HP Colour LaserJet Enterprise M553x review: New toner tech delivers the goods

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  • Editors' rating
    9.0 Outstanding
  • $1,518.73

Pros

  • Excellent print quality at up to 40ppm
  • Up to 33% higher page yield per cartridge
  • Lower operating temperatures and reduced power requirements
  • Internal cartridge seals for clean maintenance

Cons

  • High up-front cost of consumable replenishment
  • No Bluetooth connectivity

A lot has been written about the wisdom, or otherwise, of HP's planned corporate split, putting enterprise hardware and services together under one brand while creating a separate company for PCs and printers. The deed itself has yet to be done, but changes are under way and one consequence appears to be a renewed focus on core markets, especially printing.

The Colour LaserJet Enterprise M553x features a new consumable technology called JetIntelligence. Image: HP

The JetIntelligence quotient

Despite growing competition, HP continues to dominate the printer market with around 40 percent share overall. In recent years, however, the company could be accused of resting on its laurels and following the pack rather than leading -- especially when it comes to business lasers. This is a trend HP clearly wants to reverse with a new series of Color LaserJets featuring a consumable technology called JetIntelligence, designed to make this still-expensive colour printing component a little more affordable.

HP has gone back to the drawing board with the consumables used by the new Colour LaserJets and has invented ColorSphere 3 toner, which comprises particles with a durable outer shell around a low-melting-point inner core. Toner can be fused at much lower temperatures, allowing the printers to run a lot cooler, which makes them up to 53 percent more energy efficient compared to previous models, according to HP.

Page yields are also improved, by a claimed 33 percent, with the JetIntelligence technology tracking cartridge wear and usage to both further deliver on that claim and provide more accurate information on toner levels.

Colour LaserJets featuring JetIntelligence toner technology are available for both small business and enterprise use, each with its own consumables and requiring the usual four cartridges (Cyan, Yellow, Magenta and Black). SME buyers can choose between a standalone printer (the Colour LaserJet Pro M252) and an MFP (Colour LaserJet Pro MFP M277), but for our evaluation we looked at the LaserJet Enterprise M553x, a much more capable colour laser aimed at workgroups printing up to 6,000 pages per month.

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Costly to buy, high-yield consumables with JetIntelligence help keep the cost per page down to reasonable levels. Image: HP

Standard and high-yield cartridges are both available, our review unit shipping with the former, which are rated at 6,000 pages for black and 5,000 for colour. High-yield replacements, however, are much better value, the black cartridge delivering a claimed 12,500 pages and the colours coming in at 9,500 each.

Recommended price for a full set is an eye-watering £804 (ex. VAT), which seems expensive when the printer itself can be had for around £650 (ex. VAT). Given the higher yield, however, the cost per page is much less than with previous models. Moreover, we found genuine consumables on sale for just over £660 (ex. VAT) per set, which comes to around 7-8p per page, putting the M553x on a par with a high-end printer/copier on a managed print contract.

There are other benefits too, including an internal toner seal that eliminates the need to pull out that messy plastic sealing strip before fitting a new cartridge. A small enhancement, perhaps, but it makes maintenance a lot cleaner and allows the printer to be delivered with toner in situ, ready for immediate action.

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Internal toner seals make for much cleaner maintenance with toner delivered ready-installed on new printers. Image: Alan Stevens/ZDNet

JetIntelligence consumables also enable the new Colour LaserJets to deliver outstanding-quality documents, print them very rapidly, and continue to do so page after page after page.

Capable of delivering quality colour output at 1,200 by 1,200 dots per inch (dpi), the laser engine in the M553x is rated at 40ppm for US Letter size prints, dropping to around 36-38 ppm for A4 in our tests. It also comes with a duplexer and can print double sided with no loss of speed. We found that the LaserJet M553x was consistently able to deliver the first page in 9-10 seconds during our tests, all of which were run over a Gigabit Ethernet network connection.

More than the sum of the consumables

Of course there's more to a printer than its engine and consumables, no matter how fast or innovative and here, too, the LaserJet M553x, has a lot to commend it.

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As well as local admin, the control panel can be used with HP Private Print to release documents queued in the cloud. Note the NFC touch point in front of the panel. Image: Alan Stevens/ZDNet

To start with, HP has gone for an elegant and compact, if somewhat boxy, design with rounded edges and few of the flimsy and easily damaged plastic artefacts found on some printers. It's big (it has to be) but not excessively so, and the catch tray for printed documents is in clear reach on the top of the printer with a flip-up 4.3-inch colour control panel alongside for local management.

