We've all been there before... A printer breaks down just as we spent good money on a multi-pack of ink cartridges. Since printers are not worth fixing (versus purchasing a new one), off you go to buy a new printer only realize that you need to buy all new ink cartridges. Why can't the printer manufacturers just make one black and one multi-color cartridge to fit all of their printers?
So I found myself at Sam's Club and spotted this HP All-In-One printer and loved the features. At $349, I thought I found my new printer - especially since printers of this caliber sold for about $600 a few years back. Of course, Sam's Club was sold out, so off to Costco I went. It was actually $339 and they had many in stock. Go figure.
PLEASE NOTE: HP makes an identical product called the L7650. I've seen some of the 7680 units that come with smaller text-only LCD displays and white faceplates while some have the larger animated full color LCD display and black faceplates - so it's a bit confusing. The only real difference between them is that the 7650 includes a USB cable while the 7680 includes an ethernet cable otherwise they are identical.
My trusty HP D145 was creating far too many headaches and it was time (after 7 years) to replace it. I looked at brands like Brother and Canon but felt HP was much better in the long run especially since I'm not find of Epson printers. It came down to three HP models. The 7580, the 7680 and the 7780.
The (aprox) $249.00 - 7580 is the low end of the three. It has a white faceplate, letter-sized scanning. The 7680 adds legal sized scanning, LCD screen, junk fax blocker, networking and two-sided printing. The 7780 adds wireless networking and a second paper tray. The 7680 and 7780 go up in (about) $100 increments from the 7580. I didn't need the second paper tray nor the wireless networking, so I opted for the 7600 series. Of course, the second paper tray and the wireless networking are optional accessories if needed down the road. If you think you might need these features, better to buy them now than as an option - it's far more cost-effective.
I work in the film industry so legal-sized scanning was important since we use call sheets and production reports in that size. Of course, when you get a fax that is legal size and print it out on letter size paper, it automatically sizes the text to fit the page. And it's usually tiny.
After plugging in the power, I installed the four ink cartridges and the two dual print heads. The ink install is very simple and is located behind a door in the front of the machine. The print heads require a small amount of "elbow grease" to make sure they seat properly.
Other than the initial software install, the set up of the machine is a bit arduous. You have to make sure all the ink cartridges and print heads are installed properly and all doors and ports are closed. The initial set up sequence takes about twelve minutes. The machine goes through a few tests and prints out a few test pages. I think this is also an attempt to make me go through ink faster. But that's just a hunch.
Networking a printer is when you have two (or more) computers that can print to the same printer. I simply installed the software on both home computers and plugged the printer into the router. The same router used to get the internet to my computers. That's all I needed to do to network this printer to both PCs. Simple enough - the software install took about ten minutes for my PC and about seven minutes for my wife's PC. Maybe it's because hers is newer and a bit faster.
The quality of the prints is referred to as "near laser quality" and I can see why. They're sharp! While the photo printing is pretty great for ink jet, I would suggest using a photo printer if you're printing many pictures each month.
I can print via a wireless card from a laptop or a PC via Bluetooth technology. This printer will also enable printing from a Bluetooth-enabled PDA without wires.
A word about the ink:
The printer comes with four #88 cartridges. Magenta, cyan and yellow come in the 9ml size while the black is 20.5. The newer style cartridge is slender - rather than the box-type from before. Costco also sells 88XL packs. The color cartridges are 17ml and the black ones are 58.5 which last quite a while. Since I also write screenplays, I go through quite a bit of black ink and 3-hole paper.
I searched the net and found out what the ink costs per page are:
20.5ml Black is rated for 820 pages - 2.5 cents/page
9ml Cyan is rated for 620 pages - 2.5 cents/page
9ml Yellow is rated for 620 pages - 2.5 cents/page
9ml Magenta is rated for 620 pages - 2.5 cents/page
58.5ml Black is rated for 2,450 pages - 1.5 cents/page
17ml Cyan is rated for 1,200 pages - 2 cents/page
17ml Yellow is rated for 1,200 pages - 2 cents/page
17ml Magenta is rated for 1,200 pages - 2 cents/page
The smaller 88 cartridges yield these numbers at 5% coverage per page:
2.5 cents black ink only, 7.5 cents color, and 10 cents for both black and color ink on one page.
The 88XL yield these numbers at 5% coverage per page:
1.5 cents per black ink only, 6 cents color, and 7.5 cents for both black and color ink on one page.
So it is more cost effective to buy the larger ink cartridges, but be sure to check the dates on the packages. Apparently ink has an "install by" date. Take note, the ink is warranted until six months after the install by date. So a word to the Costco buyers, do not buy ink in bulk unless you go through ink that fast. Costco sells two 88XL black ink cartridges for $56.99 and the 88XL three colors in one pack for $58.17. That's very reasonable compared to single cartridge prices at office supply stores. For instance, Staples sells the black 88XL for $34.99 and each of the color 88XL cartridges for $24.99 each. So you can spend $75 at Staples or $58 at Costco for color and you can spend $70 for two black 88s or $57 at Costco. The choice is yours. I'm sure you can find refills of knock-off brands for much cheaper - but there's a reason for that.
As a Scanner:
I love that there's ample room with the legal size scanner bed. While the quality of the scans is great (2400x4800 dpi - 19600 enhanced), if your work requires you to do a lot of scanning, you'd be better off buying a stand-alone high-end scanner. Scanning can be done via the legal sized scanning bed or the 50-sheet top feeder. You can scan a photo directly to the included HP software. I prefer to use Adobe Photoshop to alter photos as it has more options.
