- ✓Fast and easy to maintain
- ✓High-volume consumables
- ✓Cool running with low emissions
- ✓Embedded XP controller with 10in. display
- ✓Plentiful paper handling options
- ✓Innovative copy charging schemes
- ✕Flat colours when printing on plain paper
Conventional wisdom tells us that although inkjets are fine for home use, when it comes to fast, high-volume, enterprise printing only a laser will do. However, HP's CM8060 multifunction printer/copier turns that concept on its head, employing the company's Edgeline inkjet technology to print and copy in full colour at over 60 pages per minute.
Edgeline is nothing short of mind-boggling and light years away from the inkjet technology found in a desktop printer. To start with, the paper is attached to a large rotating drum capable of holding up to three A4 sheets at a time. A vacuum keeps the pages in place and, instead of moving the print heads back and forth, the drum is rotated across two inkjet arrays that span the full page in one go.
The ink is different too, with a special bonding agent fired onto the page first followed by pigment-based CYMK (Cyan, Yellow, Magenta and Black) inks. The bonding agent helps to spread the ink droplets and also reacts with them to speed up drying, enabling documents to be printed at high speed without ending up a soggy mess.
Moreover the printer works out if it needs more than one pass to get the desired results (up to six can be required for complex colour) and intelligently interleaves the extra passes between printing other simpler pages in the document. The end result is fast inkjet printing, but with pages that come out touch-dry even when duplexed and — unlike a laser — cool to the touch.
Maintenance is simple, with no special knowledge or expertise required. The bonding agent and printing inks, which are the only consumables required, are delivered in easy-to-change individual cartridges that simply slide into place behind a door at the front. These are good for a huge 30-40,000 pages each at an average 5 per cent coverage — enough to last a month or more in most companies although requiring several changes if you push the printer all the way to its duty cycle of up to 250,000 pages a month.
The print heads are designed to last the life of the printer and are self cleaning, measuring the size of each of the billion or so droplets fired every time a page is printed to identify potential blockages. Should a jet appear blocked it is automatically switched off and replaced by another. The printer will also try and clear the blockage by spitting ink through the jet while the print head is over one of several built-in slots in the drum.
Consumables are included in a copier-like per-copy payment scheme for which a two-tier pricing model applies: general office quality documents are charged at around 30 per cent less per page than those printed at full Professional quality. Also, those with less than 2 per cent colour (so called 'colour accents') are simply charged at black-and-white rates.
Extensive paper-handling options are another feature of the CM8060, starting with three built-in drawers capable of holding up to 500 A4/A3 sheets each. These can be supplemented by an optional 4,000-sheet high-capacity A4 feeder, plus there's the usual fold down multi-purpose tray for heavy materials. On the output side, the standard catch tray can also be supplemented by either a 4-bin job separator or a finisher with two built-in staplers.
And it doesn't stop there. A colour scanner and document feeder are built into the top of printer enabling it to be used as a copier or network scanner with facilities to scan to email, fax or network folder. Scanned documents can be saved in a variety of formats including PDF, and integrated OCR software can be employed to convert documents to readable text on the fly. An analogue fax modem can also be added.
Despite all this functionality the CM8060 is delightfully easy to use thanks to an enormous, 10in. touch-screen control panel driven by software running on an embedded XP PC. Another neat feature is the ability to show an instructional full-motion video if a paper jam occurs. Users are also encouraged to clear jams themselves with so-called 'digital breadcrumb' LED paths to point the way — and because it runs at just 30 degrees, there are no hot components to burn unwary fingers.
PCL and PostScript emulations are both available and, by default, documents are printed at 600dpi with HP ImageRET technology to improve quality, although native 1200dpi output can be selected if required. Either way, print quality is excellent and the speed at which documents are produced equally impressive. Time to first page is around 11-15 seconds and when printing text you can expect as many as 70 A4 pages per minute. Colour printing is slower, of course, but you can still expect an average speed of around 50-60ppm for typical office documents.
Photographs can take a while to print, and graphics professionals would be better off looking at more specialist products. But as a general-purpose colour MFP, the HP CM8060 is a great solution with a lot going for it compared to conventional laser and copier alternatives.