HP's Officejet 7000 photo printer is surprising for an A3 model, simply due to its size. Not its exact dimensions, mind you. It would be ridiculous to suggest that an A3 capable printer might be small in every dimension, as it's still got to accommodate A3 printing, but the 7000 is surprisingly shallow in depth, measuring in at 57.4x40.2x18.1cm. That's without paper loaded, something which is done from the front. Still, 18.1cm isn't terribly deep for an A4 printer, let alone an A3 one. With paper inserted you'll still have a large footprint, and the physics of very long exit paper trays means you'll have a wobbly surfboard of black plastic jittering out the front as well.
The Officejet 7000's construction is all cheap glossy black plastic, and like all cheap glossy black plastic, it's a magnet for fingerprints, dust and scratches. Our review unit came somewhat pre-distressed, but we can't imagine that even a fresh out of the box unit will remain looking clean all that long.
Unlike many units that have travelled down the multifunction path, the Officejet 7000 is a curiously single purpose kind of beast. It's not likely that anyone will buy an A3 printer and not want to print to A3, but beyond paper size selection, there aren't many features worth crowing about. It uses a four-ink tank solution (black, cyan, magenta, yellow) with easy insertion and ink level tracking from the supplied driver application. The supplied paper tray fits all sizes of paper, but it's a one trick pony in this regard, so you can't load up, say, plain A4 and A3 photo paper at the same time. HP rates its print speeds as up to 33ppm for draft A4, down to 8ppm for best quality.
One thing you won't find on the Officejet 7000 is any kind of wireless connectivity. It's starting to become standard even across low-cost printer lines, and at AU$399 it might have been a good inclusion. Instead, you've got the choice of USB or Ethernet connectivity only.
HP provides driver software for Mac and PC. On our test systems the Mac install went flawlessly, but HP's set-up utility hit problems on a Windows 7 system, primarily due to an older driver on the install CD. HP does provide online drivers, but it was a touch annoying having to download them just to get the system working.
Once we were up and running we ran the Officejet 7000 through our printer speed and quality tests, with additional pages added to cover its A3 capability. Print speed qualifications always carry the magical "up to" qualifier, and predictably we didn't hit anywhere near the Officejet 7000's claimed 33ppm speed claims. In draft mode we managed a single text page in 11 seconds, with an average of 18 pages per minute (ppm), dropping down to 22 seconds and 9ppm in normal coverage mode. That is slightly better than HP's claims for normal mode printing, which gave crisp and clear text.
On the photo front, the Officejet 7000 managed a 10x15cm photo print in 40 seconds. Quality was fair but not exceptional, with a slightly darker tone than we would have liked. Printing the same image up to A3 only added 15 seconds to the print time, but again the photo quality wasn't superb. Printing a mock A3 document with plenty of images took just under a minute, but in that role the Officejet 7000's photo weaknesses were less apparent.
Supplies and support
The Officejet 7000 uses either high capacity or standard ink tanks (HP 920/HP 920XL). At the time of writing, based on an average cartridge price of AU$24 for black, and AU$19 each for colour, a black and white page costs 5¢, and a colour page costs 8¢.
HP offers a two-year on-site exchange warranty, as well as a host of downloads and troubleshooting tips on its website.
It's clear from HP's marketing materials alone that this is a printer designed more for marketing materials than high quality large size photo proofs or anything of the sort. If you're after a colour printer for small marketing posters it could work well, but those who want photo fidelity in their larger images will want to look elsewhere.