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HP Designjet Z5200 Postscript Printer Review

by The Review CrewJuly 18, 2011

HP has unleashed upon the world a new, cheap way to provide a professional copy shop print job without the dizzying level of technical prowess involved with other units; enter the HP Designjet Z5200 PostScript. A printer that is capable of competing with the local Kinko’s, a printer that is entirely intuitive with a profound ease of use is one thing. But to price the unit retail from http://www.hp.com at $5,495 is to launch an attack against the printing industry. In 2011, where value and quality of product are held high above all other standards, HP is trying their absolute hardest to appeal to the weary consumer’s sensibilities. It looks like we’re taking the bait.

First off, this is not a printer you will be using to run off quick copies of your C.V. or to zip off a quick recipe from Mario Batali. The unit is physically expansive and fairly handsome. At 69.7 x 27.2 x 41.2 inches, weighing 189 lbs. the Z5200 is going to require a lot of desk space. Actually, that’s a joke; the Z5200 comes with its own rolling stand which is a tremendous convenience when dealing with a printer of this magnitude. The unit is rear loading, which may seem in theory to be more of an issue than in actuality. If you lock one side of the rolling stand, the unit can operate on a pivot perfectly. This means storage uptight, against a wall is still possible as well having access to changing media.

Out of the box the Z5200 comes with printheads, ink cartridges (noted as introductory), 44-inch rolling stand, 44-inch spindle, a sample media roll and a power cord as well as the software needed to run the unit. There are also a few gratuitous programs included with the start-up software that include HP Designjet Excel Accounting Report, and Serif PosterDesigner Pro (free trial). With the included software you will be able to get a feeling for your new unit, but it becomes fairly obvious that you will not be relying solely on what comes with the printer. The unit is compatible with Adobe PostScript 3, Adobe PDF, TIFF, JPEG, CALS, G4, HP PCL 3 GUI, and HP-GL/2. With a dedicated file-processing memory of 32 GB, as well as a standard 160 GB hard drive the Z5200 has some seriously impressive under-the-hood specs.

The Designjet Z5200 comes with standards such as sheet feed, roll feed, and automatic cutter which operates on all media types aside from canvas. As for compatible media types the list seems never ending with photographic, proofing, fine art printing material, self-adhesive, banner and sign, bond and coated, backlit, and fabric/textile. 11 to 44-inch rolls or up to E-size sheets are handled with ease by the unit dealing also with a thickness of up to 31.5 mil by paper path.

Print technology on the Z5200 consists of HP thermal inkjets as well as HP color layering technology regarding resolution. This unit is capable of a color resolution up to 2400 x 1200 optimized dpi from 600 x 600 with maximum detail selected, the same goes for print resolution regarding non-color jobs. The ink types are standard HP Photo Inks, requiring 8 cartridges (cyan, magenta, yellow, light cyan, light gray, light magenta, matte black, photo black). The maximum length of a media roll, being application dependent, is 300 ft. As with any printer made in the new millennium the connectivity is focused around Ethernet, USB, or an EIO Jetdirect accessory slot.

The print speeds are found in the following table appropriated from HP’s spec sheet online.

Mechanical print time, US D color image, Best mode, glossy 5.1 min/page
Mechanical print time, US D color image, Normal mode, glossy 3.4 min/page
Mechanical print time, US D color image, Draft mode, coated 1.4 min/page
Mechanical print time, US D color image, Normal mode, coated 2.6 min/page
Mechanical print time, US D color line drawing, Draft mode, plain 42 sec/page
Mechanical print time, US D b&w line drawing, Draft mode, plain 42 sec/page
US D color line drawings/hr, Draft mode, plain 42.1 D prints per hour
Mechanical print time, US D b&w line drawing, Draft mode, plain 42.1 D prints per hour

 

The above specifications, hardware, and software combine in perfect harmony within the Designjet Z5200 to create what is arguably the most professional large-format application printer that is paired with the simplicity of a plug & play office printer. This unit sets precedence galore. The competitive price can be compared with massive office tower printers, and albeit a rather specialized device, the Z5200 is too cool to be brushed off as pertaining to a niche industry. Harness this unit’s power to create massive posters of your favorite musicians or full wall spreads of nature scenes, the choice is yours. Just know that at 41 m^2 per hour, you will not be waiting long for your Miles Davis print-out.

Not for a second am I trying to convince the average consumer to purchase this unit. If you have to think about it for longer than 4.5 seconds, the Z5200 is not for you. It is aimed at small copy shops or burgeoning start-ups, ambitious in their dreams and scale of jobs. As an entry-level unit, there is none easier or cheaper than the HP Designjet Z5200 PostScript and the investment will yield gross cash crops in a small matter of time. HP thought of everything, in what is clearly an effort to appeal to the beginner or novice printperson. With an embedded Spectrophometer, it will be nearly impossible to waste precious media on trial and error testing.

The HP Designjet Z5200 Postscript will quickly become the premier work horse in your print shop operation. And for good reason, with remarkable high speed printing capabilities, and rolling stand, you’ll find it difficult to conjure up a job the unit cannot accomplish in a timely fashion. The intuitive design, ease of use and value are unparalleled in other competitively priced units and that is apparent from the first boot-up.

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The Review Crew
The Review Crew is a group of beat editors, writers, and consultants that have been working together for years. They know just about everything about everything collectively and have published their collective work under the Review Crew brand moniker for almost 20 years.

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