We were meant to be paperless by now. Seriously, between smartphones and tablets, there's no reason to carry paper is there? The reality is, paper still makes the world go round. And that means a decent printer for the office is a must. The HP OfficeJet Pro 8720 looks like a big office multi-function printer but comes at a small office price.
Once I'd removed what felt like a thousand bits of blue tape that kept all the bits and pieces of this printer secure for shipping, I popped it on a small IKEA Lack coffee table for testing. The initial set up process is managed via the 10.9 cm touchscreen which let me set some basic information like the time and date, as well as hook the printer up to my local network. I chose the WiFi option - the days of me connecting stuff via Ethernet or USB are behind me although the 8720 does support those options - but was surprised that this modern device only supports 802.11 b/g/n on the 2.4GHz band.
This is one of those things that surprises me - many printers seem to skimp on the 5GHz radio.
I installed the cartridges and popped some paper in the feeder and let the set up do its thing. There's no need to dive into the manual to work out how do those things as there are helpful on-screen animations that show what doors and flaps you need to open to feed the 8720's belly.
All told, from cutting the tape on the box to having my first page print, set up took about 10 minutes.
But... the next day, after the initial setup, the printer's display popped up a message saying there was a firmware update available. This is a good thing in my view. many end-point devices are a pain to update as they require logging in via a web browser. HP has been working on their printer security for some time, mainly with enterprise devices. It's good to see some of those features, such as easier system updates, making their way to their smaller office products.
On my Windows 10 systems, the printer was automatically detected on the network and the appropriate drivers were installed. In addition, HP's AiO application was also installed. The app makes it easy to check consumable levels, manage the print queue and conduct other printer admin tasks. There are mobile versions of the AiO Printer Remote app for iOS and Android as well.
With a printer, the proof of the pudding is in the... printing. I added the 8720 to a couple of Windows machines and took advantage of the AirPrint support from my iPhone. The first round of business documents were all printed on plain paper, sourced from a local store. The four cartridges, a larger black tank and cyan, magenta and yellow were supplied with the printer.
The first document I printed as a dense, four-page slab of text. I set he 8720 to print six copies of the document with two pages per sheet and double sided. The days of small text being blurry from an inkjet printer are well behind us. Test text, despite its small size was clear and I couldn't detect any bleeding between adjacent letters or other anomalies.
My second test document was a business document with coloured sections, arranged in a table with different fonts. I sent this one from my iPhone. I took the default setting of one page per sheet with duplex printing enabled. The seven-page document was ready for me less than a minute after hitting the "Print" button.
My third document was a single page consisting of text, a colour image and a black and white image. From hitting the print command on a computer to final output, across the network, I had the document in just a few seconds. The text looked great. The colour photo was a little grainy but the black and white image was excellent.
The 8720 also supports photo printing. I loaded some photo paper into the main tray - there's just one paper feed which is a bit of a pain. The touchscreen made it easy to change the paper size and type from plain paper to photo. However, for some reason the 8720 didn't want to play nice with my photo paper, refusing to pick it up. All I got from the screen was a less than helpful message saying "paper problem".
So, unfortunately, I can't tell you about print quality on photo paper.
The 8720 supports a number of different scanning modes. You can create an email profile so documents you scan can be sent to an email address, you can scan to USB or a network folder.
The scanner only supports single-sided documents - which is handy for some things but less so for capturing double-sided documents. I scanned a number of different documents and all were delivered at good quality. Photos were clear, as were documents with a variety of different typefaces and font sizes.
As a multi-function, the 8720 also makes a handy photocopier although I'd be cautious of using it in that capacity a lot as the cost per page is reasonably high.
The HP OfficeJet Pro 8720 is not going to break the bank.
- Printer: $299.99
- Black replacement cartridge: $59
- Cyan, Magenta and Yellow replacement cartridges: $39 each
The colour cartridges are rated at 700 pages and the black at 1000 pages.
Would I buy the HP OfficeJet Pro 8720?
On paper, the HP OfficeJet Pro 8720 ticks most of the boxes I'd look for in a small office printer. The single paper tray is a concern though -not just for photo paper but many offices like to keep letterhead, invoices or other office stationary handy without the need to have to mess around with paper trays. And my issues with photo paper, which might be remedied with different paper, worry me.
The scanning and copying functions are useful but the lack of duplex scanning, which I haven't seen in a multi-function at this price point, would put me off as well.
But, for $300 it's a very tempting device. Print quality is good and it's very fast. But I'd probably save my money for something with a few more features.