HP's going all out to attract the big work-from-home and remote learning crowds with its latest printer launch, HP Plus. As opposed to the retronymmed "HP Standard," which is what you'd call today's printers, Plus adds a bunch of cloud-related services and one-shot benefits at a cheaper price in exchange for requiring an internet connection for the printer, an HP account and restricting yourself to HP's inks and toners rather than opting for cheap third-party options. Plus isn't an extra-cost option -- you don't have to subscribe to the company's Instant Ink auto refill delivery service -- and is launching in conjunction with the new HP LaserJet M200 series printers (starting at $179) as well as part of the OfficeJet Pro 8000 and 9000 series. Instant Ink for toner starts at $2 per month.
HP Plus versions of printers come with an extra six months of Instant Ink for free and a bump to a two-year warranty from the usual one year. Features beyond what's available with HP Standard include:
- Cloud resiliency: autodetection and correction of Wi-Fi connection hiccups
- Smart Security: monitors printer for and prevention of malware attacks
- Native printing from mobile devices (as opposed to having to launch an app)
- Private pickup: the ability to time a job to print while you're standing there waiting to pick it up.
- Smart dashboard: Remote printer and user management
- Forest First: HP expands its reforestation investment to be based on all pages printed with a Plus printer from HP paper-only-based investment.
Tying the use of its consumables to Plus -- notably toner for laser printers -- allows HP to tackle one of its biggest headaches: the extensive use of cheap, remanufactured toner cartridges instead of HP's own with your explicit agreement to allow it to lock you out of using them and the means to circumvent your circumventions. Consumables are a big profit center for printer companies and toner is a bigger chunk of the resales than inkjet cartridges because it's a lot simpler to implement.
And you can tell how important it is to HP that you buy the Plus version: The new LaserJet 200 series' debut product, the LaserJet MFP M234dwe, runs $179 for the HP Plus model, while the standard model costs more at $229. The hardware specs include 600 dpi, up to 30 pages per minute print speed, 2.4GHz and 5GHz Wi-Fi channels plus Bluetooth, a 150-sheet input tray, up to legal-size paper and automatic duplexing.