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Customer Review

219 of 226 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Fairly priced and reliable at first--Then, not, March 14, 2010
This review is from: HP Officejet 7000 Wide Format Printer (C9299A#B1H) (Office Product)
Please be aware, before buying this printer, that it uses traditional four-color (cyan, magenta, yellow, black (CMYK)) technology. While four-color printing is the standard for offset color printing (i.e.: the process used by commercial printing plants), this printer is not capable of producing the lifelike continuous tones of a six-or-more color printer designed for printing photographs. That doesn't mean it's bad for its intended use--the speedy printing of typical business documents on plain paper, or getting output that simulates the four-color offset printing process--but it does mean that shoppers looking for photographic-quality output should look for a different printer better suited to that objective.

On behalf of a family member who works as a commercial artist, I wanted a large-format printer to replace a pair of ancient Epsons that constantly clogged. I bought a new large-format Epson (Workforce 1100--see my review) thinking that 15 years of development since my old printers were made would mean Epson had solved the clogging problem. I was mistaken--it clogged almost immediately and took multiple ink-consuming cleaning cycles to clear before it clogged again--so I returned it.

I was somewhat wary of this OfficeJet 7000, since it has gotten some very articulate and feature-specific negative reviews on Amazon. However, I took a chance because A. there are very few large-format inkjet printers available, and B. those that HP sells specifically for graphics users (DesignJets) hover around the $1000 mark--They may be very good printers, but I didn't want to spend that much.

Making sure that the local store I bought my OfficeJet 7000 from had a reasonable return policy, I dragged the large box home and began to unpack it. The first thing that surprised me was seeing that it has built-in ethernet--a rare feature among printers in this price range. While I don't need to network the printer at the moment, and I don't know how well it works, it's nice to know we have that option down the road, without buying additional hardware. I connected it via USB (you'll need your own cable), and got to work.

Installation of the printhead and supplied starter inks was fast and easy, and the software installed quickly on my Mac (OS X). As I recall, the printer then started its own ink priming/calibration routine that took about 15 minutes--a one-time thing, unless you want to manually run it again later (I have not had to).

With its print driver set to maximum quality, output quality on the 7000 (from Adobe Illustrator on a Mac) is very good--Again, for its intended use of printing business documents and graphic designs with solid blocks of color, not photos intended for framed art. In general, output colors are very bright and close to what I see on the screen--and this is on plain paper--although darker colors (like deep browns) appear just a bit washed out, and there is no setting I can find in the print driver to directly fine-tune this density.

Speaking of software, the 7000 comes with a decent CD that not only inserts the usual controls for various basic printer settings into the OS-level print dialog (OS X, in my case), but includes gadgets that let you run utilities on the printer such as head cleaning and additional calibration cycles (haven't needed it) and track what you've printed and how often you've interacted with the printer for such events as ink cartridge changes. Just keep in mind, if you are a user looking for endless print output tweakability, this software doesn't have much--It was clearly designed for the simplicity that business users want. The good news, as I mentioned above, is that I've found its output to be quite color-accurate without a lot of tweaking, even if the dark mixed colors suffer a bit (black is fine). However, if you really want press-proof quality output, check out one of the HP printers designed for the graphic arts.

Like all inkjets, the OfficeJet 7000 is built on the model of selling you the printer relatively cheaply, then making money for the manufacturer on your future ink purchases. I can accept this reality, and the less-than-perfect color calibration (of dark colors) if I know the printer will work reliably, and so far this 7000 has been a champ. After years of dealing with the endless clogs (and unreplaceable printheads) of Epson printers, I am luxuriating in the sheer joy and novelty of a printer that just uncomplainingly puts ink down on paper without clogging every ten minutes. It's been six weeks and not a single clog. And while I would characterize the 7000's actual printing speed as "pretty fast" compared to my retired Epsons, the biggest improvement in overall output speed has come from simply not having to take time out to unclog the old Epsons' finicky heads.

As for reviews that mention paper jams, I can only guess that such reviewers got lemons, because my 7000 has been jam-free from the beginning, even with light cardstock that has to bend around a paper path that starts with the front-load tray. I would have preferred a printer with the option of a straight-through paper path (like the Epson Workforce 1100) for heavier stock, but that's a minor quibble when you consider how much more reliable it has been.

