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Bottomless Ink Cartridges

Mfc985dwxlTired of paying for ink cartridges for your classroom printer? Brother’s latest MFC-J985DWXL printer will not need new ink for two years, assuming you print 200 pages a month. That’s because the it uses Brother’s INKvestment system and comes with three sets of ink tanks. That should be enough for more than 7,000 black and 3,600 color pages, by Brother's estimates, or two years of typical use. The printer itself is no slouch with not only a built-in scanner that can put images onto a variety online storage systems, but a 2.7-inch touch screen. The printer has free apps for phones and tablets, can print with near field communications and create documents on both sides of a sheet. 

Everything in Black and White

M5000 WF ProIf you’re tired of paying for color printing when all you create are black documents (like quizzes, worksheets and puzzles) on white paper, Epson’s WorkForce Pro M5000 Series Monochrome Printer can save some money. The $400 WF-M5694 uses the company’s PrecisionCore technology and has an input tray that holds 580 sheets at a time. It can scan, fax and copy as well as print, but its huge ink cartridges allow the WF Pro M5000 family to deliver up to 10,000 pages on a tank. It connects to a wired or WiFi network and prints as many as 20 pages per minute and prints on both sides of the paper.

Big Ink

2-HP PageWide Pro 577dw MFP PrinterIf you thought that HP’s OfficeJet Enterprise Color MFP X585 was the last word in big inkjet printers, think again. The HP PageWide Pro 552 uses HP’s latest PageWide technology that eliminates the back and forth of the printing head with a series of printing elements that span the entire width of the page. The 552 can deliver up to 50 pages per minute, has an automatic duplexer and with its optional paper trays, it can hold up to 1,500 sheets of paper. It’s got NFC and WiFi built in, has a 4.3-inch touchscreen and starts at $700.

Big Step Forward for Printing

M402n_center frontWhile most concentrate on color printing, HP is sticking to its knitting when it comes to economical monochrome laser printers, such as the LaserJet Pro M402 printer. Its white case is not only 18 percent smaller than the black M401 it replaces, but the printer is 30-percent faster and has faster duplex printing. Based on its new Precision Toner, the printer wakes up quickly, has higher capacity toner cartridges and offers direct printing of Office documents (along with .jpgs and .pdfs) from memory keys. But, the biggest step forward is that you can now print to one of HP’s new printers from Chromebooks without using Google’s sometimes awkward Cloud Printing service. HP lets you print locally over WiFi by just typing Control-P, just like a Windows system. As interesting as these things are, most buyers will be most impressed by the fact that the M402 will be available for about $50 less than the M401 it replaces.

Print with Android

MX7 - K7600GX Right PerspectiveToo many printers use obscure internal programming languages that make it hard to figure out what to do when something goes wrong. Not Samsung’s MultiXpress MX7 Series K7600GX, which speaks Android in an effort to make its abilities easier to fathom and use. The monochrome printer can pump out as many as 60 pages per minute, has a 10.1-inch color screen and in addition to printing, it faxes, scans and copies items. The print engine creates sharp 1,200- by 1,200 dot per inch documents and the first sheet comes out in as little as 7.5 seconds.

Speed Printing

Samsung MF4530It’s amazing how fast printers can produce documents when they print in just black toner. Samsung’s ProXpress $650 M4530ND is a high-speed printer that puts 1,200- by 1,200-dots per inch onto paper and tops out at 47 pages per minute of output. There’s also the $850 M4530NX that adds a color touch control screen. Both are suitable for a department, entire floor or a small school to share, have duplexing and can be connected via USB, a wired or wireless network or even with an optional NFC connection device for tap and print operations. The printers can also integrate with cloud storage systems for quick printing of stored items. While the standard toner module holds enough for 7,000 pages, Samsung makes cartridges for as many as 40,000 pages that can drive down printing costs dramatically.

