If someone gave you an HP Officejet Pro X576dw Multifunction Printer to work with and didn’t tell you it was an inkjet, odds are you’d swear it was a laser. Or if you knew it was an inkjet, you’d think it was using Memjet technology—the promised fast new inkjet design that’s gotten a lot of publicity. But the X576dw isn’t either one. Inside the box is HP’s own inkjet design. Outside, it looks like a laser, feeds paper a laser, and performs like a laser. That makes it laser-class, much like Xerox’s solid ink printers, which are also inkjets and also head-to-head laser competition. As a laser-class printer, the X576dw is a strong contender for light to moderate-duty use in a small to medium-size office or workgroup. It’s also impressive enough to make it a runaway pick for Editors’ Choice.
The X576dw has more than the laser-class designation in common with solid-ink printers like the Xerox ColorQube 8870DN. It takes advantage of the same essential design feature to boost performance to fast laser territory, with the printhead running from one edge of the page to the other (and with a 0.17-inch non-printable margin on each side). That lets the printer move the paper continuously to spray the ink in one sweep past the printhead. More important, it translates to a 42 page per minute (ppm) engine rating. (That’s actually a conservative number, but we’ll come back to that later.)
Not so incidentally, Memjet technology, which still isn’t available in the U.S. at this writing, uses the same edge-to-edge design concept. But while we’ve all been waiting for Memjet desktop printers, HP was quietly working on what amounts to a variation on its Edgeline technology, moving it from floor-standing MFPs that cost five figures to desktop models built around what HP calls HP PageWide Technology.
Along with the X576dw, the new PageWide printers include the single-function Editors’ Choice HP Officejet Pro X551dw Printer and four other models—two multifunction and two single-function—which we will be reviewing as they become available. The X576dw is the high-end MFP version of this first generation of PageWide printers.
As you might expect for a top-of-the-line model, the X576dw offers just about every office-oriented MFP function you can think of. It can print and fax from, as well as scan to, a PC, including over a network; work as a standalone copier, fax machine, and email sender; and both scan to and print from a USB memory key.
It also supports various mobile print applications and HP’s online print apps. Connect it to a network that’s connected to the Internet, and you can print to it through the cloud; print to it through a Wi-Fi access point on your network using Apple AirPrint or HP’s own mobile print app; and print with HP’s online apps, using the 4.3-inch front-panel color touch screen to give commands. And because it also offers Wireless Direct—HP’s equivalent to Wi-Fi direct—you can connect to it directly from a smartphone, laptop, or tablet to print wirelessly even if it’s not on a network.
The printer also offers ample paper handling, with a 500-sheet drawer, 50-sheet multipurpose tray, and duplexer (for two-sided printing) standard, and with an optional 500-sheet drawer ($199 direct) also available. Note too that the paper comes out face down in the output tray, as with a laser, so documents don’t have to print in reverse order for page one to be at the front, rather than the back, of the stack.
For scanning, the X576dw offers both a legal-size flatbed and a 50-sheet automatic document feeder (ADF). Even better, the ADF can copy, scan, or fax two-sided pages by turning the page over to scan the second side. In combination with the print duplexer, it lets you copy both single-and double-sided originals to your choice of single-or double-sided copies. Also very much worth mention is that the touch-screen control panel offers well-designed menus that make it easy to change settings and give commands.
Setup and Speed
The X576dw is a little smaller than some comparable lasers, but it’s still relatively big, at 20.3 by 20.3 by 15.7 inches (HWD). It’s also heavy enough, at 53 pounds, that you might want help moving it into place. Setup, however, is arguably easier than with most inkjets or lasers. There’s more packing tape than usual to remove, but once the tape is off, physical setup consists of little more than sliding the four ink cartridges into place without having to prepare the cartridges in any way. The rest of the setup is standard.
For my tests, I connected the X576dw to a wired network and installed the drivers and software on a Windows Vista system. I timed it on our business applications suite (using QualityLogic’s hardware and software for timing) at an effective 9.5 pages per minute (ppm), which makes it one of the fastest color laser-class MFPs we’ve seen at any price. The somewhat more expensive Editors’ Choice Dell C3765dnf Color Laser Printer ($1,099, 4 stars), for example, came in at only 8.3 ppm. Also worth mention, because the X576 offers reasonably good photo quality, is that it averaged just 26 seconds for a 4 by 6 on photo paper.
More About Speed
In most laser and laser-class printer reviews, we simply mention that the rated speed is close to what you’ll see with text documents with little to no formatting. However, as the first printer we’ve reviewed with HP PageWide Technology, the X576dw deserves a look at the details.
On my tests with a text document, using the printer’s default setting of Professional mode and ignoring the first page (which takes extra time), I clocked the printer at 44 ppm, a bit faster than HP claims. Even more impressive, however, when I switched to General Office mode the speed jumped to 66 ppm. In addition, the printer offers a Presentation mode, which dropped the speed to 38 ppm. As is typical for any printer, both of these modes also affect output quality, with the General Office mode offering a little lower quality, and the Presentation mode offering a little higher quality, than the default mode.
Output Quality and Other Issues
Output quality in the default Professional mode counts as another strong point. Black text and black fills in graphics are just a touch grayish, and colors are a little dulled down on plain paper, but the output is otherwise excellent, giving the X576dw above-par text and photo quality and par-quality graphics overall.
Text quality is one step below the top tier for color laser MFPs, which makes it easily good enough for virtually any business use. Graphics quality, similarly, is good enough for any use up to and including output going to clients or customers who you want to impress with a sense of your professionalism. Also important is that, at least on the ColorLok plain paper we use for testing, the output resists smearing if you get it wet. Depending on how critical an eye you have, you may well consider text, graphics, and photos suitable for marketing materials like trifold brochures or one-page handouts.
Photo quality is the one area where the X576dw behaves more like an inkjet than a laser, which means higher quality than you’ll get with a laser. I saw some banding on a black and white photo, but color photos qualified as true photo quality, at the low end of what you might expect from drugstore prints.
Still another strong point is the X576dw’s low claimed cost per page, at 1.3 cents for a mono page and 6.8 cents for a color page. As a point of reference, the Dell C3765dnf claims a 0.2 cent higher cost for mono and 3.2 cents higher cost for color, which means the X576dw not only costs less to buy, but the savings in total cost of ownership grows with every page you print.
To say that the HP Officejet Pro X576dw Multifunction Printer is highly capable is an understatement. Its combination of fast speed, high-quality output, and excellent paper handling, plus the conveniences of a 4.3-inch touch screen and the long list of MFP features, put it way out in front of the pack, even without considering its low cost per page. If you’re hesitant about getting a printer with a new twist on inkjet technology, you might be more comfortable with the Dell C3765dnf. However the HP Officejet Pro X576dw Multifunction Printer offers more printer at a lower price, making it an easy pick for Editors’ Choice.
More Multifunction Printer Reviews:
|Standalone Copier and Fax||Copier, Fax|
|Direct Printing from Cameras||No|
|Rated Speed at Default Settings (Color)||42 ppm|
|Rated Speed at Default Settings (Mono)||42 ppm|
|Maximum Standard Paper Size||Legal|
|Technology (for laser category only)||Page-wide Array|
|Connection Type||USB, Ethernet, Wireless|
Copyright © 2012 Ziff Davis, Inc