Oversize monochrome printers from HP, Lexmark, and Xerox prove practical yet pricey
Speedy models demonstrate versatilityFollow @infoworld
Drab, discreet, and ordinary?
Or affordable, reliable, and fast? What you see in monochrome laser printers depends on what you look for -- though from any perspective, printing monochrome documents is an essential part of the office workday.
But whether printing large monochrome docs is fundamental depends on what your office does; for anyone who draws or drafts, lays out booklets, or simply needs an overview of huge spreadsheets or accounting reports, an oversize printer fills the bill.
For this review, I looked at three 50-pages-per-minute-rated monochrome lasers designed to produce tabloid-size (11 inches by 17 inches) or slightly larger documents: Hewlett-Packard’s LaserJet 9050dn, Lexmark’s W840dn, and the Xerox Phaser 5500DN.
I can’t call these printers a bargain. In well-equipped configurations, with three paper sources, a duplexer, a reasonable dose of memory, and a network interface, their prices range from $3,299 to $3,799. For comparison, similarly equipped but slower large-format color printers cost only from about $1,000 to $1,500 more. (See my recent head-to-head of two such printers). And letter-size monochrome printers cost much less.
But with 50-ppm engines under the hood, all three of these machines are fast. They produce fine print quality, and -- if you add optional paper-handling equipment -- they can process enormous jobs, or fold and staple booklets. And while purchase prices are high, operating costs are very low.
So which of the three do I prefer? The Lexmark takes first place largely on the basis of its somewhat faster performance; a marginally lower purchase price and a couple of extra features also contribute.
HP LaserJet 9050dn
HP’s entry in this field is quite the behemoth: The LaserJet 9050dn weighs well over 150 pounds, covers 55 inches by 25 inches of a desk with its flaps open, and stands 24 inches high. Fortunately, four deep handgrips out near the corners make unboxing and moving it an easy team effort.
A 30,000-page integrated toner cartridge/imaging drum unit means there’s only one replaceable part to monitor and keep in stock (the Lexmark and Xerox printers have two replaceable parts, and they follow different replacement schedules).
I like most elements of the LaserJet 9050dn’s interior mechanical design. The front door flops down to horizontal so it’s easy to get inside the printer; if you need more room, you can release the door’s straps to drop it all the way down. There’s also plenty of space to remove and insert the toner/drum unit, and following a consistent color code for all the rollers, flaps, and other components inside the printer, you turn a big green lever to lock it in place or release it, and grab a big blue handle to move it.
The fuser slides out on rails and lifts straight up on a comfortable handle in case you need to clear a jam behind it. The duplexer also slides out and can be completely removed -- plus check out that fan inside the duplexer! HP says the fan prevents double-sided prints from overheating on their second pass through the fuser.