Big Bags of Ink

Epson WF 8590Forget about changing the ink cartridges every week with Epson’s WorkForce WF-8950 super-printer. It’s based on the company’s Precision Core inkjet technology and rather than using small plastic ink modules, the system uses bags of ink to not only increase the volume to be enough to cover 75,000 pages, but also to cut the cost to the minimum. It can support a group of classrooms or even a small school by being able to pump out 24 pages per minute and hold more than three reams of paper. There’s a scanner/copier with a document feeder that can suck in 20 pages per minute.  The system can be connected via USB, wired networking or WiFi. This first of a new family of printers should be available by the end of the month.

Big Ink

HP X585 aAs schools consolidate their office and classroom printing into a handful of large machines, they usually choose a laser printer-copier, but HP has a better – and ultimately cheaper – way. The OfficeJet Enterprise Color MFP X585 not only is faster and less expensive to create a variety of documents, but it is a security king that can save on power.

To start, the OfficeJet MFP X585 is a lot of printer that weighs at least 80-pounds and will likely require two people to unpack and set up. It can not only scan and copy, but fax as well. The printer uses HP’s new pigment-based ink and PageWide technology, which covers the entire width of the page with more than 40,000 jets that spray minute droplets of ink onto the page, rather than moving the jets back and forth over the page. It results in faster and more efficient printing.

The printer delivers 600 by 600 dot per inch documents, but can optimize them to look as sharp as 2,400 by 1,200 resolution for photos. It has a 320GB hard drive and an 796MHz processor with 1.8GB of its own memory. It can handle up to 53-pound paper and 80-pound photo card stock and has a single large paper tray that not only holds a full ream of sheets, but shows how much is inside. HP sells a $400 cabinet that can hold supplies and paper as well as a second paper tray for $300.

HP_LaserJet_Enterprise_MFP_M630HP offers a variety of drivers for just about any system on campus. There’s software for all recent Windows and Mac clients as well as for Linux computers and a variety of network operating systems.

Like most devices in its class, the X585 has duplex printing built in, which can save a surprising amount of paper in schools. It also has a duplex scanning engine with a 50-page sheet feeder. The X585’s flip up 8-inch view-screen can display what’s being printed and used for making configuration changes. There’s an optional keyboard, but it’s only available on the more expensive X585z model.

Out of the box, the printer can connect via a USB cable or wired Ethernet connection. To add WiFi, you need to get HP’s add-on 802.11b, g and n WiFi module; it costs $70. It has the bonus of including a near-field communications (NFC) sensor for printing after placing an NFC-quipped phone, tablet or notebook onto the device. It’s the closest thing to IT magic that you’ll see in a school. 

But, you don’t need a physical network connection to print with the X585. At any time, you can use a mobile device to wirelessly send print orders to the X585. The HP ePrint app is available for Androids, iPhones and iPads although it only works with images, Acrobat files, Web pages and Office documents.

Its success at school is due in part to the X585’s low operating costs. To start there’s neither a fuser nor drum to wear out and replace. In fact, the only consumable item, other than ink, is a tray to catch the excess ink. It should last for roughly 50,000 pages and costs a reasonable $20.

1wntGyUzvneiy2K9CBYV58-30Plus, the X585’s ink cartridges are positively huge, holding 86.5-, 80.5-, 83.5- or 203.5-milliliters of pigment-based ink for the cyan, magenta, yellow or black cartridges. The cyan, magenta and yellow ones cost $100 each and are capable of printing roughly 6,600 pages while the $115 black one can put out 10,000 pages, according to HP’s optimistic forecast. Over the course of three-months of daily use in the printer’s best print-quality mode, it was able to deliver color pages for 6.2 cents and monochrome ones for an amazing 1.2 cents per page. This makes it one of the least expensive printers to use and you can save some more by using one of the printer’s lower-quality modes.

Happily, the printer’s output lacks the annoying shiny quality of laser prints, but the X585’s documents are just as sharp as that from the best color laser printers. Although the ink dries quickly, images that fill most of the sheet tend to saturate it, causing the surface to pucker and wrinkle.

