The HP Officejet 7000 wide-format colour inkjet printer gives small businesses and offices the ability to print larger-size documents, such as tabloid-size publications or small posters, in-house and for a reasonable cost. This added capability justifies its higher price compared with a regular-size inkjet printer.

The HP Officejet 7000's speed in our tests was slightly above average overall. It printed plain text at 11.9 pages per minute and graphics at around 3.4ppm. HP promises 33ppm, but its spec ignores the processing time before the first page comes out - something the rest of us cannot do. All speed tests were performed using letter-size paper; assume that a tabloid-sized page would take four times longer.

The HP Officejet 7000 printed best on plain paper. Text was charcoal-gray rather than black, but crisp. colours were smooth and realistic. We'd expect that coated inkjet paper would also produce good results. Step up to photo paper (HP's own), however, and colours start to veer off course. Flesh tones assumed an unsettling orange cast. Given this performance, the printer's lack of media slots is acceptable.

Features are geared more toward work than play, but at light volume. A single input tray holds up to 150 sheets. Above it, the 100-sheet output tray locks at an upward angle to ease media loading. Its telescoping extensions bounce easily when tapped. Automatic duplexing is manual only (with driver help); no upgrades to the paper handling are available.

The control panel is also spare. Buttons are identified by icons rather than words; the four LEDs with droplet-shaped icons (one for each ink colour) lack any labels; and there's no LCD to display status or instructions. You'll need to consult the online manual to identify the controls and decipher at least some of the flashing LED combinations.

Ink costs are very affordable, especially when using the high-yield cartridges. Standard cartridges cost less than average.

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At its best, the HP Officejet 7000 produces high-quality output on plain paper - and does so cheaply. Its features restrict it to use by small workgroups or home offices, however. For a faster and better-equipped (but costlier) option, check out its older cousin, HP's Officejet Pro K8600dn.

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