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HP Officejet Pro 276dw - Print Speeds, Quality and Costs

By Simon Williams

Reviewed:

Summary

Our Score:

7

HP Officejet Pro 276dw – Print Speeds

HP rates the OfficeJet Pro 276dw at 20ppm black and 15ppm colour. It's hard to check these figures, as the machine is erratic in its printing. It can start printing in under 10s, but if it chooses to housekeep first, it will be making squeaky noises for anything up to 30s before the first page feeds.

During printing, you can expect further delays as the machine pauses for up to 3s part-way through printing each page. We assume this is to allow for ink drying, but is a retrograde step, as early machines, such as the HP Officejet Pro 8600 Plus, a similar printer using the same cartridges, didn't do it.

That machine is also £50 cheaper.

HP Officejet Pro 276dw - Open

We saw a maximum speed of 9.1ppm printing our 20-page black text document (compared with 13.6ppm from the 8600 Plus), with 8.1 for the 5-page text (9.1 from the 8600 Plus). The 20-side duplex test gave 5.5 sides per minute and a five-page copy took 41s. None of these speeds are particularly impressive.

HP Officejet Pro 276dw – Print Quality and Costs

Text quality was generally good, not quite as crisp as with some other HP machines, though marginally better than from, for example, the Epson WorkForce Pro range. Colour graphics, though, were marred by mis-registration from one print swathe to the next, producing jaggies in the print. Photos were good, with smooth colour changes and natural hues. Shadows tended to be too dark, though.

HP Officejet Pro 276dw - Cartridges

The black cartridge is available in two yields, though the colour ones are only supplied in one capacity. Using highest yield consumables gives page costs of 1.8p for black and 4.9p for colour, both of which are very good and undercut equivalent laser print costs by a considerable margin.

Should I buy an Officejet Pro 276dw?

How long have you got? If you want to use this machine in an office, even a home office, you’re likely to find yourself waiting for multi-page prints. Assuming the unit we tested was typical, the printer is noticeably slower than at least one, cheaper HP Officejet Pro and the slow speed comes from an annoying pause in printing, rather than slow print, per se.

Speed isn’t the only requirement in a printer, of course, but the print quality is not that hot, either. The all-in-one is well-endowed, with wireless, network and USB, duplex scan as well as print and an easy-to-use touchscreen. It only has one paper tray, though you can add a second, and can’t print directly from a camera.

Why not check out out our round-up of best printers

Verdict

The Officejet Pro 276dw is a solid, well-made printer, but spends much too much time thinking about things. It can be nearly half a minute before it starts printing and a 10-page document will take 30s longer than it should, because of unwarranted pauses. There are faster, cheaper, better designed SOHO all-in-ones – at least one of them from HP.

garywood84

December 20, 2013, 12:10 pm

I bought this to replace a HP OfficeJet Pro L7680, which is essentially a six year old ancestor of the same multifunction printer series. The old printer needed a new cyan and magenta printhead, and its software isn't 100% compatible with Windows 8, so I decided to upgrade to this HP OfficeJet Pro 276dw.

The first machine I received was dead on arrival. The print head was blocked and black print had white stripes through it which cleaning cycles did not resolve. I had excellent service from my supplier, which replaced it quickly.

The second machine worked fine, but I was initially disappointed by the print quality. Despite using pigment inks, the print wasn't sharp on the page, and black text was very noticeably grey rather than black. There was a clear contrast between this machine and the L7680 I was replacing: the L7680 could print black text sharper and with a much deeper black than the new device, despite being six years old! Over a couple of days experimenting, I found that the paper type made a big difference to the quality, which is unusual for pigment inks. It turns out that HP recommends using paper with (it's own!) ColorLok technology, and that did give much sharper results and black was truer black (still not as good as the old L7680, though). ColorLok paper is available from many manufacturers (not just HP) for only a couple of pounds a box more than the paper I usually use, so I accepted that I'd just buy different paper in future.

Later in the week, I tried to do some copying of a couple of pages from a book. It was a double-page spread, so the pages weren't perfectly flat on the glass across the spine. This had never been a problem on the old L7680, which produced some of the clearest, sharpest copies I've ever seen from any device. However, the new machine's copy was dreadful. Anywhere the book hadn't sat perfectly flat on the glass, the copy was blurred. I researched this online and discovered that HP now uses CIS scanner heads in place of the CCD heads in their older machines. The only reason for this is cost: high end standalone scanners still use CCD technology because it gives better quality. The problem with CIS is that it can only focus on the glass itself, and any object that's slightly above the glass -- like the book spine -- therefore comes out blurred. CCDs don't have this problem and can focus for some distance above the glass. I tried copying the same page with the old machine, and it was massively better quality (despite the fact that the printer needed a new head).

In the end, I concluded that despite being HPs top of the range OfficeJet Pro device, HP has done too much cost cutting. The ink in the older machine works better across different paper types and gives sharper results, and the CCD technology in the older scanner gives much better results on anything other than single loose sheet copying. So, I returned the new machine, and bought new printheads for my trusty L7680 for less than half the price I'd paid for the new machine! They arrived this morning, and the L7680 is now as good as new, and producing much better output than the new 276dw did.

Overall, I was very disappointed with the 276dw. I'd hoped it would be at least as good as the earlier HP device it was replacing, but this proved not to be the case. I hope that HP sorts this out before my L7680 finally has to be replaced, because otherwise, I'll have to look elsewhere.

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