A3 printers are terribly specific devices, because they have to be. Not everyone needs to print on a regular basis at A3 size, and not everybody will be able to accommodate an A3 printer on their desk — for many small businesses or individuals an A3 printer may as well be its own desk. The HP Officejet 7610 Wide Format e-All-in-One (which from now on we'll refer to as the Officejet 7610) is no exception. HP's own marketing material may refer to it as "surprisingly compact", but at 625.2x486.5x297mm and 16.2kg it's not a printer you can easily miss.
Having said that, it's pleasantly laid out, with the typical piano black finish you'd expect out of any modern printer and smooth curves that guide you towards its 2.65-inch colour LCD and paper tray at the base.
In specification terms, it supports Ethernet and 802.11b/g/n Wi-Fi with support for HP's remote ePrint built in as well, meaning that it's a printer that you can shoot documents to from just about anywhere you'd like. It's multifunction, with a 279x432mm 1200x1200 dpi 24-bit scan plate, automatic document feeder and faxing capabilities if your business hasn't quite made it out of the 1990s just yet. It makes decent sense that if you're going to dedicate quite this much space to a printer that it should do everything short of baking cookies, so extra features are quite welcome.
The OfficeJet 7610 uses four colour cartridges — Black, Cyan, Magenta and Yellow — with ordinary rated page yields of 400 A4 pages. High yield cartridges are also available with a claimed 1,000 page yield. HP's RRP for the black cartridge is $33, which equates to around 8.25c per page. The high yield equivalent has an RRP of $54, which suggests a per page price of 5.4c per page. In other words, if you were going to push this printer hard, it would make sense to invest in the higher yield cartridges right from day one.
In terms of print claims, HP suggests the OfficeJet 7610 is capable of "up to" 32ppm draft black A4 printing, scaling down to 3.5ppm in best quality, while on the colour side it's claimed to be good for 29/3ppm respectively. HP doesn't provide speed claims for A3 printing, which is slightly annoying. Who's going to buy an A3 printer and not print at A3 sizes on it?
Setup of the Officejet 7610 is relatively straightforward, with the usual array of small bits of blue tape to unravel and print cartridges to install. HP supplies every type of cable you'd need for connectivity in the box.
One factor that we rather liked during setup was that the printer itself comes wrapped in what we can only call a shopping bag. This is a plus because the OfficeJet is as noted, quite large and bulky. Getting it out of the box by yourself without the handles on the plastic bag would be murder. With them, it's only mildly abusive.
It's Wi-Fi capable, and the 2.65-inch LCD display makes it fairly simple to throw onto a network for direct access across multiple machines. We tested print speeds with a connected USB cable largely to eliminate any network bottlenecks, but both ethernet and Wi-Fi worked well during our test period.
Using best coverage from a cold start, the Officejet 7610 managed a single page in 33.1 seconds, and an average of just 2ppm, which isn't too far off HP's claims. It didn't quite match up to HP's claims as well with draft printing, where it spun out the first page in 15 seconds, but then accelerated to manage an average of 20ppm. For an inkjet that's acceptable, but it is more than 10ppm slower than HP's claims.
Printing at A3 sizes naturally saw print speeds fall, as did printing in colour. It's not likely that you'd just want to print plain text at A3 sizes, but we found that if you did, the average print speed was around 35 seconds per page. Start sending it more complex A3 colour work and speed drops to below 1ppm, but that's very much to be expected.
Colour quality when printing on either plain or photo paper was decent without being stellar. Again, that's a matter of the right tool for the job; if photo fidelity is a must-have item, then a dedicated photo printer would be a better option.
Running an A3 printer is never going to be a cheap enterprise, and it's not for everybody. If you have regular need to print A3 documents then the HP Officejet 7610 is a generally fine printer, but we'd suggest investing quickly in the high yield cartridges to keep your costs down. If you only need very intermittent A3 printing, we'd suggest a cheaper regular A4 printer and intermittent trips to the copy shop.