As robust as our online lives are, it can sometimes feel like our other tools are missing out on something essential. Take printers, for instance. In the beginning, they were little more than tools for transitioning from digital to material. Then, along came the scanner, and when they were combined, we got a tool that could move us both ways, shuttling our most important documents and images back and forth between cyberspace and meatspace. The final improvement, it seemed to many, was in connecting these devices to the internet. Because once they had access to the cloud, physical files could be near-instantaneously transformed into digital files accessible on any mobile device.
The thing is, once this important need was filled, besides improving the speed and reliability of both the printers and scanners—admittedly, necessary improvements—consumers wanted to know how else printers could facilitate the dozens of transitions each of us takes every day between our digital lives and our material lives. The instantaneous transfer from PDF to paper (and vice versa) was the printer’s first accomplishment, but not its last.
HP LaserJet printers, like the LaserJet Pro MFP M477, have improved this core function—up to 40 pages per minute, capable of printing thousands of sheets per month, access to the internet, and all the other specs a powerful printer should deliver on—but have also expanded on that role a printer plays as a catalyst between our two lives. Subject to the workings of moving parts, mechanical devices are expensive to improve, which is why the highest grade printers and other mechanical devices, like cameras, are out of the budget of smaller offices. In order to improve core functionality without driving up the price, HP looked to other fields, like chemistry and software engineering, to improve printer technology.
The toner particles of HP’s newest printers—the little dots that give our images shape and color, like pixels on a screen—melt at a lower temperature, which not only delivers up to 33% more prints per cartridge, but also allows the printer to run cooler, and produce 53% less energy. These printers also have advanced security software, which keeps documents stored in the cloud queue safe from prying eyes. Documents that might be stored in a locked filing cabinet or on a password-protected server are no longer vulnerable in transit. But, at the same time, the access to printers has been improved for verified users. As more and more of us rely on tablets and phones to handle serious work, it’s easier than ever to print from these devices and access scans. Or, even print directly from email and the cloud, because every step we take costs time and a possibility for error. The office is no longer locked to a room in a corporate building, but can be wherever we are with our phones.
Because fewer of us are printing novel-length stacks of documents anymore—instead, just a few pages at a time—HP printers are designed to print the first page of a document the fastest, and so on. They also print double-sided as quickly as their competitors print single-sided, so most of us will find our documents ready by the time we even walk over to that part of the office. The printer is one of those devices that works best the less you notice it. When it’s doing its job correctly, you don’t have to fiddle with menus, or puzzle out how to replace toner, or fix constant jams. Our physical and digital lives are not really two distinct things—they’re one and the same. So, the devices that serve as the link between them should be as simple and profound as walking out the door.