The HP OfficeJet Pro 7720 looks smart and can print on almost anything from an envelope to A3. It also costs less than a set of replacement ink cartridges, but inconsistent print quality and unreliability make this a false economy
- Responsive colour touchscreen interface
- A3 print capability
- Very low price
- Quite fast at printing and scanning
- Noisy and erratic performance
- No Instant Ink support
- No front USB port
- Poor build quality
Given the low price point and its desk-friendly design, this multifunction printer’s ability to turn out A3-sized prints comes as a pleasant surprise. It’s certainly a reason to choose the HP OfficeJet Pro 7720 over the myriad A4 inkjet all-in-ones out there, especially as it includes all of the key features we have come to expect.
Being a four-in-one, it can print, copy, scan and fax, but it also offers wireless printing via your Wi-Fi network, or by Wi-fi Direct and boasts a 35-page automatic document feed (ADF) and 250-page paper tray. HP’s companion app makes operation from a mobile device easy and you can print onto almost any type of paper from envelopes, to glossy photo paper and tabloid pages. It can also print on both sides of the page, although it can’t do this with A3 paper, sadly.
The most interesting specification though, is the price. At $99 (£105, AU$137), HP’s online store charges less for the printer than it does for a set of replacement ink, which is $139.92 (£107) for XL cartridges. The HP OfficeJet Pro 7720 costs half the price of the similarly specified Brother MFC-J5330DW and even less than the Epson WorkForce WF-7210DTW, which is a print only device.
On paper, at least, it looks like an unbeatable deal, but we decided to find out for ourselves if any corners had been cut.
The HP OfficeJet Pro 7720 is rather larger than your average A4 MPF, but it hides its bulk behind panels of inoffensive off white and patterned grey plastic. This is a machine aimed at the home office where looks are a consideration and HP’s designers have done well to give it a degree of symmetry and style.
However, it is considerably wider than the Brother MFC-J5330DW, which also takes A3 paper, even though it is a kilo and half lighter, and it grows considerably when you extend the drawer in order to load A3 paper. It’s difficult to see why it even needs to be so wide when the paper is loaded from the front, narrow-side first. In other words, this printer takes up a whole desk, whereas the more sensibly designed Brother will share it with a PC.
Lift the hinged lid and the US Letter-sized scanner bed looks rather small and you can’t help wondering why HP didn’t go the whole hog and make it A3-sized. And when you open the flap below, the empty space where the inkjets manoeuvre and the cartridges are loaded, looks larger than it needs to be.
Below this is the only paper tray, which can take hold 250 sheets of paper, or 50 cards, or 30 envelopes. Given the overall bulk, it’s a pity there isn’t room for a second paper tray, or at least, a higher capacity.
In addition to Wi-Fi connectivity, there are ports at the rear for an Ethernet cable and a USB cable, but frustratingly, there are no ports at the front at all. Many photo printers offer an SD card slot, or at least somewhere to stick a USB flash drive.
There is at least a colour touchscreen mounted on a tilting panel at the front that gives you quite rapid and responsive control of the printer. It is rather small though at less than 3-inches and typing your password into its tiny keyboard is a fiddly business.
In addition to printing, scanning, copying and faxing, the HP OfficeJet Pro 7720 has few features. At this price, its no surprise that there’s no NFC connectivity, or an SD card slot, or duplex scanning. Some will no doubt find the lack of a front USB port frustrating and by today’s standards, the touchscreen interface is small.
Crucially, the HP OfficeJet Pro 7720 is able to print on both sides of the page, albeit with A4-sized paper only. It can also print onto envelopes, cards, photo paper etc and printing onto A3 sheets is no mean feat. There’s also a good app by HP that makes it easy to print and scan from your mobile device.
In terms of specifications, the HP OfficeJet Pro 7720 is impressive for the money. It prints and scans at a respectable 1,200 x 1,200 DPI and the quoted print speed is faster than most at 22ppm.
Ease of setup
The touchscreen display may be less than three inches in size, but it is quite responsive, which makes setting up the HP OfficeJet Pro 7720 a painless process. It’s a case of following the instructions and pushing the cartridges into place when prompted. The only fiddly bit is typing in the Wi-Fi password using the tiny onscreen keyboard.
In use, the HP OfficeJet Pro 7720 printed quickly and in many cases very well, but it also proved somewhat frustrating to use and produced very mixed results.
Mono text documents are pushed out promptly, and noisily, and in most cases the type is dark and crisp. However, the amount of black ink applied is inconsistent, especially when printing after a long break when the first page appears noticeably lighter than the next.
Mixed colour documents and photos look more impressive, especially when printing onto glossy A3 photo paper. Set all the parameters to optimum quality and the colour in photos appear vibrant and even-handed, without being lurid. Detail is adequate too, but contrast is more disappointing. Dark areas of a photo tend to look less well defined than other inkjet printers can manage.
Our main issue, however, was with reliability, which is perhaps the most important point for the small business. Our sample repeatedly called for two of the ink cartridges to be reloaded at random intervals throughout the test. It’s clearly a minor glitch, but the same machine also had problems pulling A3 paper from the paper tray. We had to push the paper through with our fingers until the rollers could get a grip and pull it into the printer. Again, this could be a one-in-a-million glitch, but taken together, it smacks of poor build quality.
With HP Instant Ink, replacement cartridges are sent to your door before you run out, but HP doesn’t offer the service with this model, so you’ll need to buy new cartridges when the bundled setup cartridges run out. They should give you 625 colour pages, or 1,000 mono.
To keep your print costs down, it makes sense to choose the high-yield XL cartridges, giving you a per page cost of around $.03 (2p) for mono and $.09 (7p) for colour, which is OK, but not great. A set of replacement XL cartridges for HP will cost $139.92 (£107), which as you might have noticed, is more than the cost of the printer itself. Welcome to the old razor and blades business model.
The HP OfficeJet Pro 7720 looks rather smart, dressed in its sculpted and patterned plastic panels, and with the capacity to print onto A3 paper it seems a steal at the price. HP is obviously a leading brand in the field, so after sales attention is not an issue.
The companion app and a responsive touchscreen also make it pleasant to use, but we still couldn’t really recommend it for business use. In terms of constancy and reliability, which are critical in a busy office, the HP OfficeJet Pro 7720 performed poorly. It might be cheap, but if a product wastes office hours, then it’s not a good investment.