Very little management is needed, although UK users do also have access to a useful service called HP Private Print where documents can be queued in the cloud then released by the user from the printer panel. This helps save waste when users forget to pick up their prints as well as insuring confidentiality, as users have to be present at the printer for documents to be produced. Authentication can be via PIN or ID card.

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Two paper trays are included as standard and more can be added as required. Image: Alan Stevens/ZDNet

You get two paper drawers, one on top of the other, with a 550-sheet drawer directly beneath the main print engine and a 2,550 high-capacity drawer at the bottom. A 100-sheet multi-purpose feeder for labels, card and so on completes the standard paper-handling complement, with fourth and fifth 550-sheet drawers optionally available for those with heavy-duty requirements.

Connectivity options start with a USB 2.0 port for direct local attachment, which on this kind of laser is unlikely to be used. Instead the M553x will, typically, be connected to the LAN via its built-in Gigabit Ethernet port. Wi-Fi Direct printing is another standard feature, along with NFC printing from suitably equipped mobiles that can simply be tapped against the logo moulded into the casing next to the colour control screen. Bluetooth isn't available, but there is support for Apple AirPrint, Google's Cloud Print 2.0 and HP's own ePrint technology.

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Gigabit Ethernet is the preferred connectivity option although Wi-Fi Direct, NFC and other mobile printing options are available. Image: Alan Stevens/ZDNet

Maximum duty cycle is a massive 80,000 pages per month, although a more modest 2,000-6,000 is the recommended monthly volume. And to deliver all that there's a 1.2GHz processor with 1GB of RAM, upgradeable to 2GB if needed, along with the usual PCL and PostScript language support plus native PDF printing.

A true workhorse

The LaserJet M553x is relatively noisy when printing, although not excessively so, but is power-frugal thanks to its new consumable technology. And it's virtually silent most of the time, quickly snapping out of energy-saving sleep mode when called upon to print.

This is a very capable and usable printer which, thanks to its speed and high-quality output, tends to encourage users to commit documents to paper. Its only real drawback is the high price of replacing the consumables when they run out. That said, in terms of cost per page, it's a step in the right direction and shows HP's venerable print division addressing a long-standing customer concern.

