HP's worst kept secret, the OfficeJet Pro X series, is due for release in Spring 2013 and promises to take a big chunk out of the laser printer market. At a time when consumer inkjet sales are declining, it seems that business inkjets are about to undergo something of a renaissance. One of the laser printer's greatest weapons has been nullified as the Pro X can boast an incredible print speed of 70 pages per minute.
The blistering speed of the OfficeJet Pro X is made possible by HP's PageWide Technology, which employs a stationary printhead spanning the width of the page. Since the printhead no longer moves across the page, one of the main factors limiting print speed has been removed. Instead, the paper passes beneath the printhead's 42,000 nozzles which deliver ink droplets to the page at a uniform weight, speed and trajectory.
Top speed is achievable at a resolution of 600dpi which is more than adequate for most tasks, while increasing resolution to 1200dpi reduces print speed to a still-impressive 42 pages per minute. As the printhead covers the entire width of the page, increasing coverage doesn’t affect print speed, so a full-page image can be printed just as quickly as a few lines of text.
Whilst the Pro X's speed is grabbing all the headlines, it does have other advantages over laser printers. Inkjet printers don't require high temperatures to bond the ink to the paper so the OfficeJet Pro X uses far less energy than a laser printer. The absence of a bulky fuser unit also means that that Pro X is considerably smaller and lighter than a comparable laser printer. A stationary printhead means that the OfficeJet Pro X also has fewer moving parts, making it more reliable than a conventional inkjet and quieter than both laser and inkjet devices.
Detailed specifications are yet to be released but there will be four models initially, the single function OfficeJet Pro X451 and X551 and the multifunction X476 and X576. Standard features will include a 500-sheet paper tray, automatic duplex printing, HP ePrint, USB printing and wireless direct printing. A 4.3in colour touch screen will also be available on selected models.
It seems that the HP OfficeJet Pro X may represent a shift in printer technology as it overcomes many of the inkjet printer's traditional shortcomings and offers a truly viable alternative to the office laser printer. HP PageWide Technology has made it possible to develop a machine which is smaller, faster, cheaper, more energy efficient and produces higher quality output than a laser printer.
One of the inkjet's main drawbacks still remains, however, as the duty cycle for the OfficeJet Pro X is just 4,200 pages – more than enough for small to medium sized businesses and workgroups but insufficient for heavy duty users. However, HP has hinted that it may introduce more advanced features and increase the duty cycle at a later date, which will see the OfficeJet Pro X competing with the LaserJet Enterprise range.
We've heard a great deal recently about the decline of the inkjet printer market but could it be that the laser printer’s days are numbered?
by Anthony Morgan