HP's 2500C series pulls its weight in workgroups

HP's 2500C series pulls its weight in workgroups

By J.B. Miles

Hewlett-Packard Co. covers the full range of ink-jet color printers, starting with the $99 DeskJet 648C personal printer and continuing through increasing levels of performance.

If you're looking for sheer power, networkability and flexibility, go straight to the top, to HP's 2500C series of workgroup printers.

Priced between $999 and $1,499, the HP 2500C, C+ and CM printers are designed for small workgroups of five to 10 users and support all major operating systems, network environments and protocols. Each is capable of printing 11 pages per minute in black and white and 9 ppm in color when printing test drafts.

The company lists the units' output speeds at 9 ppm and 3 ppm for normal quality and 7.5 ppm and 1.5 ppm for best quality.

These aren't merely personal or small-office units hyped by their vendors to provide limited workgroup service. They have strong print engines, with 12,000-page-per-month duty cycles, and each has a standard input capacity of 400 sheets with a maximum of two trays.

Tips for buyers

' Personal and small-office ink-jet printers aren't designed to handle heavy print workloads.

' The costs of ink-jet printer consumables, such as ink cartridges and paper stock, will be higher than those used for black-and-white printing.

' Legal-size paper'8.5 inches by 14 inches'is the largest size most ink-jets can handle.

' Pairing a color ink-jet with a monochrome laser printer is an effective way to handle extensive text printing with occasional color graphics.

' Color ink-jets offer better photorealistic output than laser printers.

Each can handle typical media sizes and includes special drivers for 13- by 19-inch Super A3 paper stock. True 600-by-600 dots-per-inch resolution is standard, though HP's PhotoREt color layering software will let you produce higher resolutions.
Internal print server

All models come with a standard Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers 1284-compliant bidirectional parallel interface and one open input/output slot. The 2500Cse and C+ can be made network-ready with the addition of an HP JetDirect 400N internal print server; the 2500CM comes with the print server already installed.

HP's Modular Ink Delivery System, built into every printer in the series, consists of four individually tuned print heads and separate ink cartridges. Each contains a smart chip for communicating between the printer and the host PC and alerting users when ink cartridges and print heads need to be replaced or when ink supplies run low.

Unlike typical four-color integrated cartridge systems, only specific cartridges or print heads should be replaced when the need arises. This is a good hedge against total system failure and can help lower costs in print-intensive environments.

The $999 Cse comes with 4M of RAM and enhanced Printer Control Language 3. The $1,099 C+ model comes with 12M of installed RAM, and enhanced PCL3 and PCL5. The $1,499, fully network-ready 2500CM model comes with 20M of installed RAM, enhanced PCL3 and Adobe PostScript 3.

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