These days the printers that often receive the most ink, so to speak, are "prosumer" models that squeeze more and more multi-function features into lower and lower price tags. Capable of meeting the light-duty needs of many home offices and small businesses, the sub-$300 category covers a hefty percentage of the market. But what if those options don’t meet your small business printer needs?
Then you move up to printers aimed at the medium-sized business, which includes smaller businesses with above-average printing and scanning needs. The HP LaserJet Enterprise Color Flow MFP M575c doesn’t cost $300—the street price runs closer to $3,000. What do you get in this multifunction business printer for all that extra dough?
A Multifunction Printer in a Very Big Box
The M575c is heavy duty in more ways than one. The unit weighs more than 100 pounds, and you need two people to set it up. Out of the box it's designed to sit on a desktop, but make sure that desk is wide and sturdy—a rickety side table just won’t do. Optionally, you can buy a base cabinet (model CF085A, $350), which lets the M575c stand on the floor.
Figure 1: This is no lightweight MFP. The heavy-duty HP LaserJet M575c handles high-volume printing and scanning jobs with ease.
Like most MFP’s, the M575c's scanner portion sits on top of its laser printer body. It sports two paper trays: a 100-sheet side-mounted tray with easy access for irregular or manual feed media, and a 250-sheet conventional bottom tray. You can purchase an optional third 500-sheet tray (model CF084A) for $350.
The printer includes the typical inputs for a direct USB connection or an Ethernet network jack. Note though that despite its business-class status, the M575c does not include built-in wireless networking. To connect to a wireless network, you’ll need one of HP’s wireless Jetdirect print servers.
Walk-up Printing and Scanning Productivity
Many MFP’s now offer a small display to directly control printing and scanning functions, which lets you perform many jobs without a computer at all. The M575c invites serious walk-up potential, with its tablet-sized 8-inch touch-screen display and full-sized, pull-out keyboard. The embedded operating system that powers the M575c is easy to navigate and supports advanced business-class features such as user accounts with their own settings and print jobs.
Sophisticated print management separates the M575c from the less expensive, light-duty models. Jobs You can not only manage—stop, start, and pause—jobs directly from the printer, but you can view logs of completed jobs and even send saved jobs to the printer from individual computers for printing at a later time. For example, you might save a large job with 100 pages to print after business hours, when it won’t compete with smaller jobs.
Strangely though, the M575c lacks a few convenience features that you typically find in lesser MFPs. For example, the M575c provides a USB port for attaching a thumb drive. While you can print documents directly from the thumb drive, the device supports a very limited range of formats—the only common type being PDF. Printing common files—like JPG photos or plain text files—from a thumb drive is a no-go, which seems like a missed opportunity considering the robust walkup interface.