The HP Officejet Pro X551dw is the first example of an in-house developed inkjet printer with a page-width head. This may sound unspectacular or just confusing, but it could herald a new class of fast business printers with the colour print quality of inkjets and the speed of lasers.
Most inkjet printers have a print head that passes from side to side across the paper, as the paper is fed forward a strip at a time. This is slow and prone to misalignments from one strip to the next. HP’s new Officejet Pro X551dw has a print head that runs the full width of the paper so it can be fed continuously, as with a laser.
Unlike a laser printer, though, it still has the much wider colour gamut of liquid inkjet inks, so its colour quality, on plain or photo paper, is like its cheaper, slower cousins. The technology has been used before in high-end HP EdgeLine production printers and in some commercial kiosk machines, designed to print photos in chemists and photo shops. This is the first time it has been utilised in a general office printer though.
The HP Officejet Pro X551dw is a big, unconventional looking machine. Its 500-sheet main paper tray is positioned to the right of the print engine, though there’s also a 50-sheet multi-purpose feed set into the left-hand side. Pages feed out from the right-hand side of the case, near the top, once a small flap has lifted automatically when a print job starts. They feed onto an inclined support which sits above the feed tray, with a gap for an office ornament between the two.
At the top of the machine is a 109mm LCD touchscreen, which controls its functions and provides access to ePrint apps, if you’ve downloaded any. At the back are USB and 10/100 Ethernet sockets, but a wireless connection is the most flexible connectivity option.
The four ink cartridges, which like the print head are as wide as an A4 sheet, slide in from the front and click into place in what must be the easiest maintenance manoeuvre yet devised. Cartridges are available in standard and high yield, with the high yield version rated at 6,600 for colour and a whopping 9,200 for black.