Multifunction Printer Review: HP Officejet 7500A

by James Alan Miller

It's no speed demon, but this wide-format, multifunction printer that scans, copies and faxes offers small businesses good value and ease of use at a fair price.

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The HP Officejet 7500A, like the majority of other multifunction printers on the market, is a real space- and money-saver. Why shell out and make room for a printer, a fax machine, a copier and a scanner when you can buy one device that integrates all those functions into a convenient and (often) compact package?

 A Multifunction Printer Designed for Larger Print Media

HP's 7500A, which lists for $300, is a little more special than your usual multifunction printer. Yes, it's handsome with a sleek design and glossy black finish. But, as the latest member of HP's Wide Format e-All-in-One Printer series, the 7500A also elegantly combines all the features mentioned above with the capability to handle media up to 13- by 19-inches in size.

That's a handy capability for small businesses that deal with larger-than-legal-sized output to have in a printer. It also comes at a fairly reasonable price. Laser multifunction printers with support for wide-format media tend to go for well into the thousands of dollars range.

When you add Ethernet and Wi-Fi network connectivity (as well as USB 2.0), Web and ePrint functionally, and good overall performance, it looks like HP has yet another solid multifunction printer on its hands.

Does Your Small Business Need the HP Officejet 7500A?

The 7500A isn't for everyone, though. You should only consider it as an option over HP's standard Officejet models if wide-format printing is a going concern at your shop. Moreover, the 31-pound 7500A measures a rather large 23.9- by 16.9- by 11.6-inches, a little too big (especially lengthwise) for most desktops.

The comparable Officejet Pro 8500A All-in-One Printer models come in at a somewhat more svelte 19.45 by 18.86 x 13.04 inches, because they don't need to take 19-inch printouts into consideration.

The HP 7500A multifunction printer ships with drivers for most flavors of Windows and Mac (OS X 10.5.8 to 10.6) environments. Drivers for Microsoft Windows Server 2008 and drivers for Linux are available for download from HP's Web site, as well.

A Multifunction Business Printer by the Numbers

The unit prints up to a 600x 600 dpi resolution in monochrome and 4,800 x 1,200 dpi for color output. Its scanner specs out at up to 4,800 x 1,200 dpi as well, and the fax machine hits 300 x 300 dpi. Additional features include a USB 2.0 port located in the rear for connecting directly to a PC and 128MB of memory -- a good amount for most uses that, for example, can store up to 100 pages for the fax component.

A single 150-sheet paper tray slides out from the bottom of the printer. That's not a lot room for paper, and depending on how much you print, you may find yourself making frequent trips to refill the tray.

HP Officejet 7500A multifunction printer; inkjet printer
The HP Officejet 7500A multifunction printer manages the usual print, scan, copy and fax, but in a 13-by 19-inch wide-format.
(Click for larger image)

HP rates the 7500A for a duty cycle of up to 7,000 pages per month, but it recommends keeping the monthly print volume down between 200 to 450 pages. A departmental workhorse the 7500A is not.

Document Feeder, Yes. Duplexing, No

The machine's top-side document feeder for faxing and copying is capable of handling as many as 35 up-to-legal-sized pages at a time. We liked how you could load documents face up; better to see a phone number (so you don't have to remember them) when sending faxes. Lift up the loader, and you see the glass for the flatbed scanner portion of the 7500A.

Unlike some other multifunction printers, the 7500A does not integrate a duplexer -- nor, unfortunately, does it offer it as an option -- for automatic two-sided printing and scanning. A duplexer can be real time-and media-saver. Consequently, if you want to print to both sides of document, you will have to flip it over yourself after the first pass through.

The 7500A does not require a PC or network connectivity to function as a copier or fax machine: simply select fax or scan from the HP's controls, which includes a 2.4-inch color LCD (very useful for previewing pictures on a memory card) and an alphanumeric keypad. You can readily send faxes directly from a connected PC as well.

The user interface and control are among the easiest to use we've seen. And, although the touch screen normally rests flush against the printer, you can tilt it up for optimal viewing. Because sections of the control panel light up only when needed, the HP isn't always wasting energy.

When you select Fax, for example, that's when the keypad illuminates. Otherwise, it remains dark. The 50-watt printer operates at 26 watts max, drops down to 6 watts in standby and uses only 4.1 watts in power save mode.

