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8/96 Reviews HW: HP DeskJet 855Cse

Listing of August 1996 Reviews

Jet Lands Quality Black, Color Printing

By James E. Powell

Hewlett-Packard's steady string of successes has made the name "HP" almost synonymous with PC printing. So when a new HP printer debuts, it warrants a long look. HP's new DeskJet 855Cse is an enhancement of the top-of-the-line DeskJet 855C printer, which was introduced last summer.

The DeskJet 855Cse is excellent for both black (at 600x600-dot-per-inch) and color (600x300dpi) printing. It has 16.7 million built-in colors, uses HP's ColorSmart technology and can print quickly with a rating of up to 7 pages per minute.

Setting up the printer is easy, thanks to Windows 95 and HP's good setup program, which includes version 8.0 print drivers. The 855Cse's driver can be shared across a peer-to-peer Win95 network. With the ColorSmart software, you can accept the program's defaults or choose to manually control halftone settings, intensity and color. The color control option lets you adjust colors so that your monitor's colors match the printer's output. You can also select gray-scale printing and pick one of the three print quality/print speed options. "best" quality is rated at 4ppm for black text and 1ppm for mixed text and graphics in color. "normal" offers 6ppm for black and 1.5ppm for color, and "EconoFast" reduces output quality enough to yield print speeds of 7ppm for black and 3ppm for color.

In my tests, the DeskJet 855Cse didn't quite achieve its rated speeds. Using Microsoft Word 7.0, printing an 18-page, text-only document took exactly five minutes. The first page of the document began to print almost immediately, and when the job finished spooling, printing continued at a brisk pace, averaging 3.6ppm.

As with any printer, print speed will vary with the type of document you're printing. For example, when I adjusted the margins on the test document, the rate increased slightly to about 3.75ppm. When graphics were added to pages, the 855Cse's printing was discernibly slower.

There's no question about print quality, however. Black text is crisp and clean, and color graphics are equally sharp. Although you don't need special paper, you'll be impressed with the results using HP's sample package of glossy paper.

The printer's front panel has a power button and a paper eject button with a light that flashes if anything goes awry. You can load the front-access paper tray with up to 150 sheets; printed pages are also stacked in a tray at the front of the unit. While the print engine's operation is relatively quiet, the paper guide mechanism creates a minor racket. It's loud enough to be annoying at times.

The 855Cse can handle letter- and legal-sized paper, as well as Executive, A4 and A5 sizes. It will also accept number 10 envelopes, 4- by 6-inch index cards, transparencies, glossy paper and labels. I printed on several different Avery label formats and got excellent results. You can stack up to 15 envelopes in the input tray, but the plastic envelope guide is flimsy and should be handled with care.

The 855Cse's documentation is clear and concise, and includes plenty of troubleshooting tips. The software's online help is extensive. The package includes Microsoft Publisher 95 (on CD-ROM).

The printer weighs only 14.3 pounds. It has 1MB of RAM and a rated life of 60,000 pages, with an estimated 20,000 hours mean time between failures.

Info File
HP DeskJet 855Cse
Pros: Print quality
Cons: Noise; fragile special-media guide
Platforms: Windows 95, 3.1x
Hewlett-Packard Co.
800-752-0900, 408-246-4300
WinMag Box Score: 4.0
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