HP Color LaserJet Pro M252dw

BY M. DAVID STONE

If you need a color laser printer for heavy-duty personal use or light-duty shared use in a micro office, the HP Color LaserJet Pro M252dw ($299.99) is a terrific fit. Along with fast speed and high-quality output, it offers mobile printing, both Ethernet and Wi-Fi for connecting to a network, and even the ability to print from a USB memory key. The combination makes it our Editors’ Choice personal or light-duty color laser printer for a micro office.

The M252dw’s$159.00 at BUYDIG.com key strength is that it beats most of its competition for both speed and output quality. That’s a notable feat, considering that most color lasers in this price range tend to score well in only one of those categories. When I reviewed the Brother HL-3170CDW$248.94 at Amazon, for example, I pointed out that although it comes up a little short on output quality, it made up for that with its speed. The M252dw not only delivers higher-quality text, graphics, and photos than the Brother model, it’s convincingly faster, too.

Paper handling is the one area where the M252dw can’t match some other models in the same price class. It’s not hard to find printers, including the Brother HL-3170CDW, that offer a 250-sheet page capacity plus a single-sheet manual feed. The M252dw is limited to a 150-sheet tray plus a manual feed. That’s fine for most personal use, but a little low for a shared printer, which is what makes the M252dw best reserved for light-duty shared use even by micro-office standards. One helpful extra, however, is the built-in duplexer.

Mobile Printing and More
The M252dw offers other features that go beyond the basics, including its ability to print from a USB memory key. In addition, if you connect it to a network by Ethernet or Wi-Fi, and assuming the network is connected to the Internet, you can print through the cloud and can use the front-panel touch-screen to take advantage of HP Web apps. The Web apps let you print information from select websites, including Dropbox and Google Docs. You can also connect to the printer through an access point on your network to print from Android and iOS phones and tablets.

If you connect to a single computer via USB cable, you won’t be able to use HP’s Web apps or print through the cloud, but thanks to the printer’s Wi-Fi Direct, you’ll still be able to connect directly from your phone or tablet to print. For mobile devices that support NFC, you can also establish the connection simply by touching the device to the NFC logo on the front of the printer.

 

Setup and Speed
At 9.3 by 15.4 by 16.4 inches, and a hefty 27 pounds, the M252dw is on the big-and-heavy side for a personal printer, but still small enough to share a desk with and light enough for one person to move into place. Setup is standard fare. For my tests, I connected it to a network using its Ethernet port and installed the software on a system running Windows Vista.

The print speed is a definitive strong point. HP rates the M252dw at 19 pages per minute (ppm) both for color and for black and white, which is the speed you should see with text or other documents that need little to no formatting. On our business applications suite, I clocked it (using QualityLogic’s hardware and software) at 8.3ppm. That makes it surprisingly fast for both its price and its rated speed.

As a point of comparison, the Brother HL-3170CDW has a 23ppm rating, which in theory makes it roughly 20 percent faster than the M252dw. But its speed on our tests was 6.8ppm, which actually makes it more than 20 percent slower. The M252dw is even faster on our tests than the HL-L8250CDN$308.40 at Amazon, which Brother rates at 30ppm, but on our tests managed only a leisurely 6.6ppm.

Output Quality
Overall output quality is above par for a color laser, thanks primarily to the graphics output. Text is a match for most lasers, making it easily good enough for almost any business need. Colors in graphics are a touch dark in terms of a hue-saturation-brightness color model, but still suitably eye-catching and well saturated, and a step above the norm for the category.

Photo quality falls in the middle of a tight range that includes most color lasers. From two or three feet away, you could easily mistake the output for traditional photos, especially if they’re framed behind glass. Within that context, however, they aren’t very high quality.

Colors in the M252dw’s photos tended to be a little dark in testing, as was the case with its graphics but more so. Most people would consider the text and graphics good enough for marketing materials like one-page handouts and trifold brochures. The photos aren’t really suitable for that, although you could use them if you don’t need top-tier photo quality. On the other hand, photos quality is easily good enough for any business use.

Conclusion
If you need a shared printer for medium- to heavy-duty use in a micro office, be sure to consider the Brother HL-3170CDW and the Brother HL-L8250CDN. Both offer a higher paper capacity than the HP Color LaserJet Pro M252dw, and both are fast enough for most micro offices, despite being slower than the HP printer. If you’re in the market for a personal printer, however, or a shared printer for light-duty use, and want fast speed, high-quality output, suitable paper handling, and convenience features like mobile printing and being able to print from a USB key, the M252dw is hard to beat, making it an easy pick as our Editors’ Choice.

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Dell Smart Printer – S2810dn

BY M. DAVID STONE

The Dell Smart Printer – S2810dn ($229.99) delivers the right mix of features for a workhorse monochrome laser printer—namely, fast speed, good paper handling, and reasonably high-quality output. Its 350-sheet paper capacity puts a limit on how much it can print conveniently, but it’s suitable, and a good choice, for up to heavy-duty use as a personal printer or moderate use in a micro to small office or workgroup.

