HP Officejet 7000 review
thermal inkjet, 8ppm print speed, USB Hi-Speed, 10/100 Ethernet, 402x574x181mm
A3 printers have lots of uses in work environments, from promotional brochures to A4 documents with room for annotations in the margins.
It's less likely that they'll be called upon to produce traditional glossy photo prints, though, except perhaps for surreptitious private use.
This is the rationale behind HP's Officejet 7000, one of the least expensive A3 inkjets we've seen. Based on a similar four-ink print engine to the A4 Officejet 6000, photo printing isn't its forte. However, costing much less than A3 laser printers - particularly colour ones - it's an attractive prospect for small offices with limited IT budgets. Print costs also compare well at just 4.7p per mixed-colour A4 page.
You can connect it directly to your PC via USB, or use Ethernet to share it on a network. The sole input tray holds just 150 sheets and leaves them exposed to dust, and the plastic case doesn't look like it's designed to cope with careless use in a busy office. Still, the 7,000 pages-per-month duty cycle is reassuring, although this is a one-time maximum rather than suggested regular use.
Mono text prints on cheap 80gsm photocopier paper were dark, crisp and essentially faultless except under the closest scrutiny. Business graphics looked excellent, too, with bright, smooth block colours and no visible banding. Photo prints made a respectable first impression but, with blacks produced from a composite of cyan, magenta and yellow, dark areas were a little pasty and had a blue tint.
We also tried the printer with HP's expensive 180gsm Superior Inkjet Paper, which is designed to match photo paper but has a finish that's better suited to business graphics such as brochures. This produced vivid colours and sharp text. White text on a coloured background was particularly impressive, with none of the bleeding exhibited on plain paper. Laser printers can produce a similar effect on plain paper, but inkjets have more subtle shading, which gives smoother results in graduated fills and full-colour graphics.
Performance was excellent, churning out mono text pages at 9.6ppm for A4 and 5.7ppm for A3. Draft print speeds were even better, at 17.6ppm for A4 and 9.6ppm for A3. Quality in Fast Draft mode was barely distinguishable from Normal mode, and was certainly up to the demands of everyday use. For text prints at least, the Officejet 7000 can keep up with laser printers. A4 colour graphics output was slower, though, at 3.8ppm; around a third of the speed we'd expect from a colour laser.
As a low-cost alternative to an A3 colour laser, the Officejet 7000 is almost impossible to fault. It's fast for text prints, running costs are incredibly low and, when used with specialist paper for critical jobs, quality is at least as good as from a colour laser, and often better.