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New ColorSphere3 toner formulation, Page Maximiser technology & JetIntelligence from Hewlett-Packard boost print speed, reduces size – plus more

Aware that business customers are concerned about a raft of printing issues, including space, economy and security, Hewlett-Packard claims its latest range of laser printers and MFPs, announced last week, are the ‘-est’ LaserJets ever produced thanks to its new ColorSphere3 toner formulation and Page Maximiser technology – grouped under the ‘JetIntelligence cartridge technology’ banner – and JetAdvantage Private Print technology.

Together, these technologies allow the devices to be the . . .

  • Fast-est
  • Small-est
  • Quiet-est
  • Smart-est
  • Secur-est
  • Handi-est

. . . LaserJets in Hewlett-Packard’s printer armoury.

In addition, while Hewlett-Packard definitely does not claim that its laser printers are the ‘cheap-est’ on the market, in this instance, the company does claim the ‘-er’ (no, not uncertainty) – ‘cheap-er’ than its previous generation of laser printer.  The claim is that black printing costs with these new ColorSphere3 printers will be about 10% lower per page than the previous generation and colour printing costs will be about 8% lower.
HP ColorSphere3 toner

ColorSphere3 toner
ColorSphere3 is the name given to the new toner formulation.  ‘Hard on the outside and soft on the inside’ is how Hewlett-Packard describes the improvements.  Each particle of toner is encased in a very hard shell that is not susceptible to damage in the way that other chemically grown (Polymerised) toners are.  Colorsphere3 toner also melts at a lower temperature than Colorsphere2 toner and has a couple of other key benefits in addition.

Firstly, while inside a toner cartridge, toner is constantly being churned around by the mechanics of the cartridge as part of the process of making sure that an even spread of toner is applied across the page.  This churning results in toner particles breaking up or becoming chipped. As the volume of toner in the cartridge reduces and the cartridge nears end of life, the toner remaining inside the cartridge largely comprises these broken bits – rather like bits of broken biscuits at the bottom of a biscuit barrel.  Of course, these toner particle bits are incapable of delivering the print quality that Hewlett-Packard is looking for in its supplies.

So, what the company needed to do previously was to overfill the cartridge so that printing could be stopped before the bits of broken toner were used, while still delivering the desired print quality and quoted number of pages.  NOTE that this may be another reason for some third party cartridges not delivering adequate performance as a cartridge approaches end of life – using every scrap of toner contained in the cartridge means using broken bits, resulting in reduced print quality.

With ColorSphere3 toner, this overfilling is not necessary, meaning that the cartridge can be physically smaller, with less toner, while still delivering the same number of pages at peak print quality – amounting to 33% more efficient use of space.  The practical effect is seen in the yield of the new toner cartridges:

  • 5K pages black and 9k pages colour for the Colour LaserJet Enterprise M552 and M553 compared to 11K pages black and 6K pages colour for the LaserJet Enterprise Colour 500 M551
  • 8K pages black and 2.3K pages colour for the Colour LaserJet Pro M252 and M277 MFP compared to 2.4K pages black and 1.8K pages colour fir the previous generations of Colour LaserJet pro 200 series.

Secondly, because the core of the toner particles is softer, with a lower melt-point, the particles melt more quickly, meaning that the page can be passed through the fuser more quickly, resulting in faster print speeds – First Page Out is listed as less than 7 seconds for the Colour LaserJet Enterprise M552 and M553, which is 44% faster than previous generations and claimed to be 60% faster than the leading competitors.   And, an added bonus of the low melt-point is that the printer requires less energy to heat the instant-on fuser, which means that warm-up is faster, AND the instant-on fuser is active for a shorter period of time – contributing to the cheaper (53% less energy).

Page Maximiser technology
Inside the toner cartridge the mechanics have also been given a complete overhaul, again saving space, thus allowing more toner to be contained in the cartridge for its size.  Essentially, the mechanics have been designed to be more durable, meaning less wear and tear and thereby longer life.

HP M277 MFP 40pc smaller

Putting these two technologies together, a smaller toner cartridge also means smaller printer – in this case 40% smaller.  The image below shows a new Colour LaserJet Pro M277 MFP sitting inside the cut-down shell of the previous generation, Colour LaserJet Pro M276 MFP.

Together with the speed benefits derived from the ColorSphere3 toner and Page Maximiser technology, also contributing to faster print speed is the redesign of the built-in duplex printing unit in the Colour LaserJet Enterprise M552 and M553.  This allows duplex printing to be achieved at the same speed as single-sided printing.

At 33ppm in both simplex and duplex, this makes the Colour LaserJet Enterprise M552dn just 3% faster in simplex but 14% faster in duplex than its forerunner, the LaserJet Enterprise 500 Colour M551dn (29ppm duplex and 32ppm simplex).

However, at 38ppm in both simplex and duplex, the Colour LaserJet Enterprise M553dn is a significant 19% faster in simplex and 31% faster in duplex than the LaserJet Enterprise 500 Colour M551xh (29ppm duplex and 32ppm simplex).

Without the duplex unit redesign, reliant just on ColorSphere3 and Page Maximiser technologies, the Colour LaserJet Pro M277dn is still claimed to be the fastest duplex printer in its class, at 11ppm (compared to 18ppm simplex printing).

JetAdvantage Private Print provides secure cloud pull printing.  This works by the printed document being held in a private cloud print queue that can only be released by the document owner entering his relevant pass key information into a JetAdvantage Private Print enabled printer.

