HP's Single-Function PageWide Pro 552dw Printer

Fast, high-print quality, and inexpensive to use

HP PageWide Pro 552dw Color Printer
HP's fast and inexpensive to use high-volume printer. Photo courtesy of HP

Pros:

  • Fast, up to 50 pages per minute
  • Excellent print quality
  • Exceptionally low cost per page
  • High-volume, and highly expandable
  • Strong mobile and cloud connectivity
  • Exceptionally high-yield ink cartridges

Cons:

  • Purchase price high
  • Can’t print borderless pages and photos
  • Highest-yield ink tanks aren’t the best deal

Bottom line: Fast, good print quality, and inexpensive to use (on a per-page basis), when high-volume is what you need, this second-generation, single-function PageWide printer steps up.

Buy HP’s PageWide Pro 552dw Printer from Amazon

Introduction

As demonstrated in this article about HP’s recent product rollout and the newly created PageWide printer product family, as well as my review of the PageWide Pro MFP 557dw Printer a few months ago, without question, the Palo Alto, California electronics giant’s PageWide printers are among the most efficient high-volume printers available today—be they inkjet or laser/laser-class LED-based machines.

The same is true of today’s review unit, the $699.99-MSRP PageWide Pro 552dw Printer, which replaces one of the first PageWide machines available, the Officejet Pro X551dw Color Printer, a high-volume, single function model. As you’ll see as you read on, there’s a lot to like about this printer. First, though, you may be wondering why I keep saying PageWide, PageWide… Well, if you’re not familiar with it, PageWide is a fixed inkjet nozzle array technology with many features in common with high-volume laser printers.

Meanwhile, you can learn more about PageWide, as well as Epson’s fairly recent PrecisionCore printhead technology, in this alternative printhead technologies article.

Design and Features

As I’ve stated before, HP printers tend to be more stylish than many of their counterparts, and that’s true here. While most everything you print will probably come from a PC or some other computing device, the 552dw comes with a huge 4.3-inch touch screen for navigating features, printing from the cloud, making security settings, as well as a few PC-free, or walk-up options.

You can also manage the printer via a built-in HTTP (Web) server, which provides a wealth of security and management features, including options such as setting which users can print color. Printing color can be expensive, hence…

At 20.9 inches across, by 16 inches from front to back, by 16.5 inches high, and weighing a stout 37 pounds, the 552dw is bigger and heavier than several laser machines with similar capabilities. While it is well-built and quiet enough, it’s too big to sit on your (or anybody else’s) desktop; besides, HP rates it for workgroups with 5 to 15 users. It needs a spot that’s centrally located to its users.

To that end, you can connect it to your network via Wi-Fi or Ethernet, or you can connect it to a single PC with a USB cable. Be mindful, though, that that last option, a USB printer cable, since you’re not connected directly to the Internet, will preclude the printer from accessing network- and Internet-related features, including printing from cloud sites and other mobile options.

Also included are two peer-to-peer protocols for printing from Android handheld devices: Wireless Direct, HP’s Wi-Fi Direct equivalent, and Near-Field Communication, or NFC. And, of course, Apple’s AirPrint and much of the standard mobile options are supported, and you can print from USB thumb drives; the port for that is located beneath the control panel.

Finally, a reminder that the heart of this printer, the fixed PageWide printhead (as opposed to traditional printheads that move back and forth across the page, printing small bands, one at a time). The fixed, or stationary,​ printhead is only one way in which this printer acts like a laser device. Instead of spitting out band after band, like laser printers, PageWide machines “image” the entire page in memory before committing it to paper, printing the page in one swift pass beneath the printhead.

Inkjet printers have many advantages over laser machines. Since inkjets haven’t any toner to heat and melt, they require significantly less energy.

Colors, especially on premium glossy inkjet paper, are brighter and more detailed. In addition, inkjet machines typically print better photos, too, and generally this one does also—with, as discussed in the next section, one caveat.