Features
In many ways, the S2810dn$149.99 at Dell is a close match for the Brother HL-5450DN$144.99 at Amazon, which is our Editors’ Choice for this category of monochrome laser printer. Both offer Ethernet and USB as connection choices, with the Dell printer adding Wi-Fi as an optional ($59.99) extra, and Brother offering the slightly more expensive Brother HL-5470DW$179.99 at Amazon as a nearly identical alternative to the Brother HL-5450DN, but with Wi-Fi added.

All three printers also offer similar paper handling, with a 250-sheet main tray, a duplexer for two-sided printing, and a multipurpose tray. The S2810dn actually has a small edge for its standard paper capacity, with a 100-sheet, rather than 50-sheet, multipurpose tray. However, Brother offers an optional additional tray for both of its models, boosting the maximum capacity for each to 800 sheets. The option to add another tray helps make the Brother models appropriate for heavier-duty printing than the S2810dn can easily manage. That, along with a low price, keeps the Brother HL-5450DN in place as our top pick.

Like the Brother models, the S2810dn offers mobile printing support. If you connect it to a network, you can print from iOS, Android, and Windows phones and tablets, by connecting through an access point on your network. Dell also offers the ability to print from select websites (including Dropbox, Evernote, and Box, for example) using a supplied program that runs on your PC or an equivalent downloadable app on your mobile device. In either case, you give commands from the program and relay the data through your PC, phone, or tablet.

The advantage of this approach—as opposed to connecting to websites directly with the printer and giving commands from the front panel—is that you can print from a website even if the printer is connected to your PC via USB cable. Because the PC-based app works only with Windows 7 and above, however, I couldn’t try it out with the Windows Vista system I used for testing.

The printer offers some security features for offices that need it—including private printing, which lets you send a job to the S2810dn, but not print it until you enter a PIN code at the front panel.

Setup, Speed, and Output Quality
The S2810dn measures 10.8 by 16.1 by 17.2 (HWD), which makes it a little bigger than you might like to have sitting on your desk, but small enough to fit reasonably well if you need to keep it there. At 27.1 pounds, most people will be able to move it into place without help. For my tests, I connected it to a network, using the Ethernet port. Setup is standard fare.

Dell rates the S2810dn at 35 pages per minute (ppm), which is the speed you should see when printing text or other documents that need little to no processing. On our business applications suite (timed with QualityLogic’s hardware and software), the printer managed a suitably fast 11.8ppm with its default setting for duplex (two-sided) printing, and an even faster 13.4ppm when I set it for simplex (one-sided) printing. That makes it convincingly faster than the Brother HL-5450DN, at 10.8ppm in simplex mode, or the Brother HL-5470DW, at an essentially identical 10.7ppm.

The S2810dn also delivers more-than-acceptable output quality across the board. Text is at the high end of the range that includes most monochrome lasers, making it good enough for virtually any use short of serious desktop publishing.

Graphics are at the high end of average, making the output easily suitable even for PowerPoint handouts and the like, as long as you consider monochrome output suitable at all. As with most monochrome lasers, photo output is good enough for printing photos on webpages with recognizable images, but not for anything more demanding than that.

Conclusion
If there’s any possibility that your print needs may increase to the point of needing a higher paper capacity, either the Brother HL-5450DN or the Brother HL-5470DW is likely a better choice than the S2810dn. Even if you won’t need a higher capacity, you might still prefer the Brother HL-5450DN over the S2810dn because of its lower price. Likewise, you might prefer the Brother HL-5470DW over the S2810dn for its lower price, plus its built-in Wi-Fi.

If you’re sure you won’t need the higher capacity the Brother printers offer, however, the Dell Smart Printer – S2810dn is a strong candidate. Its fast speed justifies its higher price compared with the Brother printers, it delivers essentially the same level of output quality, and it even offers a slightly higher standard paper capacity than either Brother model. The combination makes the S2810dn a close second to the Brother HL-5450DN overall, and a great choice as a workhorse monochrome laser printer.

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HP Color LaserJet Enterprise M553dn

BY TONY HOFFMAN

The HP Color LaserJet Enterprise M553dn ($599) leaves off a few of the extras found in the HP Color LaserJet Enterprise M553x$1,199.99 at HP—the new high-end model in the company’s 500 series of single-function color laser printers—but it comes in at a much more moderate price. The M553dn$599.99 at HP is an impressive beast, combining very good speed with superb output quality and an ample feature set. It is considerably faster than the HP LaserJet Enterprise 500 Color Printer M551dn$823.47 at Mwave.com, which it is replacing, both in HP’s line and as our Editors’ Choice color laser printer for medium- to heavy-duty use in a small to midsize office.

Design and Features
The M553dn measures 15.7 by 18 by 18.9 inches (HWD), so you’ll probably want to put it on a table of its own, and it weighs 60.6 pounds. It helps to have two people to move it into place. The standard paper capacity for the M553dn is 650 sheets, split between a 550-sheet tray and a 100-sheet multipurpose feeder. The printer comes with an automatic duplexer for printing on both sides of a sheet of paper. Up to three optional 550-sheet paper trays ($299.99 each) can be added, for a maximum paper capacity of 2,300 sheets.

In the M553dn’s top-right-front corner is a four-line LED, tilted for easy viewing, plus an alphanumeric keypad. On the printer’s right side, just below the top, is a port for a USB thumb drive.