A pair of memory card slots sits on the multifunction printer's lower-left-front side. These let you print or scan documents directly to and from SD, XD, MMC or Memory Sticks. Regrettably, there is no similar option available for USB flash drives, a type of mobile media storage business folks are more likely to carry with them to transport documents on a daily basis.

The 7500A's TWAIN and WIA (Windows Image Acquisition)-driven scanner lets you scan images directly into applications on your PC that support those driver standards. You can also scan documents as attachments directly to email messages on your PC.

Multifunction Printer: The Out-of-Box Experience

Thanks to the clear setup guide and documentation, as well as animations on the unit's LCD panel and handy color-coding on HP's part, setting up the 7500A took us no time at all. First, we connected the power cord (a rather large brick type); turned the unit on; set the language and region on the touch screen; and snapped the print head and cyan, magenta, yellow and black ink cartridges into place.

From there, we loaded paper and, while the multifunction printer finished running initial diagnostics (such as paper alignment), installed the bundled drivers and software before connecting the Officejet to our Windows 7 test system via USB.

As with nearly every other printer nowadays, you must provide your own USB and Ethernet cables, which irks us to no end. HP does include a telephone cord for faxing at least. Once we plugged in our USB cable, HP's software recognized the printer instantly and completed the setup process, which included setting up the 7500A to send and receive faxes from our PC. The whole process took about 20 minutes.

Wizards also walk you through Wi-Fi and Fax setup right on the LCD panel. To copy, scan, fax or access HP's Web Apps, you select the function you want from the unit's display. HP's Internet-enabled apps reside on the unit to let you bypass your PC to print certain types of documents and content directly from the Web. There is some business material available, but most of the files (at this point, anyway) fall more on the consumer-side of the equation.

Business Printer Performance Testing

With ratings of 10 pages per minute (ppm) monochrome and 7 ppm color in normal quality mode and first-page out times of 16 seconds and 19 seconds respectively, HP clearly is not setting the 7500A up as a speed demon. Its draft printout ratings of up to 33 ppm monochrome and 32 ppm color, however, are considerably better.

In terms of actual performance, the 7500A multifunction printer did well for an inkjet at its level. We tested the business printer with a variety of tasks, and here are the speed results:

  • A single-page text document with a little color: 9 seconds
  • A single image- and color-rich page: 26 seconds
  • A five-page, mixed-media PDF with lots of text, pictures and graphics: 1 minute and 8 seconds
  • A six-slide PowerPoint presentation with a blue background: 2 minutes and 26 seconds
  • A six-slide PowerPoint presentation with a white background: 1 minute and 25 seconds
  • A 58-page, mixed-media document: 8 minutes and 2 seconds

Although those numbers are not close to HP's estimates (most printers never achieve that in real-world testing), they are respectable nonetheless. We never felt we had to wait too long for output. The average first page-to-print times closed in nearer to HP's specs, at about 19 seconds for color black and 24 seconds for color printouts.

We had no complaints about print quality, which was surprisingly laser-like in its appearance for both monochrome and color output, even under normal and not the higher-quality settings. The color images were rich and accurate, particularly with pictures, and the text was very readable and crisply rendered.

The 7500A copied a single document with text and a couple of images in about 20 seconds. That same document took only 12 seconds to copy in monochrome. Both copies looked nearly identical to the original, the only exception being the lack of color in the latter version. The printer allows you to make a maximum of 100 copies at a time.

Like most inkjets, it's not the up-front price that hits your pocketbook the hardest; it's the cost of keeping the 7500A supplied with ink that really hurts. HP offers low- and high-yield ink cartridges for the 7500A. A 420-page black cartridge goes for $19.99, and the 1,200-page one sells for $31.99. The 300-page cyan, magenta and yellow cartridges cost $9.99 apiece, while the 700-page versions cost $14.99 each.

Bottom Line

All things considered, the Officejet 7500A is a good-quality inkjet-based multifunction printer. Sure, it's not the fastest in the world, but the quality of its output, ease-of-use, setup, and elegant design make it good choice for small businesses that need a reasonably priced way (at least upfront) to print, copy, scan and fax larger-sized media on occasion.

Small businesses that plan to work with tabloid or wider output on a regular basis, however, should check out a laser option that can handle a higher workload, although it'll cost a lot more upfront.

James Alan Miller is a contributing writer for Small Business Computing,, EnterpriseMobileToday.com and HardwareCentral.com.

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This article was originally published on Tuesday Jan 11th 2011
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