This has the obvious advantage of ensuring that private, confidential or sensitive documents cannot be seen or collected from a printer by anyone not authorised to see them but also allows documents to be collected from ANY JetAdvantage Private Print enabled printer that the individual has authorisation to use (regardless of where in the world it may be located).

In enterprise environments, a proximity card reader can also be used to retrieve documents using the Enterprise M552 and M553 printers.

Also protecting the printers from misuse, JetIntelligence technology provides for a secure hardware/cartridge handshake that provides anti-fraud and anti-theft protection to the printer and its cartridge.

Anti-fraud protection is to identify and prevent counterfeit cartridges being used in the printer, while anti-theft protection allows a cartridge to be associated with a specific printer or printer group (for instance company department or small company), thus preventing them being removed and used outside of its designated environment.

Handi-est and Smart-est
One of the most annoying characteristics of early printers was that there was no gas gauge feature in the control panel.  This meant that the user had little or no idea of how much toner or ink remained in the cartridge, making it difficult to know when it was necessary to have a new cartridge ready in the store cupboard.

Then, manufacturers began making a big feature of having a gas gauge on the printer control panel to help users and this was followed by the ability to view the gas gauge on the computer screen in addition to the printer control panel.

Now, Hewlett-Packard has taken the technology one stage further by enabling a smart intelligence to the gas gauge that allows it to learn from and adapt to the printing behaviour of the user or user group.  This is particularly relevant in graphical or marketing type environments and those that print significant quantities of business graphics – or just those whose mix/balance of document types is unusual.

So, by adapting to printing behaviour, the printer can provide the user with a much more accurate and reliable idea of how long the cartridge is likely to last and when a new cartridge is likely to be needed.

Furthermore, an IOS/Android app is now available not just for printing from mobile devices but also allowing the print queue to be accessed remotely.  In addition, WiFi Direct is now accessible on wireless versions at the same time as the network WiFi connection.

The perfect printer?
These new LaserJets may be the best that HP has yet produced but are they the perfect printers?

Needless to say, no company ever launches a new product knowing that it is inferior to the previous generation.  We only have to watch TV advertisements to see how often the words “Our best yet” are used.

However, it is not the manufacturer that has the final say on this matter.  Ultimately it is the user who defines ‘best’.  Mentioning no names, the operating system most people use on their computer is probably the prime example of this.  User satisfaction with certain generations should have caused acute embarrassment to the manufacturer concerned, despite the claims that each new generation is the “best yet”.

Where these laser printers are concerned, the proof of the pudding is in the eating, as the saying goes.  Technically, we can see that this generation does indeed count as the “best yet” but the perfect printer still has not been made and there are bound to be areas in which these machines do come in for criticism.

In fact, I can reveal one of them now!

While testing a current printer from Hewlett-Packard (that has been on the market for a year or more), it was found that the ‘print from cloud’ feature is not perfect.  Compare the two pages in the image below.

cpl20dp print from cloud

The page on the left is how this test page should print from Google Drive using the ‘print from cloud’ app (printing from Google Drive), and does print on printers from at least one other manufacturer with the same feature – Brother.

The page on the right is how that same file printed on the machine being tested.  At the launch event, last Tuesday in Frankfurt, I was able to check out the ‘print from cloud’ app on the new personal level MFP (Colour LaserJet Pro M277 MFP), only to find that the issue has not been resolved.

In fact, the ‘print from cloud’ app proved to have other issues as well, such as: not showing all files available for printing in the cloud folder; completely illogical listing of available files; unwieldy user interface for service log-on; and poor log-on security (requiring the user to reduce the security level on their Google Drive account in order to allow “less secure” apps to connect to it (again, not a problem with Brother’s app!).

Considering that the landscape page rotation issue has not been addressed, it is only fair to reckon that the other issues will not have been addressed yet either.

These are small points – but they will annoy someone, somewhere, sometime.  And, besides, no manufacturer likes to leave issues unaddressed once it knows of them.  It is a matter of pride.  Hopefully Hewlett-Packard will see to this as a matter of priority and implement the changes in firmware updates for all machines concerned.

Despite the odd annoyance, there can be no doubt at all that these new devices are the best yet produced by Hewlett-Packard and that they will be very well received in the business printing environment.

Smaller, faster, greener and more economical can only be good and these devices certainly fit the bill.  To be able to increase speed and reduce size simply by reformulating the toner is impressive.

As a first stage, there are four machines available – two at a personal level (up to five sharers); and two at an enterprise level.  These are:

  • Colour LaserJet Pro M252 (2 versions)
  • Colour LaserJet Pro M277 MFP (2 versions)
  • Colour LaserJet Enterprise M552dn
  • Colour LaserJet Enterprise M553 (3 versions)


Key performance features/innovations of the series individually comprise:

Colour LaserJet Pro M252

  • Duplex printing (M252dw) 29% faster than leading competition
  • First Page to Print 38% faster (13% faster than leading competition)
  • Total energy consumption 24% lower
  • Physical size 28% smaller

Colour LaserJet Pro M277 MFP

  • Duplex printing 33% faster than leading competition
  • First Page to Print 38% faster (28% faster than leading competition)
  • Total energy consumption 13% lower
  • Physical size 41% smaller (35% smaller than leading competition)

Colour LaserJet Enterprise M552 and M553

  • First Page to Print 7.0 sec from ready and 9.0 sec from sleep!
  • Duplex printing (M552dn, M553dn & M553x) 100% of simplex print speed

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