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Ink-based printers are now capable of matching the fast throughput speeds of colour laser printers as HP adds the Edgeline range to its portfolio.

The new printers process printouts at a rate up to 50 colour prints per minute, which beats many of the company's LaserJets and is approximately 10 times the speed of current ink-jet printers.

The vast improvement in performance is due to a new technology that uses several print heads that span the width of the paper. This does away with the need to scan across the paper as a line is printed. Instead, like line-printers in the dot-matrix days, a complete line of text is printed instantly and only the paper moves.

"Simplifying the mechanics means that the printers are faster and more reliable", claimed Jan Riecher, HP EMEA vice president for the Imaging and Printer Group, at the European launch in Paris.

The printers can use paper sizes from A6 to A3 and the non-moving print head rule is only broken when A3 is used. The heads are optimised for A4 paper widths and so the heads have to move sideways to print an A3 row of text in two stages.

Another improvement to the performance is that a reservoir has been added to the four Vivera ink reservoirs. This contains a bonding agent that effectively sticks the ink to the paper. Immediately on exiting the print process, a printout can be handled without smudging the ink.

Additionally, a water spill on a printout does not wash the ink away or cause colours to bleed into one another. This anti-smear process also means that solvent-based highlighter pens can be used without destroying or smudging the text.

The HP CM8060 and CM8050 Color MultiFunction Printers (MFPs) differ only in their throughput speeds. The 8060 offers 60 ppm monochrome and 50 ppm in colour while the 8050 Colour MFP prints at 50 ppm and 40 ppm respectively.

Another feature which will become standard on all future MFPs is a 10-inch colour touch-screen that not only displays all the available applications and settings but also offers context-sensitive troubleshooting videos. For example, if there is a paper jam, the video shows how to remove the paper hopper and then waits until sensors let it know that the user has completed this task before showing the next stage of the process. This process of show and wait repeats until the problem is solved. HP claims that this will save money and help desk time.

Managed Print Services allows the printer to charge according to the mode of use. Prints can be produced as high quality, finished prints, or as draft proofs which use less colour inks but maintain the quality of black text. This saving is shown in billing back departments for their usage. Prior to this, prints cost the same regardless of quality.

The Edgeline MFPs are on sale now, direct from HP or through its channel partners with service and support options. Prices have yet to be announced and are currently only available on application to HP or its partners. ®

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