HP’s Officejet Pro X: Is Innovation in Printing Back?

HP’s new Officejet X printer

I really didn’t think I’d ever say that the anachronistic printing space would be something that I would be writing about in the age of the ubiquitous mobile device.  After all, who needs to print anything anymore, right?

Yes, that’s a rhetorical question.  Years ago, people envisioned a future that included a paper-free office.  That utopian future has been supplanted by one with millions of trees crying out all at once as they’re turned into the weekly TPS report.

Long gone are the days of any kind of real innovation in printing, right?  Now we just deal with managing these devices and hoping that the cost comes down so that we can save a few bucks in the budget.

Not so fast!

After making an initial product announcement in late 2012, HP this month began shipping their new Officejet X printer, the latest inkjet printer to join the ranks of other HP products.  At first, you may dismiss this as just another inkjet printer not worthy of consideration, but if HP’s claims are to be believed and the technology in this device holds up, we might be seeing actual innovation in a sector that has remained stagnant for many years.

Going the distance

The HP Officejet X print head sports 42,240 individual print nozzles, each automatically capped between print jobs

The new Officejet X printer has a number of features that quickly differentiate it from the color inkjet printer you threw away last year.  Most importantly, the Officejet X printer uses HP’s PageWide technology.  Rather than using a single print head that speeds back and forth across the page – all the while shaking your table – the new Officejet X uses an 8.5”wide print head that sports a whopping 42,240 print nozzles, each injecting ink onto paper as it moves through the printer.  The nozzles are arranged so that there are 1,200 nozzles per inch, resulting in high definition output.  In fact, because the print head is fixed in this device and never needs replacing or maintenance, the only thing that actually moves inside the printer is the paper.  That alone should make this a pretty reliable unit.

But, what’s truly impressive is the sheer performance of the device.  Laser printers have long been considered the speed kings of the working world, but the Officejet X will give even the best one a serious run for its money… and speaking of money, there’s an upside there, too, but let’s talk about performance first.

In what HP calls “Professional Mode,” which is the default print setting, the unit can spit out 40 black and white pages per minute.  That’s pretty impressive until you learn that “General Office Mode,” which is of slightly less print quality, but perfectly suitable for most environments, will allow the unit to operate at speeds of up to 70 pages per minute.

From an inkjet.

In full color mode, the unit is still a speed demon, printing at a rate of 22 pages per minute in Professional Mode and up to 33 pages per minute in General Office Mode.

From a cost perspective, HP claims that the Officejet X will produce output that costs up to 50% less per page than color laser printers, with this fine print accompanying the claim:

Cost per page (CPP) claim is based on the majority of color laser MFPs <$1000 USD MSRP and color laser printers <$800 USD MSRP as of March 2012, ISO yield based on continuous printing in default mode based on market share as reported by IDC as of Q1 2012. CPP comparisons for laser supplies are based on published specifications of the manufacturers’ highest capacity cartridges. CPP based on HP 970XL/971XL ink cartridges estimated street price.

Models and Features

It should be noted that the Officejet X comes in a number of models, but every model carries with it a set of baseline features:

  • Up to 70 pages per minute of output
  • A 500 sheet paper tray
  • Duplexing – yes every Officejet X printer comes with duplexing capability
  • Includes HP’s ePrint mobile printing technology

Here’s a table that compares the four available models.

 

X451dn

X476dn

X551dw

X576dw

List price

$449.99

$649.99

$599.99

$799.99

Multifunction

Ethernet

WiFi (b/g/n)

Duplex scanning

Summary

Maybe printing will become cool again with new innovations in the space prepared to bring down costs?  Personally, I believe that this is one inkjet that CIOs should actually give a run for its money, particularly if HP’s cost per page claims hold under real world scenarios.  With standard duplex and standard Ethernet and duplex scanning included on specific models, the Officejet X could be a perfect workgroup printer for those that need fast output and color printing.