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Printers, Printers Everywhere

Category: Hardware Published on Thursday, 19 January 2017
Sitting in front of me are four printers of various shapes and sizes. All of them have qualities that make them "different" from each other. They all do the job well and they all have some flaws.
With that in mind we'll begin with the monster in the room - - - due to its size and capabilities.
The Hewlett Packard (HP) OfficeJet Pro 7740 Wide Format Printer ($249) weighs in at a hefty 42.9 pounds and can consume a big chunk of real estate in a small office. But the sacrifice is worth it!
This behemoth was able to handle every job we foisted upon it - - - from 4 by 5 photos to 11 by 17-inch posters - - - without a glitch. And the results rivaled those of many laser printers we've played with.
The printer comes with two 250-sheet paper trays, four "starter" inkjet cartridges and a phone cord for the fax. If you plan on running a lot of jobs through this printer, you may want to purchase a set of high-yield cartridges, because the "starter" pack is only good for about 650 pages (about 1,000 if you only print in black and white).
It does everything you'd expect from an office machine - - - faxing, scanning, copying and, of course, printing. Plus you can use its mobile printing app to print from a mobile device or smartphone.
Also, it can be the center of your printhub system by connecting wirelessly or via Ethernet cables to the computers in your office or hook up to a single PC using an USB cable.
Other key features include:
  • 100-page fax memory
  • Speed-dial of up to 99 phone numbers
  • Automatic two-sided printing
  • It prints 21 black and white pages per minute and 17 color
  • It can print, scan and copy documents up to 11 by 17 inches and fax 8.5 by 11-inch documents
  • A LCD touchscreen control panel
  • A 35-sheet automatic document feeder
The second printer weighs in at 55 pounds, but takes up less real estate then the HP.
The XYZPrinting DaVinci Pro 3-in-1 ($899) is a triple-threat 3D printer. This printer is able to create the usual small plastic objects expected from a desktop 3D printer, but this is the only one we've played with that can scan objects to create image files and use its laser to etch text on a variety of objects.
Its versatility and the quality of its plastic reproductions are among the best we've seen. Unfortunately we can't be as complimentary when it comes to scanning..
It seems to work fine with larger, simply shaped objects, but throw it a few curves (in design) and it can miss some delicate details, which can result in a poor 3D print.
We also had a problem with extremely small objects, which ended up being small clumps of plastic during the printing process.
Lastly, this DaVinci Pro can take quite a bit longer than its rivals to complete a print job.  The caveat here is that you will probably get a much better plastic model using this printer than the competition.
Other key features include:
  • It can use PLA and ABS filaments
  • It can print objects up to 7.87 inches long and wide by 3.54 inches tall (which is larger than many desktop 3D printers)
  • It has a 3.5-inch LCM display panel
  • It can connect to computers using USB or Wi-Fi (printing only)
Epson's Expression ET-3600 Eco Tank All-in-One Supertank Printer ($399) is the second so-called Supertank printer we've played with. We've had the first one (the ET-4550) for about a year and still haven't run out of ink.
This one is a bit smaller than the ET-4550, but has retained all of its features including the use of ink bottles instead of cartridges. This results in longer periods before ink needs to be replaced.
This also justifies the higher price. In fact, the folks at Epson boast that the printing capacity of the two sets of ink bottles that come with the printer equals about 50 sets of cartridges, which results in hundreds of dollars in savings. This is equivalent to printing 11,000 black and white or 8,500 color pages before you need to buy more ink.
This is a 3-in-1 printer, which means it can print, copy and scan documents but lacks a phone port for a fax. For that you need the ET-4550 or one of the many 4-in-1 printers the company manufactures.
Print quality is exceptional, rivaling laser printers, which seems to be the norm these days for most of the higher-end inkjet printers. We pushed everything from pictures to long graphic-laden documents through it without a hitch.
Other key features include:
  • A 2.2-inch LCD touchscreen
  • Automatic two-sided printing
  • A 150-sheet paper capacity
  • WiFi and USB compatibility
  • Print heads are in the printer and not on cartridges
  • It prints 13.7 black and 7 color pages per minute
  • Mobile device compatibility using either an Android or Apple app
The last member of this quartet is also the smallest. The Epson Expression XP-640 Small-in-One All-in-One Printer ($149.99) is basically what we've come to expect in an inkjet printer.
This one uses five cartridges (thee color and two black); can print, scan and copy documents and has USB and 3-in-1 memory card slots that enable it to print without a PC. It also has a special CD tray to print images on CDs and DVDs.
Print quality is typical for inkjet machines that use cartridges - - - not as crisp as the others reviewed here, but decent enough for day-to-day print jobs.
Also, expect to print about 250 pages before replacing the standard cartridges. Epson's high yield cartridges will last for about 550 pages.
Other key features include:
  • A 2.7-inch LCD screen
  • Automatic two-sided printing
  • 13 pages per minute black and 10 color
  • Print and share Facebook and Instagram photos
  • Dedicated trays for printing photos and CDs
  • Input tray holds 100 sheets of plain paper
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