Performance, Print Quality, Paper Handling

There are faster printers out there; there are, in fact, faster PageWide Pro models out there, including the PageWide Pro 577dw mentioned earlier, which is rated at 70 pages per minute, or ppm, or 20ppm faster than this single-function model. As far as I can tell by looking over the product line, HP doesn’t offer a 70-ppm single-function version.

Even so, this is one quick inkjet, but unless you’re printing simple, unformatted text pages devoid of graphics and photos, you won’t get 50ppm or close with this or any printer rated as such. When you load them up with formatting, images, and business graphics (the things that make them attractive and more compelling), and that page-per-minute count nosedives.

Nearly every document type I printed came in at around 10ppm, with a fluctuation of about 0.5ppm on either side. In other words, print speeds landed between about 9.5ppm and 10.5ppm, both of which are excellent scores for this class of printer.

As for print quality, that’s about as good as it gets. Text is sharp, even at smaller sizes. Business graphics appear sharp and accurately colored, as do photos. The one drawback with this inkjet over most others is that this one can’t print borderless pages, which is critical to photograph finishing and some types of document finishing.

This is one shortcoming the fixed PageWide printhead has in common with laser printers—every page, no matter what size or type, must be printed with about an eighth-inch margin around it. A margin with no content. In other words, the 552dw can’t print all the way to the very edge of the paper, as most other inkjets can.

Out-of-the-box, paper input consists of two sources, a 500-sheet main cassette and a 50-sheet multipurpose, or override, tray on the left side of the chassis, for a total of 550 sheets from two sources. If that’s not enough, the expansion options for this printer are noteworthy. You can add two additional 500-sheet drawers (1,550 sheets altogether), as well as a utility drawer (to hold ink, paper, and other supplies) and a stand with wheels for moving it all around. The components run about $199 each on HP’s site, or you can buy the entire set—two drawers, the utility drawer, and rolling stand for $799.

Cost Per Page

As pointed out here several times, any self-respecting high-volume printer provides a low cost per page, or CPP. It really could mean the difference of hundreds, even thousands of dollars over the life of the printer. If I’ve said it once, I’ve said, “how much the printer costs to use is much more important economically than how much it costs to buy,” I've said it thousands of times.

HP offers three different sets of four (cyan, magenta, yellow, and black, or CMYK, “process” colors), ink cartridges for this printer: standard-yield, high-yield, and extra-high-yield.

You’d think that the extra-high-yield tanks would perform the best economically, wouldn't you? Well, not in this case. Here, you actually pay more per page with the larger, more-expensive tanks. Let’s start with the standard-yield tanks first, though.

The standard-yield black cartridge sells at hp.com for $69.99 and it’s good for, according to HP, about 3,500 black-and-white pages. The three color tanks sell for $79.99 each and they, combined with the black ink tank, hold about 2,800 color pages.

Using these numbers, the monochrome CPP comes out to about 2 cents and the color CPP is 10.7 cents.

Not great, but passable for standard-yield tanks. If you plan to push this printer to its limits, though, (it has an 80,000-sheet monthly duty cycle, which is the number of pages HP says you can safely push through it each month), those numbers will cost you way more than if you opt for the high-yield tanks. The black high-yield cartridge sells for $79.99 and it’s rated at 10,000 pages, while the color cartridges cost $135.99 each and they’re rated for 7,000 pages between them and the black tank.

Using these numbers, the 552dw will deliver a black-and-white CPP of 0.008, or eight-tenths of a cent, and color pages run about 6.5 cents. These are great CPPs, some of the best in the business.

Which brings us to the extra-high tanks. To replace them all it would cost you about $940 (more than $200 beyond the cost of this printer), and they deliver CPPs of 1.3 cents for monochrome pages, and 6.7 cents for color.

Keep in mind that for every 30,000 pages you print at 0.5 cent more per page, or 1.3 cents versus 0.008, it will cost you an additional $150. Printing 30K pages every month, then, will cost you $1,800 each year… You get the picture—that’s more than enough to buy this printer several times.

The End

Bottom line on this printer is, if you need a high-volume workhorse, this could be very well be it.

Buy HP’s PageWide Pro 552dw Printer from Amazon

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