Because it tops out at about 60-watts – about the power use of the typical light bulb – the printer uses a lot less electricity than even the most efficient laser printer. Although it requires a three-prong plug, for those in older schools with antiquated wiring, the X585 won’t dim the lights when it starts up.

For such a complicated device, the X585 was remarkably easy to set up, but it can take about 40 minutes to get the system configured, installed and ready to print its first page. HP will come and install it for you for $440. Once it’s up and running, it takes 23 seconds to pump out its first page and can deliver 26 pages per minute of everything from spelling tests and parental letters to worksheets and report cards.

I printed nearly 10,000 pages on a variety of material – from the cheapest copier paper to card stock and labels – and the printer only jammed once. It was easier to clear the jam from the paper path than with a laser printer because nothing was hot.

HP X585 supplies pageTo make changes or check on supplies, the printer has an extensive collection of data pages that can be displayed on its screen or remotely through its IP address with a connected Web browser. You can also control or tap into the printer’s configuration with HP’s JetAdmin software. In addition to ink levels and total number of pages printed on the current set of ink modules, the system can spit out a variety of reports on its current status and configuration, who’s printing in color and fax activity.

It’s not perfect but still helpful when you’re running out of ink. That’s because a warning appears on screen about which cartridge is near the end of its life but fails to tell you approximately how many pages remain. 

Because it is meant to fit into a school’s digital document flow scheme, HP has what it calls QuickSets. These are established document flow patterns for anything from scanning the day's homework to inputting invoices that need to be paid.

Security is its true calling and can make the X585 as secure as a computer. There are more than 200 built-in security settings and it is the rare printer with a Trusted Platform module and encrypted hard drive. With everything from report cards to social security numbers being printed, this area is often ignored but necessary today.

One big step forward is the use of pull printing, where the person printing a document needs to enter his or her personal code to get the pages to actually print. It cuts down on orphan and accidentally picked up pages and if nothing is printed, the document is automatically deleted from the X585’s hard drive the next day. On the downside, the printer has neither individual output trays nor a stapling finisher option.

The printer comes with a 1-year warranty, but HP can extend it for $130 a year. It may be expensive, but the X585 printer is worth its weight in ink because it can not only cut down on the costs of classroom and office printing but can make them more secure at the same time.


HP X585 b

HP OfficeJet Enterprise Color MFP X585


+ Low per-page costs

+ Security


+ 8-inch display

+ Inkjet technology

+ Printer apps

+ Duplex printing and scanning


- Price

- Slow start-up

- No finishing options


Making Printing More Secure

M630The next time someone says that printers don’t need to be as secure as computers, ask them if they ever saw a confidential document (like a student’s progress report or even a class list with social security numbers) sitting in a printer’s output tray waiting for who-knows-who to read or take. At that point, they’re likely to get the importance of ensuring that every printer needs to be secure. A case in point is HP’s workgroup-oriented LaserJet Enterprise Flow MFP M630 department-class printer. It can be shared by around 10 or 15 classes and can not only pump out up to 60-pages-per-minute, has a 100-page document feeder and can handle up to about 28,000 pages per month.

The key is that it has 200 security settings intended to keep data and information where it belongs. From requiring pull printing and signed firmware updates to its encrypted hard drive you can easily lock out its USB port. In addition to a built-in Trusted Platform Module (TPM), the M630 has an 8-inch touch-screen and pull-out keyboard that can be used to update settings or enter a password.

The Classroom Document Center

MFC-L9550cdw-leftWith all it does, Brother’s MFC-L9550CDW color laser all-in-one is one of the school-year’s best bargains. At $800, the printer is really a document creation and printing center with the ability to not only securely print, scan and fax locally but can print from and send scans to a variety of online storage systems. Able to print, scan and copy both sides of the sheet, the MFC-L9550CDW has a Near Field Communications reader for authentication and a 4.85-inch touch screen to control the device.  

Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in Tech Tools are strictly those of the author and do not reflect the opinions or endorsement of Scholastic, Inc.