- A flexible inkjet, delivering fast monochrome or good-quality colour output.
- Bulky, with a relatively low-capacity paper output tray.
HP's latest assault on the small business printer market is the Color Inkjet cp1160, an A4 inkjet that aims to satisfy both monochrome and colour printing requirements in a single unit. Rated at 17 pages per minute (ppm) for monochrome pages in its fastest mode, it can certainly hold its own with the lower end of the laser printer market for speed.
The first thing that strikes you about the cp1160 is its size. Colour A4 inkjet printers are typically small units, but this certainly isn't. The body of the printer measures 49 by 25 by 18cm, but the paper tray and duplexing unit add another 22cm to the depth, so it needs at least 50 by 50cm of desk space. The top of the printer is flat and can support up to 9kg, so you can stack things on top of it -- which is a good thing as the 150-sheet capacity of the paper tray isn't astounding. Printed pages land on top of the paper tray, and if you're printing multi-page documents you'd be advised to pull out the paper catcher in the top of the paper tray or you'll find yourself picking up pages from the floor.
The cp1160 comes with USB and parallel connectivity as standard, although a plug-in module provides the latter. Modules are also available for network connections, so you can share this printer across the office without needing to attach it directly to a print server or someone's PC. No data cables are supplied with the printer, so you'll need to order the relevant cable separately. There's also an infrared port on the front of the printer, allowing suitably equipped notebooks and handhelds to use it.
A new printing system is used in the cp1160 that separates the print-head itself from the ink cartridge. This means that the printer should be relatively cheap to run, since you don't have to buy a new print-head every time the ink runs out. As far as ink costs are concerned, the cp1160 holds its own against the competition, with black and white pages costing 2.7 pence and colour pages costing 8.8p. Note that these figures do not include the costs of the paper, which can be significant if you use high-quality photo paper.
The cp1160 is supplied with a duplexing unit as standard, allowing two-sided printing for all types of print job. The driver for the cp1160 also includes the capability to print multiple pages per sheet, to a maximum of 16-up. Curiously, there isn't an option in the printer driver for face-down output for single sided printing -- something that's physically possible using the duplexing unit. This means that for single-sided printing, all the pages of a multi-page document end up in reverse order. We noticed a pause of several seconds between sides when using the duplexing unit, which slowed down the page throughput even though the raw print speed is unaffected.
The cp1160 contains an optical paper sensing system, which is supposed to determine paper properties automatically. As a result, there's no paper type setting in the printer driver. The quality of colour output isn't the best we've seen, but it's certainly good enough for most business purposes. On normal bond paper, using the 'normal' quality setting, solid colour is good, but photo images come out looking a little fuzzy. Using better quality paper and using the high-quality settings improves matters, with photos looking sharper and colours richer. However, it still doesn't have the kind of print quality you'd get from a dedicated photo inkjet.
At £226.38 (ex. VAT; £266 inc. VAT), the cp1160 is a reasonably priced printer, which should cope with moderate printing needs in a small office. It's large by comparison with many other A4 printers (and even some low-end lasers), so make sure you have space for it. Otherwise, as long as you remember to use the most appropriate settings for the job in hand, you should have little reason to complain about print quality.