HP OfficeJet Pro 8740 Printer Review
Following years of near day-to-day usage of laser printers, it's admittedly been a while since I've owned an inkjet printer. From memory, the last one I purchased was at the turn of the last century and cost around 50 bucks after rebate (its performance was in line with its price).
So, when the opportunity came up to spend some time with one of HP's top offerings in their inkjet multi-function copier line, I was pretty keen to see how far things have come. While the OfficeJet Pro 8740 might not be endowed with the catchiest name, nor strikingly good looks, it's got it where it counts - with a range an excellent range of features and impressive performance.
Packing a somewhat imposing and chunky design, the OfficeJet Pro probably isn't going to win over many based on its looks. Such is the unit's bulk (indeed, the box barely squeezed into my car) it's immediately clear that the OfficeJet Pro moniker isn't just marketing speak - it's definitely designed for a small office rather than the typical home. Even after jettisoning the removable second paper tray, the unit demands so much real estate that you wouldn't want to put it on your desk even if you could (not to mention the nearly 20kg weight).
But, of course, with that comes a huge range of functionality in line with the expectations for a modern MFC, including the ability to print and scan to and from a USB or network folder, ethernet, USB, Wi-Fi, NFC and mobile app connectability, a 4.3-inch touch display, and even fax functionality for when you need to contact 1996 and warn about 9/11 and Trump.
Following the truly painless setup process, within a few minutes, I was running the HP through its paces. First and foremost, the print quality is uniformly excellent; be it text or images. Text is rendered very well and retains full legibility right down to the smallest font sizes. At just over six pages per minute, it offers reasonable speed, and the auto duplexing is a step above many printers of the same price point.
Sure, prints don't have quite the same degree of pinpoint sharpness that you'll typically find with a laser printer and suffers from running ink when wet, but what you're getting here is about as good as inkjet gets. However, throw in some proper print quality photo paper (and bump up to less efficient printing modes), and you'll soon see the HP is capable of some excellent results with print quality prints that'll rival (and perhaps exceed) what you'll get from thermal prints from your local department store.
Scanning documents via the 50-page automatic document feeder offers quick and dependable results, especially with single pass scanning that employs both a top and bottom imager to scan both sides of simultaneously. Utilizing the touchscreen also offers some shortcuts to quickly perform the basics without touching a computer. However, I was particularly keen to see what results I could get from the flatbed, so armed with a stack of old family photos I got to work.
Using the automatically installed HP software, I was initially disappointed in both the unit's quality and resolution, which was confusingly lower than what was advertised on the box. However, a quick Google search made me aware of the 'HP Scan Extended' software which is available on the company's site. While not advertised anywhere in the supplied documentation (at least, as far as I could see) the Scan Extended software is required to unlock the unit's full potential, which includes scanning modes of up to 1200 dpi.
After maxing out the available settings, I was soon scanning four 6x4 photos at a time (one lodged in each corner), with the software consistently cropping and saving each file to separate lossless PNG image files. Scanning at 1200 dpi is noticeably slower and unsurprisingly unkind to any existing print imperfections such as dust, dirt or tears, utilizing that resolution ensured I could extract just about all the detail that could be pulled from them. With 24-bit RGB, the color and clarity in the scans were very pleasing, but also accurate to the original print. While I'd be quite keen in the future to compare the scans to one of HP's high-end stand-alone scanners, to say that I'm satisfied with the results here would be an understatement - I'm deeply impressed.
But over the solid construction and dependable performance, what truly sets the OfficeJet Pro 8740 above many other similar marketed products is in the strength of its network and wireless connections. Further to its basic networking facilities, the unit offers Near Field Communication facilities to directly connect to Android devices without being connect to your network, Wireless Direct (HP's rebadged Wi-Fi direct) and an excellent built-in web server which allows you to tailor the unit's settings (including the front LCD panel options) to suit your needs. Of course, these are probably not going to set your world on fire, but it's the little touches that matter just as much as the big - and they make for one cohesive whole.
While it might not have the slickest design ever found in an MFC, but the OfficeJet Pro 8740 has it where it counts, with fast, quality printing, good basic document scanning, and excellent scanning via the HP Scan Extended from the scan bed. Of course, not all of the features will be relevant for everyone, but this is an excellent piece of equipment that should offer many years of performance for a typical small office, or small business environment.
|Overall TweakTown Rating||88%|
The Bottom Line: HP's latest MFC does a lot, but it's not just the quantity, but the quality of features that impresses. The OfficeJet Pro 8740 is a well rounded product that serves as an excellent choice for small to medium sized offices.
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