* Prices may differ from that shown
At work we have just replaced our office laser printer. After many years of loyal service, our old Hewlett-Packard (HP) printer had sadly printed its final page. We decided to replace the printer with another HP printer as we are very happy with their quality. The model we decided to go for was the M2727 nfs multifunctional device. Quickly we unboxed the printer and began installing the drivers and software suite.
What is a multifunctional device
A multifunctional device is one that not only prints but also boasts the functionality of a scanner and a photocopier. Some of the more expensive multifunctional devices also include a fax machine. The HP M2727 falls into this category, as did our old printer meaning that we were in a good position to monitor the quality of this device against our old, but similar device.
Installing the drivers and software
Now, being IT experts, you would expect this stage to have been simple for us. Nothing could have been further from the truth however. If you want to set this multifunctional device on a home network via a router, you will have no problems at all due to the fact that all you need is an IP address (in basic terms an address to uniquely identify it on your network). You will have full access to printing, scanning, copying and faxing in roughly 20 minutes. Going through our corporate network though, presented us with problem after problem. We use Novell netware to manage all of our printer object and although the HP technical specification quite clearly states that Novell iPrint is supported, I can tell you from personal experience that this isn't strictly true. You can install the print drivers via iPrint, but anything else is off limits. Even the drivers which came with the device didn't seem to want to work. No matter how many times we installed them, whenever we came to print, we got a popup message telling us the drivers were not installed. In order to get the printing part working correctly, we had to download brand new drivers from the HP website.
Scanning is still not available to us however which I find to be extremely poor seeing as this is marketed as a network device. We are able to photocopy as this is done manually and can even be done without the need to turn a computer on. We are also able to manually fax documents by using the devices keypad but this can be a bit of a bind when you want to fax electronic documents we have to print them out and then fax them instead of the intended method of faxing straight from the computer.
Tour of the M2727
The M2727 is very similar in its looks to our old Laserjet 3380, in fact, the two devices could quite easily be confused for one another as the M2727 only has a few distinctive features that were not found on the 3380. The obvious difference is that the M2727 is now white whereas its predecessor was a rather more appealing silver and black.
On the top of the device is the copying and scanning tray. There is a paper holder here for you to place any pages that you need copying. The device will then automatically feed in each sheet in turn before returning both your original and the newly copied version.
Lifting up the copier lid will give you the scanner section. This operates exactly the same as any other standalone scanner, however, due to the fact the software will not properly recognise the device, I am still unable to use this functionality and therefore am not able to comment on its ease of use or quality.
Continuing down the front of the device, we now come to the main control area. This is where everything is managed from. Rather than just listing the keys in this section, I'll break it down into functions in an attempt to give a better understanding of what you can do.
Fax - The fax section of the control area allows you to store upto 16 pre-defined fax numbers. These are accessible via 8 buttons (numbered 1 to 8) with fax numbers 9 to 16 being accessed by pressing down the shift key before the number. For our purposes 16 is more than enough but should you wish to fax someone else then you can manually dial each number.
Generic section - The middle part of the control area is more generic and doesn't concentrate on any single function. There is a numeric keypad here which, as well as being used as a dialer for the fax functions, can also be used for functions such as number of copies of a document and for navigating through the devices menu structure. To the right of the numeric pad is the lcd display. This is only big enough to contain 3 lines of text but this is sufficient in my opinion. As well as showing the status of any job that is currently printing, this screen also shows you menu items and configurations. One thing I didn't like about navigating the menu structure is that there are a number of menus which require passwords. When attempting to find out what this password was, I was told that only HP know the password and they don't give it out as it is only for engineers when they have to do a site visit. In my opinion, things like this should not be on a user menu as they only serve to confuse people as they automatically thing that they have forgotten the password.
Copy - Moving further across the control area, we next come to the copy section. Here you can specify options such as the quality and brightness of the copy as well as any collating options for multi page documents. There is also a button to enable you to select how many copies you need, this is done in conjunction with the numeric pad.
Scan - The final section of the control area is the scan area. In theory, you place your document under the scanner lid and press the scan button and the document is transferred as an electronic document to your computer. As the device cannot communicate on our network, this functionality is dormant which is a shame as there are quite a few times when we want to take an extract from a magazine or book and turn it into a PDF document or include it in a powerpoint presentation.
Below the control area is a big gap which doubles up as the printed document store. This is a massive area and you would easily get a ream (500 pages) into here although I wouldn't recommend that you printed 500 pages without collecting your work as there is nothing to stop it all falling on the floor when it piles up. I would say that if you let any more than 75 pages pile up in this area then you need to be prepared to pick it up off the floor and re-order it.
Under the document storage area is the printers toner cartridge. This section opens up very easily and the toner cartridge slides in and out with ease. Next to the toner section is a very neat, yet simple stapling function. Simply, push your document into the staple gap and pull it out with a neat staple in the top left hand corner. Whilst this works well, you can't use standard staples meaning that once they have run out, you have to buy a new cassette of official HP staples which seems a little bit excessive in my opinion.
At the very bottom of the printer are the blank paper trays. On the 3380, there was only one paper tray meaning that if you needed to print on two different types of paper (plain and letterhead for example) you would have to keep swapping the stationery over. With the M2727, you get two paper trays as standard which means that you can now keep all your plain paper in one tray and letterheaded paper or any other type in a separate tray. All you need to do is tell the printer which tray to print from. This works really well and cuts out situations where you have changed the paper in a tray only for someone else to beat you to the print button and they print their draft spreadsheet on your letterheaded paper.
The HP Laserjet M2727 uses the Q7553a (HP 53A) toner cartridge. This costs around £40 and will print approximately 3000 pages depending on black coverage for each page
The Laserjet M2727 promises a lot but I can't help feeling it disappoints in so many areas. When I saw the boss had bought a fully networkable printer, I was quite excited at the prospect of being able to use all the functions we couldn't on our previous device. The software installation is a complete mess and I challenge anyone to accomplish this first time without the need to download an update from the HP website. What all this means is that we have a brand new printer which doesn't give us anything that our trusty old 3380 didn't apart from a stapler and an extra paper tray. The print and copy quality of this device is excellent but it just seems as if HP have produced exactly the same printer that we already had, under a different name.