Specifications

General
Printer Type Workgroup printer - laser - color
Camera
Installed Size 4 GB
Printer
Print Speed Up to 38 ppm - B/W - A4 (8.25 in x 11.7 in)
Up to 40 ppm - B/W - Letter A Size (8.5 in x 11 in)
Up to 38 ipm - B/W duplex - A4 (8.25 in x 11.7 in)
Up to 40 ipm - B/W duplex - Letter A Size (8.5 in x 11 in)
Up to 38 ppm - color - A4 (8.25 in x 11.7 in)
Up to 40 ppm - color - Letter A Size (8.5 in x 11 in)
Up to 38 ipm - color duplex - A4 (8.25 in x 11.7 in)
Up to 40 ipm - color duplex - Letter A Size (8.5 in x 11 in)
Up to 59 ppm - B/W - A5 (5.83 in x 8.25 in)
Up to 59 ppm - color - A5 (5.83 in x 8.25 in)
Built-in Devices 4.3 inch LCD touch screen
Preview Screen Size 4.3"
Connectivity Technology wired
Interface USB 2.0, Gigabit LAN, NFC, USB 2.0 host
AirPrint Enabled Yes
Image Enhancement Technology HP ImageREt 3600
Automatic Duplexing Yes
PostScript Support standard
First Print Out Time B/W 6 sec
Language Simulation PCL 5C, PCL 6, PDF 1.7, PostScript 3
Fonts Included 105 x TrueType
92 x PostScript 3
Printer Features Instant-on Technology, hardware integration pocket
Media Handling 100-sheet multipurpose tray, 2x 550-sheet input trays
Type workgroup printer
Min H-Document Size 3 in
Min V-Document Size 5 in
Max H-Document Size 8.5 m
Max V-Document Size 14 in
Media Type bond paper, card stock, preprinted paper, punched paper, recycled paper, transparencies, envelopes, extra heavy-weight paper, heavy-weight glossy paper, heavy-weight paper, labels, light-weight paper, opaque film, plain paper
Media Sizes 3 in x 5 in, 3.95 in x 5.9 in, A6 (4.13 in x 5.83 in), Executive (7.25 in x 10.5 in), JIS B5 (7.17 in x 10.12 in), JIS B6 (5.04 x 7.17 in), Legal (8.5 in x 14 in), Letter A Size (8.5 in x 11 in), Oficio (8.5 in x 13.5 in), RA4 (8.46 in x 12 in), Statement (5.5 in x 8.5 in), 4 in x 5.83 in, 4 in x 6 in, 5 in x 7 in, 5 in x 8 in, 8.5 in x 11.7 in, A4 (8.25 in x 11.7 in), A5 (5.83 in x 8.25 in)
Min Media Weight 60
Max Media Weight 220
Envelope Sizes International B5 (6.93 in x 9.83 in), International C5 (6.38 in x 9 in), International C6 (4.5 in x 6.38 in), International DL (4.33 in x 8.66 in), Monarch (3.87 in x 7.5 in), US No 10 (4.1 in x 9.5 in), US No 9 (4 in x 9 in)
Total Media Capacity 1200 sheets
Connectivity
Wireless Ready Yes
Mobile Printing Capability Apple AirPrint, HP ePrint, Mopria Print Service, wireless direct printing
Power Device
Type power supply
Nominal Voltage AC 120 V
Frequency Required 50 Hz
Power Consumption Operational 624 Watt
Power Consumption Stand by 33.6 Watt
Power Consumption Sleep 3.95 Watt
Form Factor internal
Power
Frequency Required 50 Hz
Power Consumption Sleep 3.95 Watt
Power Consumption Operational 624 Watt
Processor
Clock Speed 1.2 GHz
Miscellaneous
Consumables Included 1 x toner cartridge (black) - up to 6000 pages ISO/IEC 19798
1 x toner cartridge (cyan) - up to 5000 pages ISO/IEC 19798
1 x toner cartridge (magenta) - up to 5000 pages ISO/IEC 19798
1 x toner cartridge (yellow) - up to 5000 pages ISO/IEC 19798
Color Category black, gray
Chassis
Preview Screen Size (metric) 10.9 cm
Networking
Networking Print server
Remote Management Protocol HTTP, HTTPS, Telnet, IPP, IPPS, NDS, SLP, SNMP 1, SNMP 2c, SNMP 3, TFTP
Network Controller Name HP Jetdirect
Security Protocols & Features 802.1x, Apple Bonjour, EAP-TLS, IPsec, Kerberos, LDAP, PEAP
RAM
Installed Size 1 GB
Technology / Form Factor DDR3 SDRAM - DIMM 90-pin
Max Supported Size 2 GB
Slots Qty 1
Empty Slots 1
Form Factor DIMM 90-pin
Technology DDR3 SDRAM
Environmental Standards
Blue Angel Yes
ENERGY STAR Yes
Printing
Max Resolution B/W 1200 x 1200 dpi
Max Resolution Color 1200 x 1200 dpi
Max Printing Speed B/W (ppm) 40 ppm
Max Printing Speed Color (ppm) 40 ppm
Automatic Duplexing Yes
Media Handling
Min Media Size (Custom) 3 in x 5 in
Max Media Size (Custom) 8.5 in x 14 in
Media Weight 60 g/m² - 220 g/m²
Max Media Capacity 2300 sheets
