HP includes self-help features in new enterprise printers

Hewlett-Packard has introduced two high-end enterprise printers that, as you would expect, can churn out pages a lot faster than its existing models do. But what is really different about the new machines is the attention that HP has given to the human element of printing.

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Hewlett-Packard has introduced two high-end enterprise printers that can churn out pages a lot faster than its existing models do. But what is really different about the new machines is the attention that HP has given to the human element of printing.

The company has added a variety of self-help features, including live-action videos and step-by-step control panel instructions, in an effort to make it easier for end users to address paper jams and other problems themselves -- without calling the IT help desk.

For instance, if paper gets jammed in one of the new CM8060 or CM88050 printers, the AutoNav self-help tool will play a video that provides instructions on how to find the location of the jam. In addition, HP said, LED lights and door sensors installed on the printer will function as "digital breadcrumbs," signalling which cabinet to open to fix the problem.

Ecco Group a maker of emergency lighting and other safety-oriented products, is beta-testing the CM8060. The printer's new user interface features are "very intuitive," said Norm Nguyen, a systems engineer at Ecco.

Nguyen said that there are seven or eight different areas in the printer where a jam can occur, and that the self-help videos are specific to the location of a jam. He added, though, that Ecco has had very few problems with the new printer.

Todd Mansfield, Ecco's systems engineering team leader, said the self-help instructions provided by the printer are to the point. "It's not a long, drawn-out video," Mansfield said. "It's very succinct."

Todd Gregory, a marketing manager in the enterprise segment of HP's printer division, said that the company did a lot of market research on the operator interface and that the primary feedback was to make it easy to use. Moreover, HP estimates that printer-related calls to the help desk cost companies an average of about £12 each.

The CM8060 and CM8050 are being rolled out as part of a renewed focus on the enterprise printing market that HP began last October. The two printers cost about £12,000 and £9,500, respectively. And what customers get for those prices are high-speed printers for copying, scanning and faxing documents.

HP said the CM8060 can print black-and-white documents at an average rate of 60 pages per minute (ppm) and colour ones at a speed of 50 ppm. The CM8050 can reach speeds of 50 ppm and 40 ppm, respectively. By comparison, HP's Colour LaserJet 4730 enterprise printer tops out at 30 ppm for colour documents.

The new printers are based on HP's Edgeline technology, which prints a line at a time and does not use the back-and-forth cartridges that are included in many other inkjet printers.

HP said it thinks the CM8060 and CM8050 will produce pages at a cost of 3p to 4p per colour page, which is about 30% less than what existing printers are capable of. But the company is not disclosing exact cost-per-page data because, it said, that will vary customer to customer depending on their printer usage and service contracts.

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