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HP Officejet Pro K550 printer

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The HP Officejet Pro K550 is a four-color inkjet printer aimed at small offices and venues that require a medium volume of color printing. It costs more than most four-color, general-purpose inkjets, but it can hold more paper, and its higher capacity ink cartridges can print more pages than most general-purpose inkjets. So this printer requires less maintenance from users. It’s fast and it does a respectable job on photos as well as charts and graphs. Though its text prints weren’t exactly laser-sharp, text output was comparable to most inkjets.

Setup and installation of the printer was straightforward: The four individual ink cartridges load through the front of the printer. The cartridges are available in both high and standard capacities, but even the lower capacity ink tanks have at least the same estimated page yield as the higher capacity cartridges available in other inkjets, such as the HP Deskjet 5940 (   ). The K550’s high-capacity cartridges are clearly the way to go, giving you page yields three times as much as the lower capacity cartridges, for about 50 percent more money. Two print heads, one for Black and Yellow, and one for Cyan and Magenta, are installed separately. HP estimates that the cartridges can print 41,500 pages before needing to be replaced.

The printer is very fast, speedier than any of our recently tested inkjets in two of three tests--and placing second in the third test. The printer’s speed does not sacrifice print quality. Although its text could have been sharper, it printed impressive color photos on glossy paper and did well on our plain paper graphics test, delivering smooth gradients and unbroken curved lines.

There are status lights on the front of the printer for each individual cartridge and for each of the print heads. The unit uses a standard power cord—not a power brick—and connects to your Mac via USB 2.0. It comes with a CD containing manuals and drivers for Mac OS X. Network versions of the printer that include automatic duplexing are available for $299.

Timed Trials

10-page Word test 1:07
22MB Photoshop image 6:35
4-page PDF 3:24

Scale = Minutes: Seconds

jury tests

Text quality Good
Photo quality Very Good
Graphics quality Very Good

Scale = Excellent, Very Good, Good, Flawed, Unacceptable


Number of ink cartridges Four inks/ four cartridges
Cost to replace ink cartridges $74.34 (cmy = 17.16 each k=22.86) - standard $114.94(cmy=24.99 each, k=39.97) - high capacity)
Connections USB 2.0
Printer resolution 1200 x 1200 dpi
Special features High-capacity ink tanks; high-capacity input tray; automatic duplexing and extra paper trays available as options.

Macworld’s buying advice

If you are sharing a color inkjet printer at home or in a small workgroup, you should consider the HP Officejet Pro K550. Its text printing could be sharper, but its fast print speeds, roomy paper trays, and available high-capacity ink cartridges, allow you to spend more time printing than waiting or loading supplies.

[ James Galbraith is Macworld ’s lab director. ]

HP Officejet Pro K550
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