The M553dn offers USB and Ethernet connectivity. It does not offer 802.11 Wi-Fi or a NFC/Wireless Direct module, the latter which the HP M553x has, although you can still print to it from mobile devices if it is on a network with a wireless access point. To that end, it supports HP ePrint and Apple AirPrint, and is Mopria-certified. Printer drivers include PCL5, PCL6, and HP’s PostScript emulation. The latter is useful because although most offices don’t need PostScript for printing, some can’t do without it. I tested the M553dn over an Ethernet connection with drivers installed on a computer running Windows Vista.

Two other models fill out HP’s M553 series. The aforementioned HP M553x adds a second 550-sheet paper tray, plus an NFC/Wireless Direct module, and instead of having a color touch screen, it has a four-line LED and keypad. The HP M553n ($449.99) is the same as the M553dn, but lacks the auto-duplexer.

Print Speed
I timed the M553dn on our business applications suite (using QualityLogic’s hardware and software for timing), at 12.2 pages per minute (ppm). That’s a good speed, considering its 40ppm rated speed for both color and black-and-white printing that’s based on printing text documents without graphics or photos—our test suite includes text pages, graphics pages, and pages with mixed content. It’s effectively tied with the HP M553x, which we timed at 12.4ppm, just a single second across all the tests separating the two printers. It beat the HP M551dn, our Editors’ Choice medium- to heavy-duty color laser printer for small to midsize offices, which is rated at 33ppm and which tested at 9ppm. The Dell C3760dn Color Laser Printer$499.99 at Dell, rated at just 23ppm, tested at 7.9ppm.

Output Quality
The M553dn’s output quality is above average, with excellent graphics, above-par text, and slightly above-par photos. Text should be good enough for any business use, even those that require tiny fonts.

With graphics, colors are bright and well saturated. There were no significant issues in our tests, and the output should be fine for PowerPoint handouts going to clients or colleagues you are seeking to impress. With photos, one test print had slight posterization (sudden shifts of color where they should be gradual), and our one monochrome test image showed a slight trace of tinting, but the rest of the test prints approached true photo quality. Taken together, the M553dn’s text, graphics, and photos should be good enough for printing marketing handouts or trifold brochures.

Running Costs
The M553dn has reasonably low running costs of 1.7 cents per monochrome page and 10.9 cents per color page, matching those of the HP M553x.

The M553dn sells for much less than the HP M553x, but includes most of that printer’s features, only lacking the latter’s touch screen, second paper tray, and NFC and HP Wireless Direct connectivity. If you must have these features, you could either go with the HP M553x, or get the M553dn and buy the paper tray ($299) and/or the HP JetDirect 3000W wireless module when it is released later this year at a price yet to be announced, and probably save a good bit of money. (The touch screen is not available separately).

Even without any of the extras, the HP Color LaserJet Enterprise M553dn is a formidable color laser and a great value, a worthy successor to the HP M551dn as our Editors’ Choice. Not only is it priced to sell, and has relatively low running costs, its output quality is good enough that it can save you the cost of having to hire a print shop for most of your marketing materials.

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Ricoh SP 4510SF

BY M. DAVID STONE

By most measures, the Ricoh SP 4510SF ($1,099) is one of the more capable monochrome multifunction printers (MFPs) in its price class. Suitable for heavy-duty use in a small office or medium-duty use in a midsize office or workgroup, it’s built around an LED engine, which makes it essentially identical to a laser printer except that it uses LEDs rather than a laser to draw the image of each page on its drum. Its front-panel touch-screen menu is badly in need of a redesign, but if you don’t mind investing the time to make sense of the menu, the SP 4510SF$740.00 at Amazon has a lot to recommend it.

Like both the Xerox WorkCentre 3615/DN$766.85 at Amazon, which is our Editors’ Choice in this category, and the HP LaserJet Pro MFP M521dn$582.12 at Amazon, which is another top pick, the SP 4510SF offers a full set of basic MFP features. It can print and fax from, as well as scan to, a computer over a network, and it can work as a standalone copier and fax machine, with support for standard faxing over a phone line and both Internet fax (for sending faxes over the Internet) and IP fax (for sending faxes over a company Intranet).

Beyond that, the SP 4510SF can send scanned documents as email attachments without a computer, automatically forward incoming faxes as email attachments, and scan directly to an SD memory card or a USB memory key using PDF, TIFF, or JPG format. If you add the optional hard drive ($300), which was not included with our test unit, it can also let you view scanned images on the 4.3-inch color touch screen and print files from a memory card or USB key, reading the same three formats it can scan to.

Going Beyond the Basics
Still more features worth noting include the ability to print through the cloud and the ability to both print from and scan to Android and iOS devices through an access point on your network. The SP 4510SF offers an assortment of features of most interest to a larger office or enterprise workgroup, like the ability to require a password or a card swipe—using one of the printer’s optional card readers ($229 to $299)—before printing a document.

The one important shortcoming for the SP 4510SF is the touch-screen menu, which is filled with choices that are obscure at best. The steps for scanning to a USB memory key, for example, include navigating a path through menu options labeled “Send Settings” and “Store File.” Once you learn how to decode the options, using the menu is easy enough, but Ricoh would do well to rework the menu logic and option names to make them easier to follow.

