Hewlett-Packard 500 and HP Designjet 500ps for CAD, AEC, graphic design.

Test page of the HP 500 PS
Test page of the HP 500 PS.

For many years the HP Designjet 500 and 500ps were the primary low-cost HP plotters for CAD, graphic design, renderings, technical drawings and every aspect of AEC drawings. I could never understand why HP, with all its experience and capabilities, could not improve the Designjet 500 and 500ps a bit more.

So if you see a used HP Designjet 500 or HP 500ps, it is not a good investment for 3D renderings or photographs. An aged HP Designjet 500 or 500ps is sort of acceptable for technical line drawings in AEC applications because you won’t notice banding or other minor issues as much with black-and-white line drawings. But if you want to do a photo exhibit, the HP 800 is slightly better and the HP Designjet 5000 or 5500 is significantly better. And obviously a new printer from today can produce even better color.

In all cases the “PS” merely means a slow PostScript sort of RIP-like software. It will work okay if you have eternal patience but it is better to buy a real full scale RIP such as Wasatch Soft RIP. So the HP Designjet 500 has no RIP on board (you simply buy Wasatch or comparable yourself). The model 500ps does have the equivalent of RIP software on board, but slow and can’t be updated to run any other printer after your 500ps wears out.

The PS RIP on the HP 500 was it’s most unfriendly feature.

HP is a capable printer manufacturer but not many printer makers are very good with selecting RIP software. Year after year HP picked the more unpopular RIP software around, first EFI Fiery hardware RIP (even Epson got rid of that after years). The PS RIP software was simply too slow, in an era when most other RIP software could RIP on the fly. Wasatch SoftRIP would be one better alternative choice. Even PosterJet would be more adequate than the PS that came with the HP printer (today in 2009, Wasatch is significantly more advanced and can run on more different brands of printers than can PosterJet).

HP 500ps protter CAD Gis
Hewlett Packard 500ps.

Today in 2009 be careful with old used CAD plotters such as HP 500ps.

Lack of spare parts is the first aspect to consider for an aaging used printer. Tech support might barely still be available for an HP 500 or HP 800. On the HP 5000 and 5500 there should be enough old printers that you could buy a few extra chassis and simply strip them for their spare parts: this would be less cost than buying a new spare part.

I had an HP 800ps, HP 1055 or 1050, two HP 5000ps printers and an HP 5500ps (which is still working every day after more years than I can count). I did not have an HP Designjet 500 because there was one next door in the Department of Architecture at the university in those days. So I could see its pros and cons without needing to suffer through having one ourselves.

But if you can get one for under $300, in excellent working condition, without the ink lines being blocked with dried and hardened ink, and if you can test and see it actually functioning, then it’s okay if you only need to print drawings and basic renderings that are not photographic.  It was for photo quality where the HP 500 was not adequate.

The advantage of a place that offers both Epson, HP, and Epson is that they can provide some tips on the differences. If a store sells only one brand or the other, they will understandably push the brand they sell. One value-added retailer that we have visited several times is Parrot Digigraphic. They know each of the brands and models.. Their telephone is 978.670.7766

The complete FLAAR Reports are in full-color PDF format. Our institute has comprehensive FLAAR Reports on over 73 different wide format inkjet printers, RIP software, color management, scanners, digital cameras and on countless markets such as wide format inkjet printers for photography, giclee, proofing, CAD, GIS, graphic design, signs, and specialty applications too. All FLAAR Reports by Dr Nicholas Hellmuth and his team are available on Wide-format-printers.NET


Most recently updated May 4, 2009.
Previous updates: January 30, 2006, .August 12, 2005, July 22, 2005.