HP Colour LaserJet Pro MFP M277dw

Tech Advisor - - CONTENTS - Cliff Joseph

Colour laser prin­ters used to be enor­mously ex­pen­sive, and were gen­er­ally only found in larger busi­nesses that were pre­pared to pay for the speed and qual­ity pro­vided by laser tech­nol­ogy. How­ever, costs have fallen dramatical­ly in re­cent years and, at just £258, HP’s new LaserJet Pro MFP M277dw is af­ford­able enough even for small busi­nesses and self-em­ployed in­di­vid­u­als who work from home.

It’s also rel­a­tively com­pact by the stan­dards of tra­di­tional of­fice laser prin­ters, mea­sur­ing just 420mm wide, 322mm high and 417mm deep. That’s not much larger than an or­di­nary inkjet printer, although it does weigh a hefty 16.3kg, so you’ll need a sturdy desk or ta­ble to rest it on.

De­spite its com­pact de­sign, the M277dw man­ages to cram in an im­pres­sive range of fea­tures, in­clud­ing a 600dpi laser printer, 1200dpi scan­ner and copier, and 300dpi fax ma­chine. There’s a 150-sheet pa­per tray in the base of the unit, along with a man­ual in­put slot that al­lows you to in­sert in­di­vid­ual en­velopes or sheets of photo pa­per. It sup­ports au­to­matic du­plex (dou­ble-sided) print­ing, and there’s a 50-sheet au­to­matic doc­u­ment feeder stacked on the top, so the M277dw pro­vides most of the fea­tures that small busi­ness users are likely to need.

You don’t have to spend much time set­ting it up ei­ther, as the M277dw ar­rives ‘fully loaded’ – with the four-toner coloured toner car­tridges al­ready in­stalled – so all you have to do is in­stall the printer soft­ware from the CD-ROM in the box. There’s a USB in­ter­face for a di­rect con­nec­tion to a PC or Mac, as well as both eth­er­net and 802.11n Wi-Fi for con­nect­ing to your home or of­fice net­work. It sup­ports Ap­ple’s AirPrint for iOS de­vices, and there’s an HP ePrint app avail­able for An­droid users, too. Even the touch­sen­si­tive con­trol panel works well, re­spond­ing quickly and smoothly to a flick of your fin­ger as you scroll through the var­i­ous menu op­tions.

You can, of course, get a sim­i­lar range of fea­tures from many low-cost inkjet prin­ters, but the real ad­van­tage of laser tech­nol­ogy is its speed and qual­ity. HP quotes a speed of 18 pages per minute for both mono and colour print­ing, but our tests pro­duced re­sults of 15ppm for mono and 13ppm for colour. Even so, that’s still faster than most inkjet prin­ters that we’ve seen in this price range.

Text qual­ity is ex­cel­lent, with smooth, finely de­tailed text that most inkjet prin­ters will strug­gle to match. Colour graph­ics are very good too, so the M277dw will be a good choice for re­ports and pre­sen­ta­tions work. Our only mi­nor com­plaint is that photo out­put was a lit­tle dis­ap­point­ing. It took only one minute to print a full A4 photo, but our test prints were rather dark and dull when us­ing plain of­fice pa­per, and we’ve seen bet­ter re­sults when us­ing inkjet prin­ters with plain pa­per. If you want to print high qual­ity pho­tos for mar­ket­ing brochures or pre­sen­ta­tions, then you’ll need to use more ex­pen­sive photo-pa­per, which works out at about 7p per sheet.

Print­ing costs aren’t too bad, although it’s much cheaper to buy the car­tridges from third-party on­line re­tail­ers rather than di­rect from HP it­self. If you use HP’s high-yield XL toner car­tridges, you’ll find that mono print­ing works out at about 2.2p per page, while colour print­ing comes to 9p per page. That’s in line with many inkjet prin­ters, although the greater speed and su­pe­rior text qual­ity of the M277dw gives it an edge over most of its inkjet ri­vals for of­fice use.

Ver­dict

If you’re look­ing for a high-qual­ity photo printer, then inkjet prin­ters still have the edge there. How­ever, the M277dw pro­vides ex­cel­lent text qual­ity and busi­ness graph­ics, and will make a good work­horse printer for smaller of­fices that need to pro­duce high qual­ity busi­ness doc­u­ments.

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