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The HP 710 is a multi-function printer, scanner, copier and fax. My belief has always been that, unless you spend an awful lot of money, equipment like this tends to be versatile but not terribly efficient. So how does the HP 710 shape up? LOOKS ===== The 710 is a curious looking piece of equipment. Moulded in curvy grey plastic, there is a pull-out tray at the front that holds papers as they are printed or copied out – this looks rather like a giant mouth, and sat on top of my filing cabinet the whole arrangement looks rather like a decapitated alien’s head. There is a small panel to the left-hand side that contains all the control buttons, and the standard number buttons, but the rest of the unit is plain. Initially, I wasn’t so keen on the design, but I have warmed to it and now quite like it. INSTALLATION AND START-UP ========================== Installing the printer software was a very simple exercise, completed by download from a disc supplied with the unit. The software enables users to operate the fax and scanner directly from the PC, as well as using the manual method. The machine arrived whole – all I had to do was attach the paper feed trays and plug it in. Designated set up instructions are supplied with the equipment – rather wastefully in ten different language variations. One thing that I find intensely irritating about the machine is that every time I start up my PC, the printer does a trial print page, which is time-consuming and wasteful – I always have to remember to press stop as part of my log-in procedure. FAX MACHINE – OPERATION ======================== I haven’t had any problems sending a fax manually – you literally insert the document and dial the number – that’s about it. Receiving faxes is automatic, and the print resolution is very good – faxes with more than one page take an average time to p
rint off, but then this isn’t designed for large scale fax reception anyway. One thing I do like about the machine is that as soon as you have inserted the page to fax, it beeps and displays DOCUMENT READY – many fax machines that I have used don’t tell you whether the document is ready or not and you fiddle around for ages trying to send the fax, without realising you have inserted the paperwork incorrectly. The advantage with sending faxes electronically is the improved text/image quality. With the HP710 software, sending a fax is extremely easy as the necessary steps are presented in the normal user-friendly wizard type menu. The other benefit from sending faxes electronically is that they can be sent in colour (provided they can be received in colour of course!). You also have the option of a PC generated cover page, which saves the time of typing one up and printing it off. Every time you send a fax you are also given the option of adding names to a personal phone book, which would be a useful feature to a regular user. When you first set up and install the software you are prompted for your own user details, and these are used by default every time you send a fax so that you don’t have to keep entering them. You can also set the fax default so that the fax is received electronically through your PC – great if you want to work in a paperless office! SCANNER – OPERATION ==================== Operation of the scanner is a simple as sending the fax – the document is simply inserted, Scan is selected from the HP710 software programme and then a number of preferences are set. A very useful feature is the ability scan the text for editing. This essentially means that you can scan a paper document into a text file, which you can then load onto the PC and edit – this could save lots of time typing up the body of the document if you don’t already have an electronic copy. You also have th
e facility to customise the settings of how the scanned document appears – i.e. brightness, resolution. When I have scanned A4 documents I have found that the scanned image is larger than A4, and that you need to amend the settings to ensure it scans at A4 size. That aside, the quality of the scanned images is excellent whether in black and white or colour, and the speed of the scan is more than adequate. One thing that should be remembered is that scanned files default to the My Images directory and the file name reverts to scan1.bmp each time – clicking Yes to saving this way will overwrite an image saved previously. Once the image has been scanned, it will be loaded onto your PC via the image viewer. This presents the scanned image on screen and enables you to cut, resize and amend the picture as well as printing or faxing the document straight away – you can even enable the software to email the picture as an attachment. A useful accessory that comes with the printer is scan/copy sleeves, which are A4 sized, and can be used to hold smaller documents or photos in place in the machine so that it can scan them more easily, and so that you can position them as you require. COPIER – OPERATION ================== It will come as no surprise that the copier speed is very slow. The use of this machine as a copier is therefore strictly limited to emergencies. I seldom need to copy documents, but in the event that I need to copy in significant quantities I would use a proper photocopying machine. For the odd sheet, however, the HP 710 performs quite adequately and gives a good quality copy. Using the OfficeJet Manager to copy provides the opportunity to change the brightness, quality or size of the copy. PRINTER – OPERATION =================== Sadly, considering this is the facility that I use most, this feature is where the HP710 lets me down. The print speed is unacceptably slow,
and I have seen much faster print speeds on much cheaper printer equipment. Whilst the quality of the print is good for black and white copies, the ink takes a fair while to dry on the sheets, so not only do you need to wait for the sheet to be printed, you need to wait 10 seconds or so before you can handle the printed paper. When the printer is printing more than one sheet it will often stall, and display the message INK DRYING for about ten seconds. Many times I have gone to pick up the paper without realising this is happening and have nearly ripped the sheet that is being part-held in the output tray. Black and white copies dry to a perfectly acceptable print, but colour copies are not such good quality. The individual pixels are quite visible, and the amount of ink required to generate the print makes the paper very damp – which inevitably means crinkled sheets when dry. I would therefore recommend the purchase of high quality ink jet paper for those occasions when you need a good quality colour print. (Epson S041061 is effective, although quite expensive). Also, to be fair, there is an additional photo cartridge which can be inserted in place of the black and white cartridge – this gives photo quality prints. SUPPORT AND SUPPLIES ==================== The User Guide that comes with the machine is excellent – well laid-out and easy to use. There are clear instructions on just about every element of usage, with clear diagrams and screen dumps to support the instructions. The printer requires two ink cartridges – one black and the other multi-colour – which are simple enough to install. My printer is relatively new, so I cannot confirm how long the cartridges last, but I probably use the equipment much more than average anyway. There is a second information booklet (why it can’t all be included in the user guide I’m not sure) and this provides contact numbers for support and for ordering H
P official supplies (which could be bought much cheaper in places like Staples to be honest). OVERALL CONCLUSIONS ===================== My initial impressions of the 710 are probably still quite accurate. Whilst the machine is extremely versatile and boasts a wealth of features and functions, it is primarily the speed issue that lets it down. I was supplied with a 710 free of charge by my company, so I’m not sure what the retail price is (PC World didn’t stock it when I checked). For a light to medium user the 710 is probably more than adequate, but heavy users may find it just a tad frustrating.