HP LaserJet Enterprise 700 Printer M712dn review

Pros

  • Prints at A3 size
  • Low running costs
  • Good paper capacity

Cons

  • Slightly sub-par overall output quality
  • Sub-par text quality
  • High sticker price

Relatively few business printers can print at up to A3 size, and the HP LaserJet Enterprise 700 Printer M712dn is a welcome addition to that club, boasting very good paper handling, low running costs, and good speed. Although its output quality could be better, the M712dn is a good choice for high volume black-and-white printing.

Unlike most of the A3 printers we've tested in the past few years, the M712dn is a monochrome printer. It measures 568 x 596 x 392mm (WxDxH), and weighs 38.5kg, so it’s too big to share a desk with, and you'll want at least two people to help move it into place.

The M712dn has a 600-sheet standard paper capacity, between two 250-sheet input trays and a 100-sheet multipurpose feeder. (One of the two 250-sheet trays, plus the feeder, can handle A3 paper.) An abundance of feeders, extra trays, and floor-standing cabinets are available as accessories. This printer has an automatic duplexer for printing on both sides of a sheet of paper. It has a maximum monthly duty cycle of 100,000 pages, making it suitable for reasonably heavy duty printing.

The M712dn is ePrint enabled – HP assigns an email address to the printer (which you can later customise), you can send documents to that address, and the printer will automatically print them out (as long as it's connected to the Internet, of course).

The M712dn is the middle model of three related printers. The M712n is the simplex version, lacking the M712dn's auto-duplexer (and its Energy Star cred). The M712xh adds a secure hard disk and a 500-sheet paper tray in addition to all the M712dn's features.

The M712dn offers USB and Ethernet (including Gigabit Ethernet) connectivity. I tested it over the Ethernet connection with a PC running Windows Vista. As for drivers, this printer has PCL plus HP's PostScript emulation, though only the PCL driver installs by default.

I timed the M712dn on the latest version of our business applications suite (using QualityLogic's hardware and software for timing), at 9.9 effective pages per minute (ppm), which is decent for its rated speed of 40 pages per minute – that should be about the speed you would get if you were to print text only (our test suite combines text pages, graphics pages, and pages with mixed content.) It's a respectable speed, though many mono lasers are faster – the Dell B5460dn, for example, zipped through our tests at 18.7 ppm.

Output quality

Overall output quality for the M712dn was slightly below par for a mono laser, with sub-par text, average graphics, and typical photo quality. With text there was a tendency for some letter pairs to be run together at larger sizes than usual, but even sub-par laser text is fine for typical business use. Just make a point of avoiding smaller font sizes.

In a couple of illustrations, the printer had trouble rendering distinctions between slightly different shades. Though the printer is otherwise fine for printing basic PowerPoint presentations or charts in a report, at least for in-house use, you'd have to be careful that different sections in a pie or bar chart, for instance, are distinguishable from each other.

Photo quality is suitable for printing out recognisable images from web pages, and perhaps for photos in client newsletters, depending on how picky you and the client are. A couple of prints showed mild banding (a pattern of faint striations), most showed dithering (graininess), and there was some loss of detail in both bright and dark areas.

Running costs for the M712 are a low 1.3 cents (0.85 pence) per page, beating out the Dell 7130cdn's cost per monochrome page of 1.7 cents (1.1 pence) and the Xerox 7100/N's 2.2 cents (1.4 pence).

Verdict

As a monochrome laser, the M712dn offers good paper handling, including the ability to print at A3 size, low running costs, and decent speed. Its output quality is good enough for typical in-house business use.

The Best Buy award winning Xerox Phaser 7100/N has a smaller paper capacity, higher running costs, and lacks an auto-duplexer, but it’s considerably cheaper in terms of the initial outlay (by over £500), its output quality is better than the M712dn's, and it can print not just monochrome but colour A3 pages.

If your business isn't too picky about output quality, doesn't require colour, and you need to print in high volume, the HP LaserJet Enterprise 700 Printer M712dn could well be your preferred A3 workhorse printer. It has a relatively high monthly duty cycle, very low running costs (allowing you to recoup your relatively large initial investment over time), and good paper capacity.

Specifications

Manufacturer and Model

HP LaserJet Enterprise 700 Printer M712dn

Printer Category

Laser

Direct Printing from Cameras

No

Maximum Standard Paper Size

A3

Rated Speed at Default Settings (Mono)

40 ppm

Type

Printer Only

Colour or Monochrome

Monochrome

Print Duplexing

Automatic

Connection Type

USB, Ethernet