Output Trays Capacity 250 sheets
Media Type Envelopes, transparencies, labels, plain paper, heavy-weight paper, heavy-weight glossy paper, bond paper, recycled paper, opaque film, card stock, extra heavy-weight paper, light-weight paper, punched paper, preprinted paper
Envelope Sizes US No 10 (4.1 in x 9.5 in), International DL (4.33 in x 8.66 in), International C6 (4.5 in x 6.38 in), International C5 (6.38 in x 9 in), International B5 (6.93 in x 9.83 in), Monarch (3.87 in x 7.5 in), US No 9 (4 in x 9 in)
Total Media Capacity 1200 sheets
Media Sizes Letter A Size (8.5 in x 11 in), Legal (8.5 in x 14 in), Executive (7.25 in x 10.5 in), A4 (8.25 in x 11.7 in), A5 (5.83 in x 8.25 in), A6 (4.13 in x 5.83 in), 3.95 in x 5.9 in, 8.5 in x 11.7 in, JIS B5 (7.17 in x 10.12 in), 4 in x 6 in, Statement (5.5 in x 8.5 in), 3 in x 5 in, 5 in x 7 in, Oficio (8.5 in x 13.5 in), 8.5 in x 13 in, 5 in x 8 in, JIS B6 (5.04 x 7.17 in), 4 in x 5.83 in, RA4 (8.46 in x 12 in)
System Requirements
OS Required Android, Apple MacOS X 10.10, Linux Mint 13, Linux Mint 14, Linux Mint 15, Linux Mint 16, Linux Mint 17, Microsoft Windows 7 (32/64 bits), Microsoft Windows Vista (32/64 bits), Microsoft Windows XP (32/64 bits) SP3, Red Hat Fedora 17, Red Hat Fedora 18, Red Hat Fedora 19, Red Hat Fedora 20, UNIX, Ubuntu 10.04, Ubuntu 11.10, Ubuntu 12.04, Ubuntu 12.10, Ubuntu 13.04, Ubuntu 13.10, Ubuntu 14.04, Ubuntu 14.10, Windows 10 (32/64 bits), Windows 8 (32/64 bits), Windows 8.1 (32/64 bits), openSUSE 12.2, openSUSE 12.3, openSUSE 13.1, Apple iOS, BOSS GNU/Linux 3.0, BOSS GNU/Linux 5.0, Debian Linux 6.0.x, Debian Linux 7.x
Duty Cycle
Monthly Duty Cycle (max) 80000 pages
Recommended Monthly Volume 2000 - 6000 pages
Environmental Parameters
Sound Emission (Idle) 32 dBA
Sound Emission (Operating) 51 dBA
Min Operating Temperature 59 °F
Max Operating Temperature 86 °F
Humidity Range Operating 10 - 80%
Document & Media Handling
Media Type Class envelopes, film / transparencies, other, plain paper
Media Size Class A4/Legal
Header
Brand HP
Product Line HP Color LaserJet Enterprise
Model M553x
Localization English, French, Spanish
Country Kits Canada, Latin America (excluding Argentina, Brazil, Chile), Mexico, United States
Packaged Quantity 1
Compatibility Android, Apple iOS, Mac, PC, Unix
Office Machine
Type printer
Functions printer
Monthly Duty Cycle Range (Printer Class) 50,000 - 99,999 pages
Monthly Duty Cycle (max) 80000 pages
Recommended Monthly Volume 2000 - 6000 pages
Printing Technology laser
Printing Output Type color
Interface Required
Connector Type 4 pin USB Type A, RJ-45
Type Gigabit LAN, USB 2.0, USB 2.0 host
Total Qty 1, 2
Dimensions & Weight
Width 18 in
Depth 18.9 in
Height 22.9 in
Weight 73.63 lbs
Dimensions & Weight (Shipping)
Width (Shipping) 29.5 in
Depth (Shipping) 23.6 in
Height (Shipping) 23.5 in
Weight (Shipping) 85.1 lbs
Printing System
First Print Out Time B/W 6 sec
Consumables Included
Color black, cyan, magenta, yellow
Included Qty 1
Coverage ISO/IEC 19798
Software
Type Drivers & Utilities
Printer Output
Max Speed 38 ppm, 40 ppm, 59 ppm
Media Size A4 (8.25 in x 11.7 in), A5 (5.83 in x 8.25 in), Letter A Size (8.5 in x 11 in)
Output Quality B/W, B/W duplex, color, color duplex
Printer Media
Media Load Type automatic
Media Feeder Qty 1
Media Feeder Max Format 8.5 in x 11.7 in, Legal (8.5 in x 14 in)
Min Media Weight 60
Max Media Weight 220
Media Feeder Capacity 100 sheets, 550 sheets
PC Connectivity
Interface Gigabit LAN, NFC, USB 2.0, USB 2.0 host
AirPrint Enabled Yes
Printer Fonts
Font Included Type PostScript 3, TrueType
Fonts Included Qty 105, 92
Service & Support
Type 1 year warranty
Service & Support Details
Type limited warranty
Location on-site
Full Contract Period 1 year

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Where To Buy

HP Color LaserJet Enterprise M553x

Part Number: B5L26A#BGJ
Price
$1,518.73