PageWide: HP opens a third front in printing

PageWideSince the launch of the OfficeJet Pro X printers nearly two years ago, HP and its partners have been fighting the good fight against the old perception that inkjet isn’t a technology ready for the demands of enterprise printing. Now HP is trying to take the pressure off that fight by rebranding printers using the technology found in the OfficeJet Pro X family. Rather than going to market under the OfficeJet brand, HP will now send them to market under the name PageWide, after the distinct ink technology used in the printers.

“There’s still a lot of stigma around ink in the office,” admitted Larry Tracy, director of product planning for PageWide at HP. “But those who try it, like it.”

Tracy said that the company’s solution providers who’ve seeded enterprise accounts with OfficeJet Pro X products have found that customers have stuck with them — except, in some cases, in the marketing department, where the higher-gloss output of a colour laser printer is still preferable.

Tracy admits that getting around the stigma of ink in the enterprise is a big part of HP’s decision to carve out a new niche with PageWide, but the fact is the technology is significantly different. Yes, it still uses ink, just like inkjet printers. But that’s about where the similarities end. The PageWide system is much simpler than traditional inkjet mechanisms, and affords greater speed and reliability. In going with the PageWide name, HP is hoping to compare its enterprise printers not to traditional inkjet printers, which are frequently connected with consumer-grade products, but rather with the high-end Web press units from which PageWide originated.

PageWide offers a lot of advantages over inkjet, and some over laser, including faster first page out, only one consumable, reduced waste production both in terms of packaging and consumables, and greater speed.

New members of the family, the first introduced under the PageWide brand, include the PageWide Enterprise Color 500 series, which offers speed up to 50 pages per minute (75 in “General Office Mode), and the PageWide Pro 500, a very similar product but one lacking in the Enterprise edition’s FutureSmart firmware. The new printers are the first to be launched with a new front-mounted ink cartridge system, one which allows for a significant upgrade in terms of pages printed per cartridge, as well as for greater ease of use.

Also new are the PageWide Pro 400 and PageWide 300, lower-cost, lower-volume members of the family.

The new PageWide family will also steal a page from HP’s LaserJet family of printers, and offer a special “managed” version of the printer for managed print service providers. As well as being a unique product number to discourage customers from SKU-comparing against retail and online sellers, the managed editions of PageWide printers will offer a greater-capacity ink cartridge, Tracy said.

The new family comes at a fortuitous time for MPSPs. “More and more of our managed print service customers are asking for PageWide,” he said, often buoyed by seeding programs like those previously mentioned.

With three technologies in the HP lineup, the company has some work to do to clearly define who the customers are in each category, but here, Tracy seems pretty clear. Inkjet remains the lowest-cost option, while the remainder will be split between lowest-cost colour printing in the office (PageWide) and high monochrome volume and/or glossy production value of laser.