Also note that that the printer can’t fax from or scan to a PC over a USB connection. Both features work only over a network. That’s unusual, but shouldn’t be a problem, since it’s unlikely that any office would get a printer with this much capability and not share it on a network.

Paper Handling
The SP 4510SF’s paper handling counts as a strong point, with a duplexer (for two-sided printing) and 600-sheet paper capacity standard, divided into a 500-sheet main tray and a 100-sheet multipurpose tray. You can also add up to two additional drawers, with a choice of either 500-sheet ($305 each) or 250-sheet ($169 each) drawers in any combination. That works out to a maximum total 1,600-sheet capacity, which is less than the Xerox 3615/DN’s maximum of 2,350 sheets, but still easily enough for most midsize offices.

For scanning, the printer offers both a letter-size flatbed and a 50-sheet automatic document feeder (ADF), which can handle up to legal-size paper and can duplex by scanning one side of the page, turning it over, and then scanning the other. For copying, the combination of duplex printing and duplexing ADF lets you copy both single- and double-sided originals to your choice of single- or double-sided copies.

Keep in mind that a duplexing ADF isn’t as fast as a duplexing scanner, like the one in the HP M521dn, which scans both sides of the page at the same time. However being able to scan two-sided pages easily is a lot better than being limited to simplex (one-sided) scanning only.

Setup and Speed
The SP 4510SF measures 19 by 16.5 by 16.8 inches (HWD), making it far too big to share a desk with comfortably, and it weighs 50.6 pounds, which makes handling it a two-person job. However, that’s typical for this class of MFP. Setup is standard fare. For my tests I connected the printer to a network using its Ethernet port and installed the drivers on a system running Windows Vista.

The printer’s speed isn’t particularly impressive, but it’s not slow enough to consider it a problem. Ricoh rates it at 42ppm, which is the speed you should see printing in simplex mode with a text document or other file that doesn’t need much processing. However, I timed it on our business applications suite (using QualityLogic’s hardware and software for timing) at 7.1ppm in its default duplex setting and 8.8ppm in simplex mode. That makes it a bit slower than the Xerox 3615/DN, which came in at 10ppm in simplex mode. However it’s faster than the HP M521dn, which managed only 5.3ppm in simplex mode.

Output Quality and Running Cost
The SP 4510SF’s output quality is another strong point, with text and photos that are both a little better than what most monochrome MFPs can manage, and graphics quality that’s at the top of a tight range that includes the vast majority of monochrome MFPs.

The text quality isn’t quite good enough for high-quality desktop publishing applications, but it offers highly readable, well-formed characters even at small font sizes, making it easily good enough for any business need. Graphics output is suitable for any internal business use and even good enough for PowerPoint handouts or the like, assuming you consider black-and-white output acceptable. Photo output is equivalent to good-quality newspaper photos.

The printer also earns points for its low running cost. With its highest-capacity cartridge, it offers a claimed cost of 1.1 cents per page, or 0.6 cents less per page than the claimed cost for the Xerox 3615/DN. That translates to a $60 savings for every 10,000 pages you print. Print just 20,000 pages per year, or 80 pages per working day, and you’ll save $600 in five years compared with the Xerox model.

If you can make good use of a bit higher paper capacity than the Ricoh SP 4510SF offers, or you aren’t willing to accept front-panel commands that take effort to understand, be sure to consider the Xerox 3615/DN and the HP M521dn. If you don’t need a higher paper capacity, however, and aren’t bothered by the thought of having to learn the printer’s idiosyncratic menu logic, the SP 4510SF’s more-than-acceptable speed, above-par output quality, and impressively long list of MFP features make it an attractive choice.

original article

Ricoh SP 4510DN

BY M. DAVID STONE

Clearly designed as a workhorse monochrome printer for a small to midsize office or workgroup, the Ricoh SP 4510DN ($725) delivers a suitable level of paper handling for the job and better output quality than much of the competition. Although it uses LEDs rather than a laser for drawing the image of each page on its drum, it uses the same technology otherwise, making it fully comparable to laser printers. It was a little slower in our tests than you might expect for the 42 page-per-minute (ppm) engine rating, but for offices that are more concerned with how good the pages look than with how quickly they print, it’s an excellent choice.

The SP 4510DNBest Price at Amazon is essentially in the same class as the Dell B3460dn$549.99 at Dell, which is our Editors’ Choice monochrome laser for heavy-duty use in a small office or moderate use in a midsize office or workgroup. The Dell model delivers significantly better speed, but the Ricoh printer delivers better output quality. Assuming you connect it to a network, it also offers support for printing through the cloud and for both printing from and scanning to Android and iOS devices through an access point on the network.

The Dell B3460dn offers the higher paper capacity of the two, but the SP 4510DN’s paper handling is good enough to count as a strong point. The printer comes with a 500-sheet main tray, a 100-sheet multipurpose tray, and a duplexer (for two-sided printing) standard. You can also add up to two additional trays with capacities of either 500 sheets ($305 each) or 250 sheets ($169 each) in any combination. The maximum total of 1,600 sheets is easily enough for most midsize offices, but less than the Dell B3460dn’s 2,300-sheet maximum.

