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TCPglobal Special: Hewlett-Packard enhances functionality on new Officejet All-in-One range, including A3, while retaining proven cost-effectiveness of HP920 inkjet engine. Part 2 of 4.

Issue #1012 – Note: This series of articles has been sponsored by Hewlett-Packard Company prior to being published in TCPglobal. But, as with all TCPglobal articles, it is nonetheless an independent assessment of the hardware and solutions concerned and expresses only the views and opinions of the author and not those of Hewlett-Packard. VIEW ARTICLE FREE OF CHARGE. – Hewlett-Packard’s Officejet All-in-One launch this autumn comprised three models – Officejet 6500A (mid-range A4 business inkjet); Officejet 6500A Plus (high-end A4 business inkjet); Officejet 7500A (A3 business inkjet). This second of four articles starts to look at competitive comparisons between these models and the available competition, starting with the Officejet 6500A.

Competitive comparisons
So, to move on to direct comparisons with the competition, the line-up has been selected to compete on price and specification and ordered into three categories, one for each of the three new Hewlett-Packard AiOs.

As, by definition, the Officejet range does not in any respect apply to the low-end consumer category, many of which are also used in small businesses, the new Hewlett-Packard Officejet 6500A is described as mid-range rather than low-end.

Therefore, we start with the 6500A, classed as a mid-range A4 business inkjet AiO, moving on to the Officejet 6500A Plus, classed as a high-end A4 business inkjet AiO and finally the A3 business inkjet AiO class for the Officejet 7500A. The term ‘professional’ is reserved for the Officejet Pro range, for which there is still no direct competition.

Mid-range A4 Business Inkjet
All of the other major inkjet manufacturers (Brother, Canon, Epson and Lexmark) are active in both the mid-range and high-end A4 segments but none offer the breadth and depth of functionality found in the new Officejet 6500A.

There are really only two hardware features missing from the 6500A – auto-duplex printing and wireless connectivity – but, as no other AiO in the group offers auto-duplex as a feature (Canon MX310 offers manual duplexing), this is entirely in keeping with the class of device.

A slightly different prospect though, Brother’s MFC-490CW, Canon’s MX310 and Lexmark’s S405 all offer wireless networking as standard, while all devices in the group apart from the Lexmark offer wired network connectivity.

From Hewlett-Packard’s perspective, reserving wireless connectivity and auto-duplex printing for the high-end 6500A Plus, ensures a suitable degree of differentiation in the range and choice for the prospective buyer. Clear differentiation is always a good move to assist the customer in making the best purchase decision and Hewlett-Packard has definitely hit the right note in the Officejet range.

HP Officejet 6500A-2Hewlett-Packard
Officejet 6500A

Paper input capacity is frequently an issue with inkjet devices, often limited to just 100 or 150 sheets – while adequate for a home environment, this is not a suitable capacity for a business device.

Brother MFC-5490CNBrother MFC-5490CN

Hewlett-Packard’s Officejet 6500A stands out head and shoulders in this respect with an input capacity of 250 sheets – greatly appreciated, especially in conjunction with the device’s ability to accept XL cartridges with black yield rated at 1,200 pages! None of the other machines in this class offer input capacity higher than 150 pages and then only Brother’s MFC-5490CN matches this capacity – but, this device is limited to use of standard capacity ink cartridges with rated yields of only 450 pages for black and 325 pages for each of the colours.

Brother
MFC-490CW
Print speed
Network
Interfaces
Paper in
 
ADF
Display
Scan to
 
Supplies
33ppm black / 27ppm colour / 10×15 photo 30 secs
Wired and Wireless
USB 2.0 / PictBridge / Memory Card Slots
Up to 100 sheets / 20-sheet dedicated photo
paper tray
15-sheet
3.3” wide-screen colour LCD
PDF / File / Email / Application / OCR / USB /
Memory Card
LC-1100 series (K = 450 pages, C / M / Y = 325 pages)
Brother
MFC-5490CN
Print speed
Copy speed
Network
Interfaces
Paper in
ADF
Display
Scan to
 
Supplies
Other
35ppm black / 28ppm colour
23ppm black / 20ppm colour
Wired
USB 2.0 / PictBridge / Memory Card Slots
150 sheets
50 sheets
2-line LCD
PDF / Image / File / Email / OCR / USB /
Memory Card
LC-1100 series (K = 450 pages, C / M / Y = 325 pages)
Ships with Scansoft PaperPort 11SE
Canon
PIXMA MX350
Print speed
 
