Wide-Format Printers/Plotters

HP Designjet T2300 eMFP

27 Jul, 2011 By: R.K. McSwain

First Look Review: Web-connected wide-format device produces top-quality prints, scans, and copies with ease.

Editor's Note: This article was originally published in the Summer 2011 issue of Cadalyst magazine.

The new HP Designjet T2300 eMFP wide-format multifunction printer offers several attractive features, including color printing as wide as 44", color scanning and copying as wide as 36", and a wealth of new tools that make printing very easy. I've been using HP wide-format printers for more than 15 years and have come to expect quality — and this unit does not disappoint. All prints, copies, and scans were top-notch, and the T2300 is now one of several models to offer built-in access to the free HP ePrint & Share web service, which lets you scan to and print from your own secure web space, optionally sharing these documents as desired.

Printing Process

You have multiple options for printing to the HP Designjet T2300 eMFP.

Integrated USB port. Simply insert a USB flash drive, and a built-in color touch screen on the front of the printer lets you browse for a file to print, previewing the files on screen as you go. Using the USB interface, I printed a 300-dpi JPG image (5968 x 4098 pixels, 4.25 MB) in 1 minute, 20 seconds. A 100-dpi JPG image (1920 x 1280, 272 KB), scaled up to fit 36" paper, printed in just under two minutes. That includes processing and printing in the Default Normal print quality setting. The HP Designjet T2300 eMFP is rated at 549 ft2 (51 m2) per hour in draft mode, and the print times I observed confirmed this rating.

HP ePrint & Share.
Another feature that makes the HP Designjet T2300 eMFP easy to use is the new, free HP ePrint & Share application, which performs two functions for this printer (and others equipped with the technology). First, this locally installed application lets you print to any HP Designjet printer without installing any printer drivers; second, it provides an interface to share and store documents to your own secure, shared web space. You can print and upload local documents to your web space at the same time.

The application also includes plug-ins for AutoCAD and Microsoft Office that enable printing from these applications directly to HP ePrint & Share. Through the web interface, you can view, organize, and share files uploaded from the local application, files scanned using the HP Designjet T2300 eMFP, and files shared to you by others. The application comes with 5 GB of free storage; more is available upon request.

HP ePrint & Share is available as a download at no additional cost for all HP Designjet customers. On the T2300 eMFP, you can access the application from the touch screen.

I encountered a few shortcomings in this new software. For example, it did not correctly perform some custom-printing features — such as scaling a document to half size and fitting a document to a certain size sheet.

Printer driver. The local printer driver installed automatically via Windows 7. All you have to do is supply the IP address of the printer; no downloads are required. Using AutoCAD 2012, I printed the sample file named VISUALIZATION_-_CONDOMINIUM_WITH_SKYLIGHT0.DWG (a fully rendered, 1.4-MB drawing) to a D-size sheet in 2 minutes, 20 seconds, including processing time. A line drawing (AutoCAD sample PB-EX41. DWG, 1.5 MB) printed on a D-size sheet in 1 minute, 15 seconds. As expected, quality was excellent on both.

As easy as it was to install the local printer driver, it's not even necessary. When you install the HP ePrint & Share application, a system printer is created named HP Designjet Go Web. When you print a file to this printer, your print job is sent to the HP ePrint & Share application, where you can make needed adjustments, then print and share with others.

Scanner Included

Scanning to file has become almost a necessity these days for archiving documents, versioning signed documents, and digitally transferring information. The HP Designjet T2300 eMFP can scan in color and black-and-white, in a variety of formats and quality ranges. The scanner is mounted on top of the unit and accepts documents face-up. The active color mode determines the speed at which documents are fed, and the instructions for scanning are easy to follow on the touch screen. The T2300 lets you scan to a network folder, directly to a USBconnected device, or to your HP ePrint & Share account. Scanning to a network location or USB-connected device are nearly identical processes. To scan to your ePrint & Share account, you log on and specify file-sharing recipients.

The HP Designjet T2300 eMFP delivers a wealth of features, including web connectivity, for $8,450.

I started with a D-size line drawing and scanned to a monochrome TIFF file. Scan times ranged from 20 seconds in 200-dpi mode to 2 minutes, 40 seconds in 600-dpi mode. Quality was excellent, increasing along with the dpi setting as expected. I then scanned a D-size color map to a color PDF, and scan times ranged from 40 seconds in 200-dpi mode to 5 minutes, 40 seconds in 600-dpi mode. You must be careful when scanning in color at high resolutions because file sizes grow almost exponentially. The 600-dpi color PDF file was more than 53 MB in size. That's not a problem if you have plenty of drive space, but is certainly an issue if you plan to send the file via email. Of course, if you use ePrint & Share, you can send large scanned files to anyone without ever leaving the front panel of the T2300. In reality, the 200-dpi color PDF file, which was just a bit larger than 7 MB, was very close in quality to the 600-dpi, 53 MB version.

Make More Copies

Copying on the HP Designjet T2300 eMFP is a combination of scanning and printing. The instructions on the touch screen are similar to those for scanning, and just as easy to follow. I found that when making large-format copies, the Normal copy quality setting produces results that are more than acceptable, for both color and black-and-white jobs. A D-size color copy in Normal mode took 2 minutes, 20 seconds. A D-size black-and-white line drawing took 1 minute, 15 seconds, and both produced excellent results. If speed is more important than a perfect copy, you can switch to Fast mode.

Copying and scanning can be done while the unit is printing, and performing tasks simultaneously didn't slow down the processes during my tests. The scan jobs were sent to their destination, and the copy jobs were added to the queue.

All my testing was done using HP media including vellum, translucent bond, 20-lb bond, and 4-mil Mylar. I allowed for drying time when printing on Mylar, but the color prints on bond and the line drawings on vellum and translucent bond were ready to handle as soon as they finished printing.

Embedded Web Server

HP Designjet printers come with an embedded web server that lets you view, edit, and control the printer from any computer on the network. Simply enter the IP address of the printer in your web browser and the multifunction interface appears. You can view the job queue, view stored jobs, and submit a new job. You can check the status of your supplies and — perhaps the most important feature — see the cost of each and every print job. All you have to do is enter the cost of the ink and media one time, and the web interface does the rest. Scan jobs report the area scanned, and you can even export all this information to Microsoft Excel. You also can control printer functionality from the web interface, including all printer settings, such as nesting; disabling the USB interface on the printer; and various levels of locking down the front panel touch-screen interface.

Setup Details

The HP Designjet T2300 eMFP uses HP thermal inkjet technology and has three print heads fed by six ink cartridges. The unit ships with everything you need except media. An HP representative unpacked the unit and had it up and running in less than two hours. The process isn't complicated and should take a novice only a bit longer.

At 69.7" x 39.8" x 44.3" (wxdxh) and nearly 300 lb, this multifunction device is quite large, so you'll need to be sure your office can accommodate it as well as provide room to change the media rolls, which load from the rear. The unit is on wheels, so you can roll it out when needed. Following the instructions on the touch screen, I was able to change a roll of media in less than three minutes. Because the touch screen is on the front of the unit and media loads from the rear, a little back-and-forth is necessary until you memorize this process.

Retail price for the HP Designjet T2300 eMFP is $8,450, and the HP Designjet T2300 PostScript eMFP is $9,450. A one-year limited warranty is included, as is a certificate that you can redeem for a copy of AutoCAD Raster Design ($1,995 value).

I could find no significant downsides to this machine. Although the local HP ePrint & Share application does not yet fully support custom printing, this is only a minor blemish on an otherwise great multifunction printer. Highly Recommended.


About the Author: R.K. McSwain

R.K. McSwain

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