Update from 12/2011:

Everything I've said in the review above remained true until a few months ago, when the printer began having problems feeding the last few inches of a sheet of paper. Remember, this printer is capable of borderless printing, something I use regularly to print designs to the edge of the paper. Suddenly, the printer began stopping its normal paper feed when the print head was an inch or two from the end of the sheet on such a borderless print, while the print head would continue going left and right and laying down ink as if the paper was moving. When it was done with the print, it wouldn't eject the paper, either--It just sat there, and when you physically yanked out the paper, you'd find a muddy mess of ink which reflected the non-movement of paper.

Fortunately, I had purchased an extended warranty from the well-known national office product retailer I had bought the printer from. After horsing around with their online and on-phone tech support and extended warranty claims organization for a few hours, they finally agreed it was something not worth printing, and they refunded my original purchase price. (Although I was grateful for their honoring of my extended warranty, I was less than thrilled with their services. Not to mention any names, but I will say that their extended warranty claims organization did not exactly "Max" out my satisfaction level.)

I applied the refund toward a new copy of the same printer from the same retailer (amazingly, for $100 less than last time), and within hours I was having what appeared to be USB communication issues (switching to ethernet bypassed the problem, but didn't fix it). More importantly, the new printer began to exhibit (within days) the exact same paper mis-feed issue that the old one had! This time, I was obviously within HP warranty and received courteous phone support. After going through their standard firm-grasp-of-the-obvious questions (Is it plugged in? Are the ink carts installed? Did you press print?), they agreed to send a replacement refurb unit if I send the apparently defective (new) one back to them. I will keep you posted on whether the new (refurb) one they send displays the same problems or not.

Update from 3/2012:

Since my last update, nothing about the paper feed issue described above has been resolved. The HP support group (based in a Canadian call center) has been professional and competent, but they cannot fix the problem of paper feed. I am now on my second refurb replacement provided by HP, and it has the same issue that extends back to the original model that I wrote the original review about. HP understood my frustration and offered a choice of next steps, one of which is a refund. After reading other reviews by users frustrated with similar paper feed issues, I have opted for the refund and will try a different brand, or possibly upgrade to the HP DesignJet model.

In summary, everything I said about my original copy of this printer is true, and that one deserves its original four stars. However, when it failed after nearly two years, no replacement copy of this same model has ever performed as well again in regard to paper feeding, despite their consistently good print quality preceding the last few inches of borderless output. I will conclude this review by changing my rating on this printer to three stars and giving sincere kudos to HP's hard-working support organization, which has undoubtedly spent far more on servicing this issue and shipping printers back and forth than they ever made as profit on the device (of course, I have bought a few hundred dollars worth of ink from them in the last few years). If you get a good copy of this printer, it is very good. If you get a bad copy, it is maddeningly annoying for large-format/borderless paper feed, and therefore almost useless. Read all reviews and make an informed choice before you bite this hook.
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Showing 1-10 of 21 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Jul 2, 2010 3:26:25 PM PDT
You say that the browns print a bit off from the Adobe suite... how off? I returned my Epson Workforce 1100 for that very reason, and it seems only Canon printers can get the image identical to the screen... but I dont want to pay half a G just to do what I need to do...

Thanks in advance, if you respond.

In reply to an earlier post on Jul 2, 2010 6:51:04 PM PDT
Regrettably, color is so subjective for each person that I can't get much more specific in words. The good thing about this printer is that it's relatively cheap, and if you buy it from some place with a good return policy, you can try it out and send it back if it doesn't do what you want. My wife uses ours for commercial design projects and--though she is far more picky about color than I am--she's been quite pleased overall with the color and especially the speed. The cost of ink (high) is another matter, but when you need decent prints--reliably delivered (hasn't clogged yet--ever!) to help clients see what they'll be getting, I guess you just have to consider it a cost of doing business.

In reply to an earlier post on Aug 29, 2010 11:21:13 AM PDT
MouseMargo says:
thank you so much for your very detailed reviews. They have been very helpful to me.

