Top 10 color laser printers

Color laser printers are becoming more affordable, though toner costs can still be a shock

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HP Color LaserJet CP2025n
Color LaserJet CP2025n Review, by Melissa Riofrio, PC World January 27, 2009

Rating:

rating_icon_3_stars.gif

Pros:
Inexpensive; very good print quality
Competent speeds

Cons:
No weekend support
Some pieces rattle and feel cheap

Bottom Line: For the price, you get solid overall performance--but a somewhat less solid-feeling package.

REVIEW:
HP's Color LaserJet CP2025n color laser printer joins an increasingly crowded field of low-cost models for small and home offices. All of them have tradeoffs, but this model has fewer than most. And what it loses in style points, it makes up for in results.

The squat, round-cornered CP2025n offered middling speed but impressive print quality in our tests. HP carefully claims an engine speed of "up to 21 ppm" (pages per minute). The printer came reasonably close, hitting 17.5 ppm when printing plain text. Its graphics speed of 4.2 ppm is pretty good compared with the competition. And the results were generally quite nice: very crisp, black text; fairly natural colors (sometimes tending toward yellow or cyan); and haziness just in some of the finer details, like pinstripes and delicate flowers. Only grayscale photos stymied it, with prints looking greenish, dark, and grainy.

Although the printer's performance should please most people, its design and configuration may not. The control panel--a two-line, monochrome LCD and adjacent navigation buttons--is simple. Its 250-sheet input tray and 150-sheet output tray are adequate; it also has a 50-sheet multipurpose tray. Manual duplexing with prompts is available; you reload sheets into the multipurpose tray, which is unusual but not inconvenient. A second, 250-sheet input tray costs $149. But overall, the parts feel cheap or awkward. Paper-tray markings are minimal. Moveable parts tend to jiggle, wiggle, or rattle. If you extend the input tray to accommodate legal-size media, it sticks out awkwardly.

While some low-cost printers hit you with high toner costs, the Color LaserJet CP2025n commendably restrains itself. Granted, the machine ships with starter-size, 1200-page supplies for black (K), cyan (C), magenta (M), and yellow (Y)--meaning you'll have to buy your full-size replacements sooner. But those replacement prices are pretty good: At the time of this review, a 3500-page black cartridge cost $123, or about 3.5 cents per page, while each 2800-page color cartridge costs $121, or about 4.3 cents per color, resulting in a four-color page cost of about 16.5 cents.

HP offers some nice hand-holding with the printer. The CD-based setup process includes simple animations; there's even a video showing you how to customize the color quality. A utility called HP ToolBoxFX shows network status and offers troubleshooting help. Only the user guide--in HTML--disappointed me: it's light on illustrations, and it offers little useful information on the driver features.

If your budget restricts you to a lower-cost color laser, HP's Color LaserJet CP2025n is one of the best choices currently available. While you lose some robustness, you get plenty of good print quality.

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