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HP DeskJet 970Cxi Review
Reviewed by Voxeros (2nd January 2000)

- The Good
- The Bad
- Conclusion
- Rating

The HP DeskJet 970C Professional Series printer is HP's premier DeskJet printer. Get results that look most like a photo with Hewlett-Packard's enhanced Color Layering technology. But don't mistake the HP DeskJet 970C Professional Series printer for a photo only printer. With speeds of up to 12 pages per minute in black and 10 pages per minute in color plus intelligent features that save time and money, this printer provides unparalleled performance in its class.

Let us take a look at the specifications:


Specifications

Print Speed, Black EconoFast Mode: up to 12 ppm
Normal Mode: up to 6.5 ppm
Print Speed, Color EconoFast Mode: up to 10 ppm
Normal Mode: up to 5.3 ppm
Resolution Black: 600 dpi with REt
Color: HP enhanced Color Layering Technology from PhotoREt III (2400 x 1200 dpi mode included*)
Color Technology HP enhanced PhotoREt III, ColorSmart, RealLife Imaging System
Print Languages, Std. HP PCL Level 3 (enhanced)
Print Languages, Opt. Yes
Monthly Volume 5,000 pages
Paper Trays 1
Input Capacity 150 sheets
Envelope Input 15
Media Types Plain, inkjet, photo and glossy paper, envelopes, transparencies, labels, index cards, iron-on transfers, greeting cards, banner paper.

Media compatible with Automatic Two-sided Printing Module: plain, inkjet and glossy paper (up to 8.5 x 11 in), index cards (4 x 6 in to 5 x 8 in), custom size (4 x 6 in to 8.5 x 11 in)
Memory, Std. 4 MB built-in RAM; 4 KB buffer
Memory, Max. 4 MB built-in RAM; 4 KB buffer
Scalable Typefaces 8 built-in fonts, 4 each in portrait and landscape orientations: CG Times, CG Times Italic, Univers, Univers Italic, Courier, Courier Italic, Letter Gothic, Letter Gothic Italic
Connectivity, Std. IEEE 1284 Centronics parallel-compatible; Universal Serial Bus (Microsoft Windows 98, USB-connect Macintosh)
Connectivity, Opt. HP JetDirect external print servers
Warranty 1 year limited backed by HP Customer Care Service Support
Dimensions (W x H x D) 17.32 x 7.72 x 14.56 in (17.32 x 7.72 x 16.93 in with Automatic Two-sided Printing Module)

 


The Good

The installation was actually very easy and although we took slightly more than half an hour to hook it up to a Mac, we attributed it to user incompetence i.e. us. *grin*

I foresee this printer will be the first USB product for many people, especially the PC users, extra attention must be paid to the proper set up of the USB ports in both the CMOS as well as the Device Manager. However, there should not pose any problems if it is connected via the parallel port.

Once the printer was up, we were naturally excited to see what the printer is capable of. My test subject is a photograph of a cup and a saucer.

We set it to normal printing mode and we are impressed by its printing speed. Time taken excluding spooling was 1 min 20 sec which is approximately the speed of 0.6 ppm which is spot on with the printer's technical specs. What was also very impressive is the quietness of the printer as it goes about doing its job. I recalled how my trusty old Epson Stylus Pro used to rock my whole table when printing in high speed mode. The HP 970Cxi can thus be considered as the stealth fighter of the printers.

Quality-wise, it is just as impeccable. If you would refer to my test subject, the shiny and reflective part of the cup saucer (at the bottom left of the tea cup) was captured to near perfection. The most impressive part is that the reflective part of the saucer looked just as shiny even when printed on plain paper. In addition, the printing turned out to be pretty sharp and colour as captured marvelously even wthout calibration.

We later decided to print the same picture in best quality mode. The time taken was 2 min 27 sec. We held up the 2 print-outs for comparison and noticed not much difference in either sheet. From the look of things, printing in normal mode is good enough. Perhaps the difference between the 2 modes would be more significant if printed on other media like glossy paper or photo paper.

Another amazing feature is the automatic two-sided printing module (attached to the back of the printer) that allows you to print on both sides of the paper. How it works is that the printer will print on one side first and when it is done, it will draw the paper back into the module to have the paper flipped over for printing on the other side. Definitely a thumbs up from us as we are able to save paper and thereby contribute our little part in conservation. (Note: In case you are thinking about it, it is an offence to be printing money from the printer. Don't even try it!)

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The Bad

There is hardly any flaw in this printer for us to complain about. However, it is just felt that at the recommended retail price of S$699 with GST, this printer will remain out of reach to those with a smaller budget. For most home users, their printing volume is a tad difficult to justify having a S$699 machine sitting next to the PC. Looks like this printer is more targeted at office and SOHO.

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Test System Configuration

Computer Type / Model: Apple Macintosh G3
Processor(s) G3 266 Mhz
Ram 160 MB
HardDrive(s) IBM Deskstar 9 Gb
Operating System OS 9.0

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Conclusion

We were not at time of this article get our hands on any Epson printer for a head-on show down. As such we were not able to know how the HP 970Cxi stands up against Epson's variable-sized droplet printing technology in terms of speed and Epson's ultra micro dot printing technology in terms of printing quality.

Nonetheless, it is felt that this printer will make good its S$699 investment although we felt that the 1 year limited warranty is a wee bit too short. (Although the general industry-practice warranty period on IT peripherals are one-year limited, it will really be a plus point if HP could set the trend.) In all honesty, there is not much bad points to say about this printer. It is just a pity that the S$699 price tag will make it out of bounds to those who could have enjoyed the product but did not have the budget to meet it.

PS: For the Mac audience out there, perhaps you could take a look at this...

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PRODUCT RATING

Overall Rating
(Out of a maximum of 5 Star)

Installation *****
Performance *****
Price **1/2
Software Bundle ****
Material Quality ****
Overall Rating ****1/2


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Last updated December 23, 1999.

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