Jan 24 2018

Review: HP PageWide Enterprise Color 556dn Revolutionizes Printing

HP’s speedy new printer switches easily between specialized graphics and general-purpose jobs.

It’s not easy to find a printer that can meet the myriad needs of a higher education environment. It must be speedy, because it will likely support multiple users at the same time. It should be able to reproduce a variety of detailed, accurate images: engineering specs one minute and a colorful art project the next. And, because it’s generally available for public use, it must be able to withstand abuse.

HP has released its new PageWide Enterprise Color 556dn printer into this complex environment. Based on testing, it’s ready to become a star pupil.

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Inkjet Detail Makes the Grade

Key to the inkjet’s many advantages is a revolutionary print head. At 210 millimeters wide, it’s the size of a standard sheet of paper. During printing, paper slides through the stationary print head so that colored ink drops into place on the page. The result is an extremely fast process: up to 50 pages per minute.

In testing, printed photographs came out looking just like the real thing. The printer accurately reproduced even detailed media, such as molecular diagrams and handwritten equations.

Compared with other printers, the PageWide was also quiet. When in use, only the paper-handling machinery is audible. The printer also ran incredibly cool, which makes sense given its lack of any heat-generating components.

Embedded Security Makes Safety a No-Brainer

Printers, especially those sitting in an accessible environment, are not immune to cyberthreats. Thankfully, HP thought ahead and embedded plenty of security. The PageWide comes standard with HP Sure Start, which automatically checks for the presence of malware on boot-up. Ongoing intrusion detection stops malware from using the printer as a jumping-off point to the rest of the network or hiding in memory to spy on users.

Even the communications within the printer are protected by 256-bit encryption to prevent snooping. And while the lack of a wireless printing option may initially seem like a detriment, it makes it easier to ensure the system is accessible only to authorized users on the campus network, and it prevents the printer from broadcasting its ID to hackers.

Blending performance, reliability and security, the HP PageWide Enterprise Color 556dn printer makes the grade.

High-Speed Printing Equals High-Volume Performance

Most higher education environments are going to serve multiple students, particularly if a printer is placed in a computer lab or another communal area. Is the PageWide up to the challenge of completing a variety of print jobs quickly and easily?

The printer is quick to start, sending out a first page in under eight seconds on average, in either color or black and white. With the wide print head, it jumps into jobs more quickly than printers that rely on older technology or smaller heads that must roam back and forth to deposit ink.

A series of 10-page term papers served as the first test. The jobs were all sent simultaneously, and the printer began to work through them without delay. Other than a brief pause between jobs, there was no spooling and no delay. It achieved an average speed of 48.5 pages per minute for the all-text documents throughout the test.

Next up was a series of graphics-heavy color documents, which were sent to the printer at the same time as the text documents. There was no noticeable difference in performance, with the average number of pages printed per minute hovering at 48, close to the black-and-white print times.

When the test printing was complete, no streaking, smearing, artifact lines or other blemishes could be detected on any of the pages. The printer was also cool to the touch. A laser printer, by comparison, would have certainly been blazing hot by that point.

Printing in higher education is all about speed and accuracy, and the HP PageWide easily hits that mark. It could find a good home serving students and staff in any campus environment.

HP PageWide Enterprise Color 556dn

Speed: Up to 50 pages per minute

Volume: Up to 7,500 pages per month

Processor: 1.2GHz

Capacity: 500-sheet input tray, 50-sheet multipurpose tray

Dimensions: 20.8x18.2x17.9 inches

Weight: 49 pounds

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