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Reviews

HP Color LaserJet Enterprise M553x

An innovative colour laser that's big on features and ideally suited to SMBs that need high-volume printing

Price
£648
  • Great cloud printing functionality; Excellent image quality
  • Inability to use cheaper alternative cartridges

HP's M553 LaserJet family delivers a heap of new features that will appeal to SMBs and busy workgroups alike. These aren't minor tweaks: HP has redesigned these printers from the ground up.

The M553x is at the top of the range. The price may look steep, but you get plenty for your money. Along with a fast 38ppm print speed, built-in duplexing and a double-tray 1,200-page capacity, it offers Wi-Fi Direct plus near-field communication (NFC) and it's the only one in the range to sport a large (10.9cm) adjustable colour touchscreen.

It also benefits from HP's new ColorSphere 3 toner. With its lower melting point, this allows the fuser unit to be made smaller, reducing the printer's dimensions. It also requires less power than conventional lasers, and HP's high-yield cartridges deliver low running costs of 1.2p per mono page and 7p for colour.

The cartridges show off HP's JetIntelligence technology, which provides more accurate measurement of toner capacities. The anti-fraud feature stops you from using cheaper refilled or third-party cartridges, but it does mean you can't be ripped off, as the printer won't accept counterfeits.

It took us ten minutes to install, and it was easy to register the printer with HP's Connected service and assign it an email address for remote printing. We also registered it with Google Cloud Print, simply by entering the Connected email address.

With AirPrint enabled by default, we could print directly from our iPad, and securely log on to the printer using Wi-Fi Direct. There's an NFC touch point on the edge of the operator panel, but the M553x doesn't provide standard wireless AP services.

If it's the best user-access and colour-printing controls you're after, look no further. Support for LDAP and Active Directory lets you decide which features users can access from the web interface, which also provides wizards to help set up authentication. Colour controls are extensive: you can limit this service to specific users and groups, or turn it off. Colour can even be removed for selected applications, although HP's user manual isn't particularly informative.

You get both PCL5/6 and universal PS3 drivers, which provide useful security measures. Jobs can be held at the printer until released, while "Proof and hold" lets you check the first copy before releasing the rest. Jobs can be stored on the 4GB hard disk, secured with a PIN and encrypted.

HP's claims of 38ppm printing proved bang on the money in our tests, with a 38-page Word document delivered in one minute single-sided. Even in duplex mode it took only 1min 1sec. Colour prints were handled just as well, with our 24-page DTP document averaging 38ppm at the highest 3,600dpi interpolated resolution.

The lower-power fuser means the printer warms up quickly: we never had to wait more than seven seconds for the first page from a warm state. The printer still put the first page out in less than nine seconds from sleep mode, and power consumption never went above 640W.

Print quality is excellent, with sharp text and detailed mono photos. Smooth transitions across the complex fades in our test chart resulted in detailed, vibrant colour photos and graphics, with only a hint of banding present in large areas of solid colour.

Businesses with big printing demands will find plenty to like about the HP Colour LaserJet Enterprise M553x. This classy, feature-rich printer is fast and cheap to run, and won't be beaten for its extensive print-management tools.

Verdict

This classy, feature-rich printer is fast and cheap to run, and won’t be beaten for its extensive print-management tools.

SPECIFICATIONS

600 x 600dpi A4 colour laser

38ppm colour/mono

1.2GHz CPU

1GB RAM (max 2GB)

10.9cm colour touchscreen

3 x USB 2

Gigabit Ethernet

Wi-Fi Direct

NFC

Duplex

2 x 550-sheet input trays

100-sheet MPT

Monthly duty cycle, 2,000-6,000 pages

458 x 479 x 581mm (WDH) 

1yr on-site warranty

RUNNING COSTS

High-yield: Mono (12,500 pages), £131

C, M, Y (9,500 pages), £182 each

Toner bottle (150,000 pages), £15

220V fuser (100,000 pages), £125

Overall cost per A4 page: mono, 1.2p; colour, 7p

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