HP aims to speed business printing with Edgeline

HP introduced two new departmental inkjet printers it hopes will be fast enough to take the place of laser printers

Hewlett-Packard (HP) has built its Edgeline print head into two new departmental printers designed for print volumes up to 50,000 pages a month. The printers offer the speed of laser printing with the color quality and reliability of ink.

The CM8050 and CM8060 color multifunction printer-copier-scanners, announced Wednesday, print in black at speeds up to 50 or 60 pages per minute, respectively, and in color at 40 or 50 pages per minute. The new print heads deliver pigment-based ink and a bonding agent across the full width of an A4 page in one go, allowing the printers to run faster than inkjet printers that must scan back and forth across the paper. The heads have a life of around 2 million pages, allowing them to run for three years under a typical service contract, the company said.

HP will charge from US$23,530 for the CM8060 and US$18,930 for the CM8050 in the U.S., depending on options ordered, and similar pricing in Europe.

HP introduced the Edgeline head last October in a system for photo kiosks that printed using dye-based inks on four-inch-wide paper. The CM8050 and CM8060 contain six such heads arranged in pairs to span the width of an A4 page. The first pair delivers the bonding agent, the second the yellow and black ink, and the last cyan and magenta. The paper is carried, up to three pages at a time, on a drum where it is held by a vacuum as it is whisked under the print heads, which remain stationary.

The printers also sport HP's EasySelect Control Panel, a common user interface it introduced to its multifunction business printer line six months ago. HP's aim is that users will be able to operate future business printers intuitively, wherever they find them in the enterprise, through a common interface.

In another step toward that goal, it will update an older printer, the Color LaserJet 4730, with the EasySelect interface. The updated model, otherwise largely unchanged, is the CM4730, and will go on sale in May, starting at US$5,362 excluding tax.

The new inkjet printers will be available starting this week, said Rolf Gerstner, HP's manager of business and marketing strategy for commercial imaging and printing solutions in Europe, the Middle East and Africa.

Alongside the printers, HP also presented a new version of its WebJetadmin networked printer administration software. WJA 10.0, now compatible with Windows Vista, will be available for free download from April 30. The new version includes step-by-step help for common tasks, and tools for restricting access to color printing functions per application or per user.

(With additional reporting from Ben Ames in Boston.)