A Note About Digital Filing:
This printer allows me to scan documents to a specific folder and share it on my network. I can also scan to programs like Microsoft Word via the included OCR (optical character recognition) software. As a bonus, I can scan directly to a memory card for transport.
As a fax machine:
Some businesses are still stuck in the abyss of old world technology. Some still use fax technology instead of email. It's frustrating but sometimes a necessity. A nice feature is "Junk Fax Blocking" which is (in essence) caller ID blocking. So it stands to reason that you'll need caller ID on your phone service plan. I can even add numbers to a list of faxers I wish to block. If needed (probably not) I can store up to ninety-nine 'fax to' numbers. I also have the option to auto-print incoming faxes or just alert me so I can choose what faxes to print later. A note for DSL subscribers: Make sure to install a DSL filter on the line before you start faxing.
As a copier:
Basically, I have two options: I can make one copy at a time on the bed or use the 50-sheet feeder if I have something like a screenplay to copy.
The faceplate is well-designed with each function of the scanner/fax/copy sections grouped together.
There's also another section called "Photo." This enables me to view pictures from my memory cards, rotate and zoom before I print pictures directly from the printer - no PC needed! It's best to run minor fixes (like red-eye removal) with the included HP software, but for major alterations, I prefer to run the picture through Photoshop or any photo program. I can also print a proof sheet - which comes in handy when I need to compare prints or store proofs of particular projects.
One thing that's missing is the dedicated envelope feeder slot. I used to be able to feed a single envelope through a special slot in the feeder. On this machine, I merely load envelopes in the feed tray like I ordinarily do with paper. It's odd that there's no tab to keep the envelopes from sliding to the left, but I guess the rollers keep things aligned.
Paper jams: I did experience one jam in the early stages. It was user error due to the fact that I pushed the stack of paper to far back into the machine. The cool thing was that the machine told me exactly where the jam was with a picture on the display! How cool is that?
What Comes in the Box:
The 7680 (or 7650)
A Duplex head for two-sided printing
(2) dual print heads - (1) black/yellow and (1) cyan/magenta
(1) 20.5ml 88 Black Ink Cartridge
(1) each 9ml 88 cyan, magenta and yellow cartridge
(1) power supply and cord
(1) phone cord
(1) CD-ROM for Windows and (1) for Macintosh
(1) USB cable (7650) or (1) Ethernet cable (7680)
One-year limited hardware warranty backed by HP Customer Care, service and support.
one-year technical phone support and a toll-free number.
Minimum System Requirements:
PC: Windows Vista: 800 MHz 32-bit (x86) or 64-bit (x64), Adobe Acrobat Reader 5, 512 MB RAM, 1.2 GB HD, Microsoft Internet Explorer 7.0, CD-ROM, USB 2000, Windows XP Home, Professional, x64 Editions. Compatible Operating Systems: Windows Vista, 32-bit or 64-bit (Professional and Home Editions), 2000, XP x64.
Mac OS X: (v 10.3.9, 10.4x)
Power Supply Type: External, Input Voltage: 100 to 240 VAC (=/-10%), 50 to 60 Hz (+/- 3Hz)
Print, Copy, Fax speeds - 35ppm in black and 34ppm in color. This is at the fastest setting. For the best quality it drops down to 12 in black and 1o in color.
Fax Rate - 33.6kbps
Fax Resolution - 300 x 300 dpi.
Dimensions - 20.91" wide x 18.35" deep x 14.02" tall
Weight - 35 pounds without paper.
In Sleep mode: 10 watts
In Ready Mode: 15 watts
While printing: 29 watts
Fax & Copy modes: 33 watts
Today, I stumbled across a very unique set of features with this printer.
When you go to "Print" click on "Properties", then click the "Features" tab and finally click on "Printer Services."
This window opens up to a myriad of tests and reports linked to HP via the internet. Very cool. There are three main tabs in the "toolbox" window: Ink Levels, Information and Services.
Ink Levels: Gives me a color graph of my ink levels so I know (at a glance) exactly where I stand with my ink cartridges.
Information: This has four tabs to click: MyPrint Mileage, HP Instant Support, Print head Health and Hardware Information. It also includes my model name & number (And who doesn't like getting a model's name and number?), serial number and service ID number. These are handy when calling or messaging HP.
"MyPrint Mileage" which shows me how much of each color ink I have used, how many of which ink cartridge I have used, media sizes I have used (letter sized paper, envelopes, etc) and plain, photo or other types of paper I've used.
"HP Instant Support" links me to an HP consultant for problem solving.
"Print Head Health" shows me the status of my (2) print heads.
"Hardware Info" shows me all the various serial and model numbers again, but it also displays the firmware version.
Three more tabs: Diagnostic, Print Quality and Advanced Configuration.
"Diagnostic" provides me access to self diagnostic tests and a print quality test.
"Print Quality" allows me to align the print heads, clean the print heads and calibrate the line feeds.
"Advanced Configuration" has a lone tab "Paper Handling." This allows me to switch the tray feed between the first and (optional) second tray.
Conclusion: You'd be hard-pressed to find a better small business all-in-one product. Of course, if you have the space and the volume, better to buy individual products in case one goes bad, you don't lose all four elements and bring your business to a grinding halt.
This is a solid 4.75 star performer. Points off for infrequent paper jam issues. Seldom as they may be, it is annoying.
As a side note, does anyone else notice that HP switches the location of the memory card access panel each year? Last year, they were on the left this year they're on the right. (shrugs)
Visit Hewlett-Packard's website at www.hp.com
Update: I took advantage of Costco's July '07 sale of this product. I returned my printer and got a new one for $269. For that price, this is an even better printer!
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Amount Paid (US$): 269.00
Operating System: Windows and Macintosh