop MFPs < 800 and printers < 650 validated by WirthConsulting.org Jan.2013. For more information, see hp.com/go/printerspeeds.

For more advice on transforming your business, visit HP BusinessNow

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