HP PageWide Pro 577dw Multifunction Printer Review

Thursday Apr 28th 2016 by Ted Needleman
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Need a multifunction printer that can handle high-volume workloads? For speed and quality output, consider investing in HP's PageWide Pro 577dw.

There’s a new printer line in town, and HP calls it PageWide. The name refers to the printer family's staggered printheads that stretch across the width of a letter or legal-sized page. The printhead array is fixed—meaning that the paper moves past the array.

With a greater number of nozzles than most inkjet printers (more than 40,000), PageWide printers deliver excellent print quality (1,200 x 1,200 dpi on regular paper and 2,400 x 1,200 on photo paper) at very fast speeds. HP claims print speeds up to 70 pages per minute (ppm)—on par with printers and MFPs that cost many times more than the HP PageWide Pro 577dw ($899; MSRP) we review here.

HP PageWide Pro 577dw MFP Review: Quick and Easy Setup

Unboxing the large PageWide Pro 577dw requires two people; it weighs nearly 49 pounds and measures a bulky 20.9 x 16 x 18.4 inches. It’s even wider—31.6 inches—with the manual feed tray opened and the output tray extended for legal-sized paper. You might want to consider a dedicated stand for this big boy.

Instead of a user manual the PageWide Pro 577dw MFP provides a fold-out poster, and a straightforward setup process. Remove all the tape strips and plug in the power cord. Once you power up the multifunction printer, you insert the four starter ink cartridges included with the device and wait for them to prime, which takes about 10 minutes. Once you answer a few questions on language, date, and time on the large, 4.3-inch color touchscreen, and you’re ready to install the software.

The software install sets up the print and scan drivers, as well as the fax capabilities (you can fax directly from the PageWide MFP or use the MFP’s fax modem to fax from your PC). A second CD contains Read IRIS OCR software, which lets you convert a scan into editable text.

HP PageWide Pro 577dw MFP

The HP PageWide Pro 577dw multifunction printer.

The scanner includes a TWAIN driver during the install so it works with TWAIN-based applications. We had no difficulty scanning images into Picasa using the application’s Import function. And while the MFP does not include a USB cable, it does include a phone cable for the fax capability.

You finish the installation by setting up the network or PC connection. We connected the 577dw to our network using Wi-Fi WPS setup, which simply involves pushing a button on our router.

The PageWide Pro 577dw offers extensive connectivity options: USB (no cable included), wired Ethernet, and Wi-Fi, Wi-Fi Direct. You can print from a mobile device that supports NFC (Near Field Connectivity)—simply touch the device to the small icon on right-bottom edge of the printer's control panel. With the PageWide Pro 577dw connected to your network, you can also print from a remote device using HP ePrint, HP Mobile Apps, Google Cloud Print v2, or Apple AirPrint.

A USB 2 port on the multifunction printer's left side—somewhat hidden under the edge of the control panel—lets you print from, or scan to, a USB drive. Other scan capabilities include Scan to Email with LDAP email address lookup, Scan to Network Folder, Scan to USB, and Scan to Microsoft Sharepoint (if you have this application set up).

HP PageWide Pro 577dw MFP Review: Paper Handling & Ink

The standard Pro 577dw MFP's single paper tray holds 500 sheets (a full ream) of letter or legal size paper, as well as a manual tray for specialty papers like photo paper or cover stock. This manual feed tray holds up to an additional 50 sheets. If you need a bit more capacity than the standard 500 sheets, you can buy a second 500-sheet tray for $199. The MFP simply sits on top of this second tray.

The Pro 577dw supports duplexing for both printing and scanning, and the scanner scans both sides of the page in a single pass. The automatic document feeder (ADF) holds up to 50 sheets and accommodates paper up to 11-inches long; if you need to scan a legal-size document, you can place it on the glass platen.

