This review appears in the July issue of PC Advisor, available now in all good newsagents. The picture, specs and scores to the right are for the Deskjet 6980; for details of the 6940, kindly click here.

With inkjet manufacturers jumping aboard the digital-camera bandwagon, there's a dearth of good all-round, office-friendly inkjets. HP has filled the gap with its Deskjet 6980 and 6940. These models are very similar, but the 6980 has extra Wi-Fi and duplexing features. Both would be at ease in an office or home environment and come with several digicam-friendly features, including PictBridge support.

Built around a thermal-inkjet engine, the HPs boast a maximum software resolution of 4,800x1,200dpi (dots per inch), which is on a par with other good models on the market. Finely designed print heads contain 672 black ink and 600 colour nozzles. Both printers support Vivera ink technology. They can produce up to 73 million colour combinations, ensuring depth of colour and protection against fading.

Installation frustration

However, the printers weren't the easiest to install. The number of connectivity options is probably a factor here. Both can be connected by USB or ethernet, and the 6980 can be rigged up to an 802.11b or 802.11g Wi-Fi network. Bluetooth compatibility is available as an option.

There is a 150-sheet input tray – handy for large workloads. We recommend you keep the paper tray topped up at regular intervals, since the printers suffer paper-feed problems if it isn't well-loaded. The 6980 benefits from a duplexer unit, an effective method of printing both sides of the paper. This is a high-end feature.

Both models work like a dream. Software drivers are smooth, although we did notice small errors. Quality settings aren't always stacked up in order of speed and sometimes the drivers class 'Fast Normal' mode as the lowest quality setting. The ability to automatically sense which media is being loaded into the printer is a nice touch, and the software package is comprehensive.

Quoted print speeds are to be taken with a pinch of salt – 36ppm (pages per minute) and 27ppm are quoted for black and colour respectively. We found that performance weighed in at a more modest 15.8ppm and 7ppm. However, this real-world speed is still very good. We've tested only two printers that could match the 7ppm for colour, while the 15.8ppm black ink figure is unmatched.

Colour graphics are decent, producing good results in normal mode at 2.2ppm. The 0.7ppm 'Best' mode generates excellent-quality images. But it’s word work where the HPs really shine. We have yet to see an inkjet capable of higher-quality text printing.

HP Deskjet 6980: Specs

  • HP Deskjet 6980: max resolution 4,800x1,200dpi
  • quoted print speed B=36ppm C=27ppm
  • actual print speed B=15.8ppm C=7ppm
  • ink costs B=£21 C=£25
  • print life (pages) B=800 C=450
  • supports USB 1.1/2.0/ethernet/Wi-Fi
  • 1-year warranty
  • 450x433x144mm
  • 7.24kg
  • HP Deskjet 6980: max resolution 4,800x1,200dpi
  • quoted print speed B=36ppm C=27ppm
  • actual print speed B=15.8ppm C=7ppm
  • ink costs B=£21 C=£25
  • print life (pages) B=800 C=450
  • supports USB 1.1/2.0/ethernet/Wi-Fi
  • 1-year warranty
  • 450x433x144mm
  • 7.24kg

OUR VERDICT

With these prices, neither printer is an impulse buy. However, they're excellent for home and office use – particularly if you want them for text work and other Office applications. For the typical user, the 6940 is the safest bet. However, if you use Wi-Fi, or regularly use double-sided printing, the 6980 is worth every penny.

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