HP Colour LaserJet Pro MFP M277dw
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.
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.