Multifunction Printer: The Out-of-Box Experience
Thanks to the clear setup guide and documentation, as well as animations on the unit's LCD panel and handy color-coding on HP's part, setting up the 7500A took us no time at all. First, we connected the power cord (a rather large brick type); turned the unit on; set the language and region on the touch screen; and snapped the print head and cyan, magenta, yellow and black ink cartridges into place.
From there, we loaded paper and, while the multifunction printer finished running initial diagnostics (such as paper alignment), installed the bundled drivers and software before connecting the Officejet to our Windows 7 test system via USB.
Wizards also walk you through Wi-Fi and Fax setup right on the LCD panel. To copy, scan, fax or access HP's Web Apps, you select the function you want from the unit's display. HP's Internet-enabled apps reside on the unit to let you bypass your PC to print certain types of documents and content directly from the Web. There is some business material available, but most of the files (at this point, anyway) fall more on the consumer-side of the equation.
Business Printer Performance Testing
With ratings of 10 pages per minute (ppm) monochrome and 7 ppm color in normal quality mode and first-page out times of 16 seconds and 19 seconds respectively, HP clearly is not setting the 7500A up as a speed demon. Its draft printout ratings of up to 33 ppm monochrome and 32 ppm color, however, are considerably better.
In terms of actual performance, the 7500A multifunction printer did well for an inkjet at its level. We tested the business printer with a variety of tasks, and here are the speed results:
- A single-page text document with a little color: 9 seconds
- A single image- and color-rich page: 26 seconds
- A five-page, mixed-media PDF with lots of text, pictures and graphics: 1 minute and 8 seconds
- A six-slide PowerPoint presentation with a blue background: 2 minutes and 26 seconds
- A six-slide PowerPoint presentation with a white background: 1 minute and 25 seconds
- A 58-page, mixed-media document: 8 minutes and 2 seconds
Although those numbers are not close to HP's estimates (most printers never achieve that in real-world testing), they are respectable nonetheless. We never felt we had to wait too long for output. The average first page-to-print times closed in nearer to HP's specs, at about 19 seconds for color black and 24 seconds for color printouts.
We had no complaints about print quality, which was surprisingly laser-like in its appearance for both monochrome and color output, even under normal and not the higher-quality settings. The color images were rich and accurate, particularly with pictures, and the text was very readable and crisply rendered.
The 7500A copied a single document with text and a couple of images in about 20 seconds. That same document took only 12 seconds to copy in monochrome. Both copies looked nearly identical to the original, the only exception being the lack of color in the latter version. The printer allows you to make a maximum of 100 copies at a time.
Like most inkjets, it's not the up-front price that hits your pocketbook the hardest; it's the cost of keeping the 7500A supplied with ink that really hurts. HP offers low- and high-yield ink cartridges for the 7500A. A 420-page black cartridge goes for $19.99, and the 1,200-page one sells for $31.99. The 300-page cyan, magenta and yellow cartridges cost $9.99 apiece, while the 700-page versions cost $14.99 each.
All things considered, the Officejet 7500A is a good-quality inkjet-based multifunction printer. Sure, it's not the fastest in the world, but the quality of its output, ease-of-use, setup, and elegant design make it good choice for small businesses that need a reasonably priced way (at least upfront) to print, copy, scan and fax larger-sized media on occasion.
Small businesses that plan to work with tabloid or wider output on a regular basis, however, should check out a laser option that can handle a higher workload, although it'll cost a lot more upfront.
James Alan Miller is a contributing writer for Small Business Computing,, EnterpriseMobileToday.com and HardwareCentral.com.
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