HP OFFICEJET PRO X551DW

Built to last, HP’s latest office-centric inkjet printer delivers stunning color for less

Consumers may have embraced the concept of feature-rich, multifunction inkjet printers whose replacement ink is more expensive than buying a whole new unit, but this isn’t an ideal scenario for businesses that require sturdier hardware capable of pumping out a high volume of pages each month. HP comes to the rescue with the OfficeJet Pro X551dw, delivering professional-quality output far more robust than low-end inkjets, while offering twice the speed and half the cost of comparable color laser printers. It’s also built to handle up to 75,000 pages per month, a number few small companies are ever likely to hit.

The X551dw is something of abehemoth, weighing in at 37.8 pounds and requiring a wide 20.3×15.7×16.3-inch I footprint on your desk or table. lt definitely feels like you’re getting what you paid for, but the ample frame could pose a dilemma for home offices where space is already at a premium.

At the top of the unit is a 4.3-inch color touchscreen, which can be swiveled upright for easier viewing. Such displays come standard on many HP printers these days, which is handy for password entry while connecting to 802.11b/g/n wireless networks or accessing apps, which include a number of printable kid-themed templates such as Disney and Nickelodeon, as well as more business-minded tools like The New York Times digest edition.

In addition to a 500-sheet slide-out paper tray at the bottom, a panel at left opens to feed up to 50 sheets of odd-sized paper, including envelopes. HP sells an optional third tray capable of holding another 500 sheets, and up to 300 total pages can be stored in the output tray. While the X551dw handles photo and specialty papers quite nicely, it unfortunately does not produce borderless prints.

Installation and setup were quick and easy, althoughthe X551dw oddly required us to manually enter the date and time, even after connecting via Wi-Fi. Adding the printer to our MacBook Pro with Retina Display automatically installed the latest driver, without ever having to insert the provided CD. HP’s ePrint is compatible with AirPrint out of the box, so we were also able to print from an iPhone 5 and third-gen iPad straight away.

The X551dw uses four long, square ink cartridges (black, cyan, magenta, and yellow) that average between $75 and $95 to replace, but HP touts an output of 9,200 pages per XL cartridge — roughly double that of comparable color laser printers with similarly priced toner cartridges, making this a good overall value for small businesses.

Our first printouts were made using included samples of ColorLok paper, which promises faster drying, bolder blacks, and more vivid colors. But even with plain, Staples-branded multipurpose paper, the X551dw did a pretty fantastic job with laser-sharp, readable text and much richer color than our HP LaserJet 2605dn ever produced.

It also prints lightning-fast, with the first page hitting the output tray in as little as 9.5 seconds, with an average speed of 42 pages per minute. For businesses that can afford to trade a little quality for speed and ink savings, the new General Office mode can whip out a speedy 70 pages per minute, depending on the content being printed. HP claims it’s the «world’s fastest desktop printer» and we’d be hard-pressed to dispute that.

The bottom line. Assuming you have the space and budget for it, the HP OfficeJet Pro X551dw is an affordable, high-quality inkjet printer built for quality, speed, and endurance, whether connecting from a PC or mobile device.

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