Copy speed
Network
Interfaces
Paper in
ADF
Display
Scan to
Supplies
 
Other
 
ISO 8.4ppm black / 4.8ppm colour /
10×15 photo 43 secs
ISO 3.4ipm
Wired & Wireless
USB 2.0 / PictBridge / Memory Card Slots
100-sheet rear feed
30-sheet
2.44” colour TFT
PDF / USB / Email
PG-510BK, 220 pages / CL-511, CMY = 244 pages
PG-512BK, 401 pages / CL-513, CMY = 349 pages
Manual duplex printing / Easy-WebPrint EX / N-up
copying / External TAD interface / Manual fax switch
Epson
Stylus Office
BX310FN
Print speed
Network
Interfaces
Paper in
ADF
Display
Scan to
Supplies
 
 
 
Other
38ppm black / 20ppm colour (16/5.5ppm ISO)
Wired
USB 2.0
120 sheets
30 sheets
2-line LCD
Details not quoted
T0711H (K = 830 pages with 2 cartridges)
T0711 (K = 465 pages with 2 cartridges
T0712-4 (C / M / Y = 350 pages)
T1002-4 (C / M / Y = 840 pages)
Ships with Presto PageManager
Hewlett-Packard
Officejet 6500A
Print speed
Network
Interfaces
Paper in
ADF
Display
Scan to
Supplies
 
Other
 
32ppm black / 31ppm colour (10/7ppm ISO)
Wired
USB 2.0 / Memory card Slots
250 sheets
35 sheets
2.36” Touchscreen colour LCD
Internet / PC / Network folder / Email
HP920 series – K = 420, C / M / Y = 300
HP920XL series – K = 1200, C / M / Y = 700
ePrint / Web Apps / MarketSplash / ID Copy /
Smart Web Printing
Lexmark
Interpret S405
Print speed
Copy speed
Network
Interfaces
Paper in
ADF
Display
Scan to
Supplies
 
33ppm black / 30ppm colour / 10×15 photo 24 secs
25ppm black / 21ppm colour
Wireless 
USB 2.0 / PictBridge / Memory card slots
100 sheets
35 sheets
2.4” Colour LCD
Details not quoted
#100 series (K = 170 pages, C / M / Y = 200 pages)
#100XL series (K = 510 pages, C / M / Y = 600 pages)

Although quoted draft black print speed for the 6500A is not the highest in the group, quoted draft colour print speed is the fastest. It is Epson’s draft black speed, quoted at 38ppm, compared to the Officejet’s 32ppm, that takes first place here. This speed is achieved by the use of twin print heads and two black ink cartridges.

However, experience with Hewlett-Packard print heads (with native 1,200dpi nozzle density) tells me that draft print quality will almost certainly exceed that available in draft mode from the other manufacturers.

This means that draft mode, or at least ‘fast normal’, may be used on the Officejet 6500A as the default setting for many print jobs, thus ensuring the fastest possible delivery of high quality documents not destined for delivery to customers.

Epson Stylus Office BX310FNEpson Stylus Office
BX310FN

Not all manufacturers yet quote print speed to the ISO standard. Of those that do, Hewlett-Packard’s Officejet 6500A (at 10ppm) again falls a little short of the speed offered by Epson’s BX310FN (16ppm). However, Epson cannot match the speed offered by the 6500A for colour printing – 5.5ppm against 7ppm.

Epson is, however, the manufacturer most closely challenging Hewlett-Packard in this sector, with ink yields as high as 830 pages from the two black cartridges (sold in twin-packs) and 840 pages from each of the colour cartridges.

On top of the hardware implications of buying the Officejet 6500A come the internet connectivity and software functionality described above. And, it doesn’t end there. Hewlett-Packard may be asking buyers to pay a little more for the device than its competitors are asking but is certainly not asking its customers to spend more than its competitors in the long-term!

With a median purchase price of just over €150, the Officejet 6500A is not quite the most expensive device in the group to buy, while Epson’s aggressively targeted Stylus Office BX310FN is the least expensive by a considerable margin – coming in at 22% less than Lexmark’s S405 and 35% less than the Officejet 6500A.

Median Hardware Purchase Price

Mid-Range A4 Business Inkjet AiO


Note: The median price of the Officejet 6500A is an estimate based on the assumption that it will sell at the same price as the existing Officejet 6500.