In reply to an earlier post on Sep 13, 2010 1:02:13 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Sep 13, 2010 1:02:41 PM PDT
SunnyGirl22 says:
I, too appreciate your detailed reviews of the Epson and HP wide format printers. I'm about to kick my 3rd Epson wide-format Photo printer out to the curb - they make beautiful prints for a while and then the clogging, clogging, clogging begins...don't get me started! But you understand. Your experience w/ the HP sounds good, but from others comments I think I should buy from a walk in store w/ a good return policy, like Office Depot? Sounds like some lemons might exist. Are you still real happy w/ your HP after 6 months? Can you use generic ink w/ this printer w/ good results? My last Epson refused to work w/ generics. thanks!

In reply to an earlier post on Sep 13, 2010 3:39:38 PM PDT
Yes, we are still happy with the printer after about eight months (I wrote the review after six weeks of ownership).

I can't find generic refills for this printer, and don't want to try to refill the HP ones myself since everything is working so well and I don't want to jinx it. My wife is getting the output she needs, reliably, so we will continue to pay the HP ink syndicate what they need to keep delivering output that works. When creating time-sensitive business-related output, there is something to be said for reliability, even if it costs you up front, and HP has delivered for us.

As for buying the printer locally vs online, that is really your choice, depending on the price you can get it for, where you are located, and whether you mind repacking and shipping things back if you have problems. I normally buy online, and Amazon covered return shipping of the Epson I bought from them, but after returning that we were in a hurry to get a different printer so I bought the HP from a local store in case it turned out to be as flaky as the Epson. It has proven satisfactory, but I still like the idea that I can (with the extended warranty I also purchased from the local store) just carry the covered printer into the local store instead of having to box it all back up again.

In reply to an earlier post on Sep 14, 2010 8:07:37 AM PDT
SunnyGirl22 says:
I'm glad to hear your continued good performance w/ the printer, after 8 months. I'm leaning towards the HP, though reading Epson and HP reviews, lots of people are enraged about both, while others praise them both! Still, I've always had Epsons and encountered the same problems w/ ink and clogging so the HP is looking good. Yes, I think I'll buy at a store so I don't have to pack it up to return. Office Depot has a "no questions asked" policy w/ their extended service contract, and that is quite appealing. Thanks again! Elise

Posted on Oct 27, 2010 9:55:06 AM PDT
Daniel says:
Thanks for the review. Your review for this and the Epson printer have been very helpful. How well does it handle 13" width paper from your experience? Also, it says that the maximum paper size is 13" x 19". However, do you know if it would be possible to print on a custom paper size that is longer like 13" x 20" (I have a specific need to print on this paper size). Thanks!

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 10, 2010 7:08:02 PM PST
Perhaps the specs you refer to, which say the max paper size is 13 x 19, is talking about paper sizes that are predefined when you install the printing software. According to the PDF manual for this printer, it can print paper up to 13" wide and 43.9" long. This would presumably require defining such dimensions as a custom paper size through some combination of the included print driver and OS-level printing software. Unfortunately, I have not tried printing at this size, nor even 13" wide paper. I do know that 11 x 17 paper (the largest I have on hand) works perfectly.

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 11, 2011 9:37:22 AM PST
Percy Chow says:
Thanks Tom - like you I was a diehard EPSON fan. I love how photos and proofs look - even with their CMYK printers. But like you too, the stupid thing clogged SO much. When I finally gave up on EPSON, I had a mountain of 13 x 19 matte, glossy photo paper just wasted (and more boxes unused).

EPSON just hasn't figured out how to make a high-volume printer like HP.

As far as color, agreed, color tweaking is a mystery. I usually get my best results with the simple default settings and just messing with the "paper/type" feature. I find for proofing, using "glossy photo paper" for paper (both in option and paper) yields results on par with Rainbow proofs that I get from my press house.

In reply to an earlier post on Apr 19, 2011 3:44:53 PM PDT
Resh says:
How is the photo print quality off this printer? Can you comment on this? Are they better than Photosmart or as par with them?
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