|Submited By: Thomas K. Seibold on 03/14/2010|
Please be aware, before buying this printer, that it uses traditional four-color (cyan, magenta, yellow, black (CMYK)) technology. While four-color printing is the standard for offset color printing (i.e.: the process used by commercial printing plants), this printer is not capable of producing the lifelike continuous tones of a six-or-more color printer designed for printing photographs. That doesn t mean it s bad for its intended use--the speedy printing of typical business documents on plain paper, or getting output that simulates the four-color offset printing process--but it does mean that shoppers looking for photographic-quality output should look for a different printer better suited to that objective.
On behalf of a family member who works as a commercial artist, I wanted a large-format printer to replace a pair of ancient Epsons that constantly clogged. I bought a new large-format Epson (Workforce 1100--see my review) thinking that 15 years of development since my old printers were made would mean Epson had solved the clogging problem. I was mistaken--it clogged almost immediately and took multiple ink-consuming cleaning cycles to clear before it clogged again--so I returned it.
I was somewhat wary of this OfficeJet 7000, since it has gotten some very articulate and feature-specific negative reviews on Amazon. However, I took a chance because A. there are very few large-format inkjet printers available, and B. those that HP sells specifically for graphics users (DesignJets) hover around the $1000 mark--They may be very good printers, but I didn t want to spend that much.
Making sure that the local store I bought my OfficeJet 7000 from had a reasonable return policy, I dragged the large box home and began to unpack it. The first thing that surprised me was seeing that it has built-in ethernet--a rare feature among printers in this price range. While I don t need to network the printer at the moment, and I don t know how well it works, it s nice to know we have that option down the road, without buying additional hardware. I connected it via USB (you ll need your own cable), and got to work.
Installation of the printhead and supplied starter inks was fast and easy, and the software installed quickly on my Mac (OS X). As I recall, the printer then started its own ink priming/calibration routine that took about 15 minutes--a one-time thing, unless you want to manually run it again later (I have not had to).
With its print driver set to maximum quality, output quality on the 7000 (from Adobe Illustrator on a Mac) is very good--Again, for its intended use of printing business documents and graphic designs with solid blocks of color, not photos intended for framed art. In general, output colors are very bright and close to what I see on the screen--and this is on plain paper--although darker colors (like deep browns) appear just a bit washed out, and there is no setting I can find in the print driver to directly fine-tune this density.
Speaking of software, the 7000 comes with a decent CD that not only inserts the usual controls for various basic printer settings into the OS-level print dialog (OS X, in my case), but includes gadgets that let you run utilities on the printer such as head cleaning and additional calibration cycles (haven t needed it) and track what you ve printed and how often you ve interacted with the printer for such events as ink cartridge changes. Just keep in mind, if you are a user looking for endless print output tweakability, this software doesn t have much--It was clearly designed for the simplicity that business users want. The good news, as I mentioned above, is that I ve found its output to be quite color-accurate without a lot of tweaking, even if the dark mixed colors suffer a bit (black is fine). However, if you really want press-proof quality output, check out one of the HP printers designed for the graphic arts.
Like all inkjets, the OfficeJet 7000 is built on the model of selling you the printer relatively cheaply, then making money for the manufacturer on your future ink purchases. I can accept this reality, and the less-than-perfect color calibration (of dark colors) if I know the printer will work reliably, and so far this 7000 has been a champ. After years of dealing with the endless clogs (and unreplaceable printheads) of Epson printers, I am luxuriating in the sheer joy and novelty of a printer that just uncomplainingly puts ink down on paper without clogging every ten minutes. It s been six weeks and not a single clog. And while I would characterize the 7000 s actual printing speed as "pretty fast" compared to my retired Epsons, the biggest improvement in overall output speed has come from simply not having to take time out to unclog the old Epsons finicky heads.
As for reviews that mention paper jams, I can only guess that such reviewers got lemons, because my 7000 has been jam-free from the beginning, even with light cardstock that has to bend around a paper path that starts with the front-load tray. I would have preferred a printer with the option of a straight-through paper path (like the Epson Workforce 1100) for heavier stock, but that s a minor quibble when you consider how much more reliable it has been.