Both Canon and Lexmark models fall in the middle ground but, surprisingly, it is Brother’s models that take most of the top end of the price scale with the MFC-490CW being the most expensive by 8%.

Lexmark Interpret S405Lexmark Interpret S405

What does this mean in terms of running costs and overall Total Cost of Printing though? Purchase price is only the beginning of the story and is never the whole story in itself.

Let’s find out why?

In the chart below we see the basic nominal Cost Per Page of cartridges for each machine – one group of columns for black cartridges and one group for office colour printing using all cartridges together (CMYK).

Total Cost of Printing

Mid-Range A4 Business Inkjet AiO


Note that for this level of machine, the mixed mono/colour CPP over three years shown in the accompanying table and charts is calculated on the basis of 1,000 pages per month; 70% pages in mono and 30% pages in colour; is based on the use of maximum capacity supplies; takes into account any standard, or starter, supplies shipped with the device; and also includes the cost of purchase. All prices are median street price sourced in Germany and include tax.

These are simple calculations based on price of a cartridge divided by the number of pages the manufacturer says the cartridge should produce. The final group of columns is a much more complex calculation based on the number of pages printed per month over a three-year lifetime and reflects the amount of money a user will actually part with in order to print that number of pages – even if some ink is left in some cartridges at the end of the printer’s life.

Typically, high yield cartridges are more cost-effective than low-yield cartridges (more ink but only one cartridge to be manufactured and transported!). However, it is a marketing decision as to where the cartridges will sit in terms of positioning against the competition and therefore what prices will be assigned. Ultimately, cartridge price is assigned by the manufacturers to give them the payback they need in order to be profitable, based on an expected level of hardware sales and pages printed. Users are always paying for the page and not for the ink!

So, it is here that we see how hard Epson is competing against Hewlett-Packard, not only presenting the lowest-priced hardware unit on the market but pricing the supplies at a level that puts nominal CPPs fairly close to the level taken by Hewlett-Packard.

Canon Pixma MX350Canon Pixma MX350

That said, the percentage difference is still a significant 44% between the cost of black pages and 18% between the cost of (4-)colour pages.

All of the other manufacturers have priced their inks at a much higher level than either Epson or Hewlett-Packard.

It is Brother’s AiOs, however, that warrant a brief mention here. While attempting to be aggressive on price with black ink, to attract those business users printing mostly black pages, the colour inks are priced way above the levels of inks even from Canon and Lexmark! This places the nominal colour printing CPP at more than twice the level of the cost from Hewlett-Packard and 72% higher than nominal colour CPP from Epson.

Referring to the CPP over life portion of the chart, all of this balances out to the point where there is nothing much to choose between the cost of running the Brother, Canon or Lexmark machines. It is only the Epson Stylus Office BX310FN and Hewlett-Packard Officejet 6500A that stand out for cost-efficiency.

And, even then, Hewlett-Packard’s Officejet 6500A, despite its higher than average hardware purchase price, succeeds in pushing Epson’s BX310FN into second place by as much as 22% – a difference of €303 over three years or double the initial cost of the Officejet hardware!

As the chart above gives a snapshot picture based on a throughput of 1,000 pages per month, it is helpful to consider whether the situation changes with different monthly volumes.

With many groups of printers it is possible to see dramatic changes in competitive positioning according to monthly page volume. However, in this instance, because of the consistency of hardware pricing with supplies price, the chart below shows that there is no change at all in overall picture, even taking a wide range of page volumes from 500 to 2,500 per month. Brother models are persistently high up the scale of cost, closely followed by Canon and Lexmark, while the new Hewlett-Packard Officejet 6500A is clearly most cost-effective, never even coming close to being touched by the Epson Stylus Office BX310FN.

Total Cost of Printing

Mid-Range A4 Business Inkjet AiO


Where we do see a change is in the balance between printing a high proportion of colour pages as opposed to a high proportion of mono pages. The chart below shows Total Cost of Printing based on a mono to colour page balance of 70/30% while the chart on the next page shows the balance reversed to 30/70%.

Total Cost of Printing

Mid-Range A4 Business Inkjet AiO


Because Brother’s colour inks are relatively high-cost, especially in comparison to the cost of black ink, both of the Brother models now stand out well above all other models at the top of the cost scale. In fact, the cost handicap against the Officejet 6500A is a whopping 106%, even falling 30% above the level of the Lexmark S405.

In the next article (Part 3 of 4) we move up the range to investigate the Officejet 6500A Plus and competitors.

~ END OF PART 2 ~