One other notable option for the SP 4510DN is a hard drive ($300), which wasn’t in the review unit. According to Ricoh, adding the hard drive adds private printing, letting you send a job to the printer, but not print it until you enter a PIN code at the front panel. The drive also lets you store forms you use repeatedly on it, so you can print them on demand from the front panel.

Setup and Speed
The SP 4510DN is a typical size and weight for the category, at 12 by 14.6 by 15.4 inches (HWD) and 34.2 pounds. Setup is absolutely standard, with a choice of USB or Ethernet connections and the option to add a parallel port ($134) or Wi-Fi ($400). For my tests, I connected it to a wired network and installed the driver on a Windows Vista system.

The rated speed of 42 pages per minute (ppm) is what you should see when printing a text file, with little or no formatting in simplex (one-sided) mode. On our business applications suite, however (using QualityLogic’s hardware and software for timing), I clocked the printer at 6.9ppm in its default duplex setting and 8ppm in simplex (one-sided) mode. That makes it a lot slower than the Dell B3460dn at 15.3ppm in its default simplex mode.

It’s not even hard to find less expensive printers with faster speeds. For example, the Dell B2360d$149.99 at Amazon, which is our preferred pick for medium-duty use in a small office, managed 15ppm on our tests (also in simplex mode). Overall, the SP 4510DN’s speed is acceptable, but a little slow for both the price and engine rating.

Output Quality
A key saving grace for the SP 4510DN—but not the only one—is its output quality. Text and photo quality are both a step above par for a monochrome laser printer, and graphics quality is at the top of a tight range that includes the vast majority of monochrome lasers.

For text, that translates to highly readable, well-formed characters even at small font sizes, although the output is just short of being suitable for high-quality desktop publishing. Graphics output is easily good enough for any internal business use, including PowerPoint handouts, assuming you consider black-and-white output acceptable at all. Photo output is equivalent to good-quality photos in a newspaper.

Also in the SP 4510DN’s favor is its low running cost. Its highest-capacity cartridge offers a 12,000-page yield and a claimed cost of just 1.1 cents per page—a savings of 0.5 cents for each page compared with the Dell B3460. That may not sound like a lot, but it adds up to a $50 savings for every 10,000 pages. Print just 20,000 pages per year, or 80 pages per working day—which isn’t much for a workhorse printer in a medium-size office—and you’ll save $500 over five years compared with the Dell B3460.

If you don’t need particularly high-quality output, be sure to consider the Dell B3460dn for its fast speed and high paper capacity along with output that’s easily suitable for most business needs. But also consider whether the speed and paper capacity outweighs the Ricoh SP 4510DN’s low running cost. Beyond that, if you need the SP 4510DN’s high-quality output, it will almost certainly be the better fit in any case.

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How to Print to an HP 4000 Series Printer Without a Parallel Port

by Soroush Madjzoob

You have just unpacked your brand spanking new laptop only to find that it doesn’t support a connection to your older HP 4000 series printer – now what?

Related: The Five Reasons Dell Beats HP in the Technology Market 

It used to be that parallel ports and COM ports were standard issue on every computer; no matter the manufacturer.  Today however, with ever shrinking footprints of PCs and a shift towards mobile computing, there is a race to miniaturize as much as possible!

And with the advent of the USB port, you can’t blame the computer industry for doing away with the large (space consuming) Parallel and COMs ports!  This does produce a dilemma for most users trying to hang on to their investment in HP printers that don’t have a USB port.

No worries, there is still a way to connect to your HP 4000 series printers that don’t have a USB port; actually two ways!  These older, work horse printers, all have an EIO port or Expansion Input/Output port; which allows you to plug-in different types of add-on modules.

If you’re using your printer in an office environment, you can network-enable your printer; giving access to users that you want to share the printer.  You can start with the basic HP JETDIRECT 620N (J7934G), which runs at 10/100 transfer speeds, or kick it up a notch to a HP JETDIRECT 630N (J7997G) print server, which runs at gigabit speeds; or just go all out and get a wireless version like the HP JETDIRECT 380X WIRELESS PRINT SERVER (J6061A); each for under $100!

Related: Why PCs, Intel, Qualcomm, NVIDIA, QNX, Dell, Panasonic, and Jaguar Won CES

If you’re using the printer in a more personal setting, say at home, you can try using a J4135a JetDirect card that gives you USB and Apple LocalTalk expansion options. You could also try buying a USB to parallel cable but those solutions are not always 100% effective.

Any of the above solutions give you a very inexpensive solution to continue to get a return on your HP 4000 printer investment.

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Brother HL-L2300D

BY M. DAVID STONE

The Brother HL-L2300D monochrome laser printer($119.99) is small enough to sit on your desk without taking up a lot of space and is limited to connecting via USB cable. The combination defines it as a personal printer for any size office. Despite the small form, however, it delivers a level of paper handling that would be suitable for sharing. Add in its fast speed and more-than-acceptable output quality, and it’s an easy pick as our Editors’ Choice low-cost, personal monochrome laser printer.

When it comes to paper handling, the HL-L2300D$79.99 at Amazon delivers a point-for-point match with the Samsung Xpress M2625D$98.99 at Amazon, another top pick. Both models offer a 250-sheet tray, a one-sheet manual feed, and a built-in duplexer (for two-sided printing). This should easily be enough for even heavy-duty use by personal printer standards.

