Review: HP OfficeJet Pro 8720 multi-function printer

HP’s hulking OfficeJet Pro 8720 is one of the biggest A4 inkjet multifunction peripherals (MFPs) we’ve reviewed. That’s largely down to an unusual printer design where paper is ejected away from you into a 150-sheet tray (most inkjets print towards you). The top portion contains a flatbed scanner with a 50-sheet automatic document feeder (ADF).

The OfficeJet Pro 8720 is perfectly specified for a busy small office, with support for wired and wireless networking, and a USB host port for walk-up print and scan jobs. Speeds are high, with HP claiming up to 24 pages per minute (ppm) for black A4 printing, and 20ppm for colour. The paper tray holds 250-sheets, but if you need to expand you can add another paper tray for a 500-page total. Both printer and scanner support automatic duplexing, so you can print, scan, copy or fax double-sided documents. Also, with this being 2016, there’s a big colour touchscreen for control, and NFC for quick and easy pairing with mobile devices.

This MFP’s touchscreen is intuitive, but not as responsive as HP’s’ best. We were disappointed to find a few simple office features were missing: there’s no option to secure a print job, and from an inserted USB stick you can only print photos, not PDF or other document files. It’s also a shame to find no bypass feed for special media.

These relatively minor grumbles aside, there’s a lot to like about the OfficeJet Pro 8720. It’s a particularly fast printer, delivering our black text test at 21.4 pages per minute (ppm), and at draft quality reaching 25.4ppm – faster than HP’s claimed speed. Colour prints were impressively fast, too: its 8.6ppm on our graphics-heavy test is well above average. Fortunately, this speed doesn’t come at the cost of quality: black text was crisp and dark, and graphics were strong and free of obvious grain or streaking – although we did spot a small amount of bleed through on our 80gsm test paper.

Photocopy quality was also very high, with single copies taking about 14 seconds, and a 10-page mono copy just 65 seconds. The same job in colour needed 90 seconds, which is still quite quick. Scan performance was a bit less impressive: while a 300 dots-per-inch (dpi) A4 scan took just nine seconds, there was a 46-second wait for a 600dpi photo scan. We’re not fans of HP’s over-simplified TWAIN scan interface, in which 150dpi scans aren’t usually available. This MFP also failed to scan at 1,200dpi unless we completed a preview first and, as usual, scans at 600dpi and above appeared to have been digitally sharpened, with no opt-out.

While it’s not perfect, this is generally a very good MFP. It’s helped by reasonable ink costs of about a penny per black A4 page, or 4.3p in full colour – calculated for the 953XL colour and 957XL black cartridges. At this price, if you can live without a PCL driver, we’d recommend Epson’s WorkForce Pro WF-5620DWF. If not, the OfficeJet Pro 8720 is a decent alternative.

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