HP puts laser printing on notice with proprietary ink in new office printers

HP's pigment ink for office printers can't be bought for cheap from eBay or Amazon

HP is bringing a proprietary form of ink to office printers, and you won't be able to buy cheaper cartridges for it from sites like eBay.

New PageWide and OfficeJet Pro printers will use so-called pigment ink to provide faster, cheaper and higher-quality printing than laser cartridges.

HP has so far reserved pigment ink for industrial printing but is now bringing it to office printers. The ink is based on a proprietary formula, and cartridges can be bought only from HP for a price of US$40 or more.

Business printers will be able to print up to 20,000 pages with a one black cartridge of the pigment ink, and 17,000 pages with color cartridges.

Printers with the new ink will be fast. A top-end PageWide color printer will be able to print up to 75 pages a minute in basic mode, and 50 pages per minute in high-quality mode.

Pigment ink is sprayed simultaneously across the width of a page in one pass and isn't as time-consuming as inkjet, in which ink is applied left-to-right across each line.

The cost of printing a page equals about US$0.01 cents using black cartridges, and $0.06 for color cartridges. That's roughly half the cost of printing color pages with laser printers, said Larry Tracy, director of product planning for PageWide printers at HP.

The pigment ink quality is superior and the ink more durable than inkjet, Tracy said.

Large documents or books can be printed in a matter minutes. The speed will be good for businesses like publishers, who won't have to stock a large inventory of books, Tracy said.

It's not clear if the ink technology will reach consumer printers, which largely rely on inkjet technology.

The new printers have wireless printing capacities and a feeder for automatic and quick scanning of documents. PageWide printers are faster and targeted at larger offices. OfficeJet Pro printers are slower, but a cheaper way to take advantage of the new ink.

The HP PageWide Enterprise Color MFP 586 and 556 color printers will ship in May starting at $1,999 and $749 respectively. The printers have touch screens for tweaking documents, with the 586 packing in several additional features. Both printers are designed for offices printing up to 15,000 pages a month.

The HP PageWide Pro 552dw and 577dw print up to 70 pages per minute, and targeted at offices printing 6,000 pages per month. The printers will ship in April starting at $699.

The HP PageWide Pro 400 series, which start at $400 and will ship in April, print up to 55 pages per minute. The HP PageWide 300 series printers will print up to 45 pages per minute and will ship in June. Prices weren't immediately available.

The OfficeJet Pro 8700 series printers will start at $199 and be available starting in April, while the OfficeJet Pro 8210 will ship in September for $129.99.

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