Almost as important as the paper handling is the small size. The HL-L2300D weighs just 15 pounds, making it easy for one person to move into place, and it measures 7.2 by 14 by 14.2 inches (HWD). That gives it a slightly lower weight and size than the Samsung model, which is always a plus for anything that you plan to share your desk with.

Setup, Speed, and Output Quality
Setup is standard for a USB-connected monochrome laser. For my tests, I connected it to a system running Windows Vista. The printer’s engine rating is 27 pages per minute (ppm), which is the speed you should see when printing a text document or other file that needs little to no processing. I clocked it on our business applications suite (using QualityLogic’s hardware and software for timing), at 9.3ppm, which is a respectable speed for the price and engine rating, and just a touch slower than the Samsung M2625D’s 9.9pm. The HL-L2300D is essentially tied with the Brother HL-L2340DW$119.98 at Amazon, which is a similar model with Wi-Fi and Wi-Fi Direct added.

Output quality for the HL-L2300D is just a touch below par overall, with text and graphics both a step below the ranges that include the vast majority of monochrome lasers. For text, that still translates to being good enough for virtually any business use, as long as you don’t have an unusual need for small fonts. For graphics, it makes the output easily good enough for any internal business needs, but not good enough for most people to consider it suitable for PowerPoint handouts or the like.

Photo quality is typical for a monochrome laser. You can certainly print recognizable images from photos on webpages, for example, but don’t plan on using the printer for anything more demanding than that.

If you want the convenience of being able to print wirelessly from your phone or tablet using a printer that’s connected to a single PC, you should take a look at somewhat more expensive models that support Wi-Fi Direct, like the Brother HL-L2340DW and the Samsung Xpress M2835DWBest Price at Amazon. If you simply want to print from a PC connected via USB cable, however, the HL-L2300D delivers a balance of speed, paper handling, output quality, size, and price that makes it an excellent candidate for a personal monochrome laser printer and our Editors’ Choice in the category.

original article

Brother MFC-L2720DW

BY M. DAVID STONE

Whether you need a monochrome laser multifunction printer (MFP) for personal or shared use, the Brother MFC-L2720DW ($249.99) can be a good fit, both literally and figuratively. It’s small enough so it won’t take up much room, and it delivers paper handling and speed suitable for up to moderate-duty use in a micro office. It doesn’t offer quite enough to make it our favorite in its category, but if your needs include Wi-Fi Direct support or the ability to scan to websites and email attachments without a computer, the MFC-L2720DW is worth serious consideration.

Compared with the Canon imageClass MF227dw$155.35 at Amazon, our Editors’ Choice heavy-duty personal or light- to moderate-duty monochrome laser MFP, the MFC-L2720DW$161.67 at Amazon is slower and delivers a touch lower text quality, although the quality is still good enough for most business use. On the other hand, it matches the Canon printer for paper handling, and it offers some features that the Canon printer lacks.

Among the MFC-L2720DW’s more notable extras are the ability to scan and send email directly without needing a PC, and support for Wi-Fi direct, which lets you connect to it from a mobile device even if the printer isn’t on a network. If you can make good use of these features, they can easily make up for the Canon printer’s advantages in text quality and speed.

Paper Handling, Basics, and Extras
As with the Canon MF227DW, the MFC-L2720DW’s suitability for use as a shared printer rests solidly on its paper handling. Both models offer a 250-sheet main tray, a single-sheet manual feed, and a duplexer (for two-sided printing). That should be enough for most micro offices, but if you need more, you’ll have to look elsewhere, since no paper handling upgrades are available in either case.

Both models also offer the same paper handling for scanning, each with a letter-size flatbed and a 35-sheet automatic document feeder (ADF) for up to legal-size paper. Neither ADF can scan or copy in duplex, however. If you need duplex scanning, the Brother MFC-L2740DW$189.99 at Amazon, which is similar to the MFC-L2720DW in most ways, adds duplexing, with its scanner able to scan both sides of the page at the same time.

Basic MFP features for the MFC-L2720DW include the ability to print and fax from, as well as scan to, a PC and the ability to work as a standalone copier and fax machine. Extras include its ability to send scans as email attachments without needing a PC, its support for mobile printing, and its Web-related features.

If you connect the printer to a network via Ethernet or Wi-Fi, you can connect through an access point on the network to print from and scan to a tablet or smartphone, as well as print though the cloud, assuming the printer is connected to the Internet. Connect to a single PC via USB cable instead, and you won’t be able to print through the cloud, but you can still connect directly to print or scan, thanks to the printer’s Wi-Fi Direct.

You can both print from and scan to a variety of websites (including Dropbox, Google Drive, Evernote, and OneDrive) using the 2.7-inch touch screen on the MFP’s front panel. You can also scan to a choice of file formats and save the file to a cloud site or send it as an email attachment without needing a computer. Even better, if you scan to Word, Excel, PowerPoint, or searchable PDF format, the printer will automatically use Brother’s servers in the cloud to recognize scanned text as part of the process, which is a particularly impressive feature that can come in handy

Setup, Speed, and Output Quality
Setup is typical for the breed. At 12.5 by 16.1 by 15.7 inches (HWD) and weighing 25 pounds 6 ounces, the MFC-L2720DW is light enough for one person to carry, and small enough so it won’t take up a lot of space. For my tests, I connected it using its Ethernet port and installed the software on a system running Windows Vista.

