Editor’s Note: Based on our recent content survey, there seems to be interest in reading reviews of technology products designed for small businesses and entrepreneurs. So I’ve spent some time designing a review format. This is the first in what I hope will be many more product reviews to come. We’ll review software, hardware, telecommunications and other technology categories.
Recently I got a new HP All-in-One printer , scanner, copier and fax. The model is the HP OfficeJet Pro L7780. I really like this HP all-in-one and I’d like to share my experiences.
Until now in our office we had been using an HP 7410 series. That model, which is also an all-in-one printer, scanner and fax, still works and will find a new home with a relative who has spoken up for it.
But between my husband (an attorney who tends to print in black and white, and is a heavy fax user) and me (an entrepreneur who does a lot of in-house marketing with color printing), we wanted something that printed faster with smart faxing capabilities. I’m happy to report that the new L7780 is faster and should be cheaper to maintain, too. It prints 10 color pages per minute (highest quality) and even more if you adjust for medium or lower quality — about double the speed of our previous printer. The print quality is excellent — crisp and clean looking and very close to laser print quality to my eye.
The OfficeJet  Pro L7780 already is an important component of our small business office.
It can print from a wireless or wired computer network. It prints color and black-and-white copies.
It also comes with a suite of proprietary HP software so you can manipulate scanned documents and photographs, such as removing red eye effects. You can also download photographs directly from a digital camera to the printer — very convenient. And you can print crisp photographs on photographic paper.
On top of everything else, I love the stylish black design with round/edges and silver accents. The design looks contemporary and makes you feel good.
The HP L7780 was delivered from the local Staples store directly to our door. Here’s the big box:
As it turns out, it took about an hour and a half for me to set up and get it operational. For you it will probably take less time, because I stopped along the way to snap some photographs. Plus, I tend to be methodical and thorough — speed is not necessarily one of my defining attributes. 🙂
The set-up instructions were easy to follow. After unpacking the components, I simply followed the pictorial/text instructions.
By mistake I initially left off the rear component that enables double-side printing, thinking it was an optional piece. But this printer is so smart, that you almost cannot make a mistake. When I turned the machine on, the display panel told me that the piece was missing. So I simply snapped the missing piece into place and everything was fine. Here is the OfficeJet Pro — almost finished assembling:
It includes software which you install on your computer. Here I was waiting for the software to finish installing and snapped a shot (sorry for the flash glare):
Initially I still had software installed from the old HP printer, which was named to the exact same file folder. That seemed to cause a conflict. I immediately realized what I had done, and uninstalled the old HP software. Conflict solved!
After you turn on the OfficeJet Pro L7780 for the first time, you have to allow the printer heads to align, which takes a good 10 minutes or more. The LCD display prompts you to add some plain paper to the tray. It automatically takes the printer through the alignment process and notifies you when it is finished. This process is so simple, you just need to follow instructions.
At the end of the alignment process, it sends you a nice message telling it is done and reminding you to recycle the paper or discard it. See what I mean about it being a smart machine? Environmentally friendly, too ….
But the “intelligence” doesn’t stop at set up. The printer’s LCD display guides you through a variety of tasks. It gives you a lot of information and instructions on the small screen:
Our computer network is a wired network through our power outlets, so we connected the L7780 to the network via a USB cable. Although there was a phone cord included for the fax, we did not receive a USB or printer cable with the unit. Luckily we always have extra cables around, and quickly added our own cable, so it was not an issue for us.
The HP L7780 includes wireless networking capabilities. If you are on a wireless network (as more and more offices are today) you won’t need a cable anyway.
It came network ready.
This printer, scanner, fax has so many features, I can’t begin to mention them all here. Here are some of the features that we will find most valuable:
- Ink cartridges: One of the neatest features of this printer is that it has a different ink cartridge for each color: black, red, yellow and blue. That way, if you use certain colors more than others, you only need to replace the color that’s low. This should keep the cost of operating the printer low. This shot shows the 4 ink cartridges which are conveniently located at the front:
- Paper: The HP L7780 accepts a wide range of paper, from glossy brochure paper, to standard 20 lb. copier paper, to photographic paper, to business card stock, envelopes and labels. It has an optional second paper tray, if you use multiple types of paper regularly. It also prints different paper sizes, including 8.5 x 14 for long spreadsheets. I tried glossy brochure paper, matte brochure paper, regular paper, cotton letterhead, business cards, labels and photographs. Everything worked beautifully. Just be sure to choose paper designed for inkjet printers — I’ve found that to be a key for getting great printed results.
- Photographs: This printer will print photographs directly, without downloading to your computer, by plugging in the cable from your digital camera (my camera’s a Canon Powershot A310). You can also insert various-size graphics cards directly into the front of the printer, too. You can insert a USB memory stick and print directly, too. For instance, I inserted the USB flash drive that I picked up at a recent conference. I was able to print and even manipulate an image on the flash drive (manipulating size and so on) right on the display panel on the printer, without using my PC for that. The ability to work directly on the printer without going through your computer first is a real timesaver.
- Scanning: The scanner works quickly. Once the document is scanned, you can crop or resize it, rotate it, and otherwise manipulate the image using the HP software. It saves as a TIF or PDF format. Oh, and it has a neat feature where you can scan directly into Microsoft Word and even into Wordperfect (favored by the attorney in the office).
- Faxing: You can use this model with a dedicated fax phone line or with a phone line you use for both fax and voice – it will automatically detect the call and send it to fax if you need to. It has 99 speed-dial numbers and auto-redial, of course, to save time. You can also print out a record to show that your fax was successfully sent — this is a nice feature that we’ve also had with our older HP, and whenever I fax, I use this feature and staple the confirmation page to my fax as a later reference that the fax was successfully sent. You think you’re going to remember stuff like that, but trust me, a year later looking through a file, I would have no idea whether I’d faxed something if I had to rely on memory alone.
- Automatic software updates: There is an automatic software updating feature. The software periodically will check for updates and alert you if you need to download updates.
- Size: While I wouldn’t call it huge, it’s not exactly the smallest printer, either. If you use the optional second paper tray it will be rather high, adding around 3 inches to the height. We tried it out at first with the optional second tray, but decided not to use the second tray going forward so the printer would fit better in our space. If your space is limited, just make sure you measure in advance.
I consider the output quality excellent. I printed several documents and they turned out crisper than the old model we had been using. For marketing uses, the print quality is more detailed and sharper than any previous printer we have had. And the photographs and images I printed were impressive for home and office use.
This machine retails for $499 at Staples, although from time to you will see specials or find it with rebates, making it significantly less expensive. I can remember our first inkjet printer many years ago, with far fewer features. It cost more than this one, and had about one-fourth the capabilities. Considering all the advanced features, I’d say the HP OfficeJet Pro L7780 is a bargain.
Would I recommend it? Definitely. I think it can work equally well for a single person office, as well as a multi-person networked office. We’ve used only HP printers in our office for as long as I can remember. They’ve been reliable and given us what we’ve needed. What’s more, I really liked the easy set up. Best of all, this machine is so intelligent it simply doesn’t let you make a mistake.