Most business multi-function printers (MFPs) tend to suffer from drab-if-efficient design. The HP Officejet Pro 8740 All-in-One Printer breaks that mold, offering full four-function capability (print, scan, copy, and fax) along with stylish good looks that flatters even the most modern and elegant home- or small-business office. And the $299 price tag flatters a small business budget.
Superficial looks aside, a small business multifunction printer is only as good as it performs. No worries here; the Officejet Pro 8740 provides very good performance in terms of both print speed and print quality. HP even throws in a second paper tray for no extra charge.
[Learn about printing for less: Brother's INKvestment MFP Lowers the Cost of Printing]
Many printer vendors state a monthly duty cycle in their printer specifications. That figure reflects the absolute maximum number of prints you should subject the device to in a single month. And pushing any printer or MFP to that degree can reduce its life substantially. HP lists the duty cycle for the Officejet Pro 8740 as 30,000 pages.
The "expected monthly volume" is much more realistic number, and the HP Officejet Pro 8740's specification sheet lists that as 200 to 2,000 pages. Two thousand pages equal four reams of paper (or two reams if you print on both sides). That's still a substantial number of pages for a home office or small business to churn out in a month.
The HP Officejet Pro 8740 Unboxed
A rather large machine, the Officejet Pro 8740 measures 19.7- x 17.3- x 16.2-inches and weighs 40.61 pounds. Unlike many competing MFPs from other vendors, the Officejet Pro 8740 doesn't have a pull-out output tray; it’s designed into the front of the printer and extends the MFP's depth by almost eight inches. Once you have it out of the box, you’ll need to place it on a sturdy table—this one’s not going to fit on your desk.
The standard paper drawer has a capacity of 250 sheets of letter or legal-sized paper. However, the MFP also comes with a second 250-sheet paper drawer—which sits under the Officejet Pro 8749—and provides space for additional standard letter or legal-size paper, or different paper stock such as a letterhead or check stock.
The Officejet Pro 8740 does not include a USB or an Ethernet cable, but you do get a standard RJ-11 phone cord to hook up the fax to a landline. And, of course, it comes with CDs for installing the printer, and a second CD with ReadIRIS OCR software.
HP Officejet Pro 8740 Offers Quick and Easy Setup
Most printers and MFPs come with a setup CD, and the Officejet Pro 8740 is no exception. You can perform the install from the CD or, once you attach the MFP to a network with Internet access, you can download the latest driver and utility software.
Before you can do that, you need to install the ink cartridges and set the language, time, and date from the printer's 4.3-inch color touchscreen. The Officejet Pro 8740 supports HP’s Instant Ink program, which lets you pay a fixed monthly fee and print a corresponding volume of pages. The MFP monitors your print use, and HP sends a replacement cartridge, at no additional cost, when the ink gets low.
This provides both a fixed cost-per-page and the assurance that you never run out of ink in the middle of a print job. The Officejet Pro 8740 includes a free three-month trial for the program. A set of standard cartridges will set you back about 90 dollars and yield about 1,000 monochrome or 700 color pages. High-yield XL cartridges produce about 2,000 monochrome pages and 1,600 color pages, and cost about $147 for a complete set of four cartridges.
After you complete the initial setup, the touchscreen shows selections for Copy, Scan, Fax, and Apps at the bottom of the screen. Selecting Apps gets you to Quick Forms, where you can print Calendars, Fax Cover sheets, graph and line paper, and similar forms. You can also choose Private Print, access Google Drive, Scan to email, and access HP’s Printables collection of crafts vendor coupons.
As part of the free JetAdvantage utilities collection, Private Print lets you establish a Web-based print-hold-release account. With this account, you can print to your Web account from anywhere on any Internet-connected device. Simply enter your email and password into a Private Print enabled HP printer or MFP, and you can download and print your document. This keeps the document away from prying eyes. Typically you find hold-and release features only on expensive office equipment, though many of HP’s Officejet Pro printers and MFPs now offer this valuable utility.
The Officejet Pro 8740 provides excellent connectivity options including Wi-Fi and Wi-Fi Direct, USB, NFC (Near Field Communications with Android devices that offer it), and wired Ethernet. In order to complete the printer setup, you must connect the Officejet Pro 8740 to the Internet through your network, which you do by establishing a Wi-Fi connection from the device’s control panel, or by plugging in a USB or Ethernet cable.
The short Setup poster and the miniscule User Guide direct you to HP’s support page, which has the drivers and utilities, and you need to download the install software and drivers to complete the setup. The full install package measured 156MB and took a few minutes to download and a few more to complete. Generally, downloading the latest software is a good idea.
And if you want to use the included second paper tray, just pick up the MFP and place it on top of the second drawer.
HP Officejet Pro 8740 Delivers Excellent Performance
An MFP intended for small business or departmental use must withstand abuse, offer extensive functionality, and deliver superior performance. Since it's the primary machine used by multiple people, it must generate a fair volume of pages and do so quickly.
The Officejet Pro 8740 did not disappoint us any of these areas. HP rates this MFP as capable of printing up to 24 pages per minute (ppm) in monochrome. We test print speed using the Word and Excel document sets from the ISO Printer Productivity Test Suite, and our results were a bit better. Printing a four-page, mostly monochrome Word document with a small color logo, the Officejet Pro 8740 produced an impressive 28 ppm.
The Excel document we use combines monochrome tables and color graphs, and the Officejet Pro 8740 MFP hit speeds of almost 19 ppm. Between the two tests, it delivered an average print speed of 23 ppm—that's excellent performance for an MFP at this price.
The Officejet Pro 8740 MFP also produced superior print quality. It reproduced colors accurately and, when printed on HP Glossy Photo Paper, almost achieved photo quality. Our prints on HP Premium Presentation Paper were also color accurate and well saturated, and we recommend using this paper for important reports and handouts.
We don’t usually time am MFP's copying function, but the Officejet Pro 8740's impressive print speeds piqued our curiosity. Copying a 40-page Word document took slightly less than four minutes in color and two minutes and twenty seconds in monochrome, which makes it a reasonable device for moderate copying. The Officejet Pro 8740 includes a duplexing ADF—for making two-sided copies—and separate controls for copying and scanning ID Cards.
We hit one pothole during our testing; scanning and printing one of our photo-quality test files. The scan looked accurate on the screen, but the printout showed a noticeably yellowish cast. On the plus side, a USB port on the MFP's front panel lets you scan-to or print-from a USB drive.
[Learn about 3D printing: Small Business 3D Printers: A Beginner's Guide]
HP Officejet Pro 8740 Delivers Excellent Value
Overall, we found the Officejet Pro 8740 an excellent choice for a departmental or SMB multifunction printer. It offers all four of the basic office functions, includes built-in apps, and provides excellent connectivity. As with most modern printers, it offers smartphone and tablet printing support for Apple AirPrint, Android OS Enablement Printing, Mopria and, of course, HP’s own ePrint.
The second input tray is a nice extra you won’t often find at this price point. And, for people who use graphics software, the device offers Postscript 3 emulation in addition to the standard PCL.
Given everything you get for your three hundred dollars, we rate the Officejet Pro 8740 a very good value.
Ted Needleman published his first review in 1978. Since then, he has written several thousand hardware and software reviews, columns, articles on using technology, and two books. He has no intention of stopping any time soon.
|Do you have a comment or question about this article or other small business topics in general? Speak out in the SmallBusinessComputing.com Forums. Join the discussion today!|