Brother rates the printer at 30 pages per minute (ppm), which is the speed you should see when printing text documents with little or no formatting. I timed it on our business applications suite (using QualityLogic’s hardware and software for timing) at 9.6ppm, which makes it essentially tied with the Brother MFC-L2740DW. However, it’s significantly slower than the Canon MF227dw’s 13ppm for printing in simplex (one-sided) mode, and its speed for simplex mode is effectively tied with the Canon’s 9.7ppm for printing in duplex.

The MFC-L2720DW’s output quality is good enough for most business needs, but not particularly impressive. Text is at the low end of the range that includes the vast majority of monochrome laser MFPs. That translates to being good enough for almost any business use, but well short of what you’d want for, say, high-quality desktop publishing.

Graphics output is a touch below par, making it easily good enough for any internal business use, but not something you’d want to hand out to a client or customer who you’re trying to impress with a sense of your professionalism. Photo quality is typical for a monochrome laser, making it good enough to print recognizable images from photos on webpages, but not suitable for anything more demanding than that.

If you need an MFP that can copy and scan in duplex, be sure to consider the Brother MFC-L2740DW or the Canon imageClass MF229dw$199.99 at Amazon, which is similar to the Canon MF227DW with a duplexing ADF added. If you don’t need to scan in duplex, take a look at the Canon MF227dw, which offers both faster speed and better text quality than the Brother MFC-L2720DW. However, if you can make good use of the Brother printer’s Wi-Fi Direct support, its ability to scan to Web sites and email attachments without a computer, or its ability to scan to specific file formats complete with text recognition, the MFC-L2720DW should be on your short list.

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Xerox Phaser 3260/DNI

BY M. DAVID STONE

The Xerox Phaser 3260/DNI ($209) is a little different from most monochrome laser printers in its price range. It’s meant as a personal printer or for shared use in a micro office, but instead of focusing on paper handling and running cost, like most of its competition, its strength is its output quality. If high quality is your key concern, and particularly if you have relatively light-duty print needs, that can make it your preferred choice.

In essence, the 3260/DNI$159.00 at Amazon is a variation on the Xerox Phaser 3260/DI$159.00 at WalMart at a little higher price and with Ethernet added as an alternative to Wi-Fi for connecting to a network. The Ethernet connector makes the printer a little more appropriate than its near-twin for sharing in an office. It also makes it more directly competitive with the OKI B412dn$199.98 at Amazon, and the Brother HL-5450DN$147.99 at Amazon, which is our current Editors’ Choice medium- to heavy-duty monochrome laser for personal use or for shared printing in a micro office.

Aside from the lack of an Ethernet connector in the Xerox 3260/DI, the two key differentiators among these four models are paper handling and running cost. All four include a 250-sheet paper tray and duplexer (for two-sided printing) as standard. Beyond that, the two Xerox printers offer only a single-sheet manual feed with no upgrade options. Both the OKI and Brother models include multipurpose trays as standard, for paper capacities of 300 sheets or more, and both offer additional options, boosting their maximum total capacities to 800 pages or more.

The OKI and Brother printers also have the advantage on running cost, claiming roughly 2 cents per page in each case. Both Xerox printers have a claimed cost of 3.4 cents per page, a difference that works out to well over $100 for 10,000 pages. Depending on how much you print, you could easily save enough with the OKI B412dn or Brother HL-5450DN to cover the initial price of the printer. And the more you print, the more costly either Xerox model will be over its lifetime compared with printing the same set of pages with the OKI or Brother printers.

Basics, Setup, and Speed
Like the Xerox 3260/DI, the 3260/DNI offers mobile printing, but it’s limited to support for Apple AirPrint and for printing through the cloud. If you connect the printer to a network by either Wi-Fi or Ethernet, you can print to it through a Wi-Fi access point on the network using AirPrint from iOS phones and tablets, as well as Apple computers that support AirPrint. If you connect to a single PC via USB cable instead of connecting to a network, you won’t be able to print through the cloud. However, you can still print using AirPrint, by taking advantage of the 3260/DNI’s Wi-Fi Direct to connect directly to the printer.

Setup is standard. The printer weighs only 16 pounds 13 ounces, making it easy for one person to move into place, and it’s small enough to fit on your desk easily at 8.4 by 14.5 by 13.2 inches (HWD). For my tests, I connected it to a network by Ethernet and installed the driver on a Windows Vista system.

Xerox rates the 3260/DNI at 29 pages per minute (ppm) in simplex mode, but the driver installs to print in duplex (two-sided) mode by default. On our business applications suite, I clocked the printer (using QualityLogic’s hardware and software for timing) at a respectable, but not impressive, 7.2ppm in duplex mode and 8.9ppm in simplex mode, essentially tied with the Xerox 3260/DI in both cases. For simplex mode, it’s a touch slower than the OKI B412dn (9.6ppm), and slower still when compared with the Brother HL-5450DN(10.8ppm).