You'll find a wide range of ink-cartridge capacities for the PageWide Pro 577dw MFP. The standard HP972 cartridges ($80 each) provide roughly 3,500 pages in black and 3,000 color pages. The high-capacity HP972X cartridges cost $136 each and yield 10,000 black pages and 7,000 color pages. Finally, the extra high yield 976Y cartridges produce about 13,000 pages in color and 17,000 pages in black. They cost $239 and $221, respectively.

If your printing needs fall on an even higher-volume level, you might consider a different model from the same 577 MFP family. The PageWide Pro MFP 577z includes the same 50-sheet manual feed, but it adds a floor stand and two more input paper trays—for a total capacity of 1,500 sheets of paper. It sells for $1,499.

HP PageWide Pro 577dw MFP Review: Print Speed & Image Quality

The PageWide Pro 577dw excels at both output quality and speed. You can choose from four output quality settings—but you have to find them first (it should be easier). You have to go to Printer Properties and look under the second tab to find the quality settings: General Office, Professional, Presentation, and Maximum DPI.

You'll have to play with the settings to determine which one you want to use for everyday use, but the difference in print quality isn’t all that obvious unless you do a side-by-side comparison of the same document printed at the different settings. For most office printing, the General Office setting will more than suffice.

We conducted performance testing using the General Office setting (which gives the fastest speed) and again using the Maximum DPI setting (which slows the speed down considerably). We use multiple runs of the Word and Excel documents used in the standard ISO test protocol, though we don’t perform the entire ISO test Suite or full testing protocol which is what the printer vendors use to make their speed claims.

HP states the PageWide Pro 577dw can print at up to 70 ppm in monochrome. We don’t test in monochrome, and the Word document has a small color logo, which slows things down a bit, while the Excel document has lots of color, which slows things down even further.

In our Word test, the 577dw turned in an average speed of 66 ppm with the driver set to General Office, while the Excel document slowed things down to 30 ppm. At the Maximum DPI driver setting, speeds averaged 22 ppm for the Word document and 21 ppm for the Excel document.

HP PageWide Pro 577dw MFP review

The HP PageWide Pro 577dw MFP control panel.

Translation: excellent performance. You'll also see this speed reflected when you use the PageWide Pro 577dw in copy mode. The copy function in many inkjet MFPs is suitable only for the occasional copy or two—when you don’t mind waiting. But you can actually use the 577dw as a copier, even for long copy runs.

Our image-quality tests provided a bit of a mixed bag. On ordinary copy paper, colors were washed out. That improved markedly when we switched to HP Presentation Paper and changed the print driver setting to Presentation. This combination slowed the MFP appreciably, but image quality improved to where we would use the output for business brochures or flyers.

And while HP makes no claims about the PageWide Pro 577dw’s capability as a photo printer, printing the test images at the highest resolution on Red River Premium Glossy Photo Paper resulted in spot-on color and accurate saturation. It’s not a photo printer, but with the right paper it can produce acceptable photo quality.

HP PageWide Pro 577dw MFP Review: A High-volume Printer

If your small business has fairly modest print needs, the PageWide Pro 577dw is not designed for you. The printer's General mode boasts fast speed and a recommended print volume of 1,000 to 6,000 pages a month. The extra high yield ink cartridges and the extra paper drawers make very long print-or-copy runs possible—and they won’t keep you waiting anxiously for them to finish.

These capabilities make the 577dw a very practical choice for workgroups or departments. HP adds value with its JetAdvantage capabilities, one of which lets you print to the cloud and then download the print job at the MFP with a release code. This maintains document privacy and security.

Don’t be scared off by the price of the printer. And while the cartridges might seem a bit expensive, the cost-per-page is not. HP estimates monochrome printing cost slightly more than a penny a page and color pages cost less than seven cents.

If your business handles a lot of printing, scanning, copying, and faxing, the somewhat steep upfront acquisition cost of the PageWide Pro 577dw is a very good investment.

em>Ted Needleman published his first review in 1978. Since then, he has written several thousand hardware and software reviews, columns, articles on using technology, and two books. He has no intention of stopping any time soon.

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