HP’s latest large format printer proves a versatile and compact tool for small architecture practices.
HP already owns the lion’s share of the Large Format Printer market but is now looking to expand into smaller firms with the new entry-level colour Designjet T120 printer.
Directly aimed at small to single-person businesses, or students, the latest addition to the Designjet family is compact. At 987 x 530 x 285 mm and 25.5kg it’s small and light enough to sit on any standard office surface, while the care put into its looks won’t have aesthetes trying to hide it from view.
Those that prefer a free-standing device can invest in a pair of attachable legs and a catch-bin for around £120. However, by not forcing its customers to buy it as part of a package, HP seems to have shed as much weight as possible to bring the price down.
Despite its size the T120 adequately handles engineering- and architecture-sized output. It supports media up to 610 mm (24-inches) wide (A1) via a conventional front-loading roll. A built-in tray at the rear takes A4 and A3 cut sheets, meaning no doubling up on a separate desktop printer.
Print quality is as one has come to expect from a HP Designjet. With the appropriate media, the optimised 1,200 x 1,200 dpi print resolution outputs high quality colour photorealistic renders, even though the resolution is half that of other Designjets. The 0.04mm minimum line width allows for detailed architectural drawings. Throughput is more modest with a quoted speed for line drawings of 40 A1 sheets per hour.
The Designjet T120 comes with new generation print head technology. The new ‘long-life’ CMYK print head is claimed to have a lifespan of five years, printing at a rate of 3,000 prints per six months, reducing the hardware consumable costs.
According to HP, the head benefits from improved ink efficiency technology, requiring less ‘purging’ of ink during preparation, offering further savings. This should also help extend periods of unattended operation. Compared to its older siblings, the ink cartridge capacities are modest — black (80ml); black (38ml); cyan, magenta, yellow (29ml).
With 256MB memory and no hard drive to store queued jobs, the Designjet T120 is very much a ‘personal printer’. But this doesn’t mean it must be tethered to a computer via USB or Ethernet. It’s one of the first Designjets to offer WiFi built-in. WiFi is a standard feature in many desktop printers, but not wide format.
Like all new HP Designjet ePrinters, the T120 is web-connected and supports HP Designjet ePrint & Share technology. This means users can print direct from a web- browser, iPhone, iPad or Android device, or by sending an email to the machine. Documents stored on the ePrint & Share cloud service can also be accessed from the T120 using the touchscreen.
HP’s touchscreen controls has also been refined. With a clean and simple user interface the 4.3-inch screen is easy to navigate, and extremely quick to pick up and to operate. The full colour screen presents clear and useful print previews where users can pan and zoom around a drawing prior to committing to print.
The HP Designjet T120 looks to be an excellent proposition for the independent architect or engineer. It may lack the print throughput and workgroup capabilities of the more expensive members of the Designjet family, but it’s good to see HP hasn’t cut back on other key features, notably the touchscreen control, ePrint & Share and built in WiFi. The 2-in-1 print capability is also a clever way of reducing the cost and space of running two separate machines.
At under £750 the T120 seems like a great piece of equipment for small offices, but the T520, another new addition to HP’s Designjet family, will arguably be the better option for those with more print heavy workflows.