Output Quality
Output quality is one of the 3260/DNI’s strongest points, with text quality in the middle of a fairly tight range that includes most models, top-tier graphics, and photo quality that’s close to top tier.

For text, that translates to being good enough for nearly any business use, although not quite suitable for high-quality desktop publishing applications. Graphics output is easily good enough for any business need where monochrome output is appropriate, including, for example, PowerPoint handouts and the like. Similarly, photo output is equal to or better than most monochrome lasers can manage. That makes it good enough for, say, anyone who still prints newsletters, instead of sending them as PDF files.

Unless you can take good advantage of the Xerox Phaser 3260/DNI’s high-quality output, you’ll probably be better off with the OKI B412dn or the Brother HL-5450DN, with their higher paper capacities and lower costs per page. Similarly, if output quality is a key consideration, but you don’t need to connect by Ethernet, you can save a little on initial cost by getting the Xerox 3260/DI. If output quality matters, however, and you need to—or simply prefer to—connect to a network by Ethernet instead of Wi-Fi, the 3260/DNI is the obvious choice.

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Xerox Phaser 3260/DI

BY M. DAVID STONE

If output quality is your primary consideration for a personal monochrome laser printer or a shared laser in a micro office, the Xerox Phaser 3260/DI ($189) may be the one you want. It’s easy to find competing models that beat it for speed, paper handling, or running cost, but the 3260/DI$159.00 at WalMart stands out in its price class for its output quality overall, and particularly for graphics.

Obvious head-to-head competitors include the OKI B412dn$199.98 at Amazon that I recently reviewed, and the Brother HL-5450DN$147.99 at Amazon, which is our Editors’ Choice medium- to heavy-duty monochrome laser for personal use or for shared printing in a micro office or workgroup. All three are small enough to sit on your desk without taking up a lot of room, but capable enough to share among several users.

Unlike the OKI and Brother models, the 3260/DI lacks an Ethernet connector, which means you can’t connect it directly to a wired network. However, it supports Wi-Fi, so you can connect it through an access point. A more important difference is that the 3260/DI doesn’t match either the OKI or Brother printers for paper handling. All three offer a 250-sheet paper tray and duplexer (for two-sided printing) standard. However, the 3260/DI supplements that with only a single-sheet manual feed. The OKI and Brother printers both include multipurpose trays, with a 50-sheet capacity for the OKI B412dn and a 100-sheet capacity for the Brother HL-5450DN. Both also let you upgrade to a total capacity of 800 pages or more. The 3260/DI doesn’t offer any additional trays. If you need more capacity, you’ll have to look elsewhere.

Another key difference is running cost. The claimed cost per page for both the OKI B412dn and the Brother HL-5450DN is about 2 cents. Xerox puts the cost per page for the 3260/DI at 3.4 cents. The difference works out to well over $100 per 10,000 pages. Depending on how much you print, you could easily save enough in running cost with either the OKI or Brother printer to pay for the initial price of the printer.

Basics, Setup, and Speed
Like more and more printers, the 3260/DI offers mobile printing, although it’s limited to support for Apple AirPrint and for printing though the cloud. If you connect the printer to a network, you can print to it from iOS smartphones and tablets—as well as Apple computers that support AirPrint—over your Wi-Fi access point. If you choose to connect to a single PC via USB cable instead, you won’t be able to print through the cloud, but you can still take advantage of the printer’s Wi-Fi Direct support to connect to it directly and print using AirPrint.

Setup is typical for the breed. At 8.4 by 14.5 by 13.2 inches (HWD), the 3260/DI is small enough to share a desk with comfortably, and at 16 pounds 13 ounces, it’s easy for one person to move into place. For my tests, I connected it to a Windows Vista system by USB cable.

Xerox’s rates the engine at 29 pages per minute (ppm) in simplex (one-sided printing) mode, but the driver installs to print in duplex mode by default. (Xerox doesn’t provide a rating for duplex printing.) I timed it on our business applications suite (using QualityLogic’s hardware and software for timing) at a respectable, but not impressive, 9.2ppm in simplex and 7.1ppm in duplex. That makes it essentially tied with the OKI B412dn, at 9.6ppm for simplex, and just a touch slower than the Brother HL-5450DN, at 10.8ppm.

Output Quality
The saving grace for the 3260/DI, and the main reason to consider it, is its output quality. Text is in the middle of a fairly tight range that most monochrome laser printers fall in, making it not quite good enough for high-quality desktop publishing, but easily suitable for any other business use.

Graphics output is in the top tier for monochrome lasers, which also translates to being good enough for any business need where monochrome output is appropriate. Unless you need color, it’s easily good enough for PowerPoint handouts and the like. Similarly, photo output is better than most monochrome lasers can manage, making it suitable for, say, newsletters, if you’re inclined to print your newsletters instead of sending them electronically.

If you don’t need particularly high-quality output, either the OKI B412dn or Brother HL-5450DN is likely to be a better fit, with the Editors’ Choice Brother HL-5450DN offering faster speed and better text quality, and the OKI B412dn offering a slightly lower claimed cost per page and slightly better paper handling. If your primary concern is output quality, however, particularly for graphics and photos, and you don’t mind the higher running cost, the Xerox Phaser 3260/DI is a more than reasonable choice, and can easily be the best fit.

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