Printer: HP Color LaserJet Pro MFP M177fw

The all-black HP stands out from the sea of grey and beige printers.

From a distance, its compact chassis looks like brushed metal, although upon closer examination, it can be seen that it is made of plastic. There are no buttons to spoil the clean look - everything goes through a sturdy 3-inch touchscreen.

The HP prints beautifully for a laser printer of its class. However, it works at a leisurely pace, which will not cut it in a busy office.

HP promises printing of up to 17 pages a minute for black-and-white documents.

That "up to" in my tests worked out to be between four and five pages a minute. It produced four colour print-outs a minute, which, at least, matches the advertised speed.

However, in terms of print quality, the HP is the best of the bunch. Colours are vivid and bright. Fonts are sharp and there is almost no banding or graininess. Only the Canon comes close to matching the HP.

Unfortunately, this quality comes at a price: 5.9 cents for each black-and-white print-out, the second most expensive after the Canon (6.4 cents).

A colour page costs about 24 cents, matching the Samsung and Fuji Xerox printers tested here.

However, it is not as affordable as the Brother's 18 cents per colour page.

Then, there is the cost of replacing the laser drum ($110.10) after printing 14,000 black-and-white pages or 7,000 colour pages. Finally, the printer itself is relatively pricey at $629, with bundled toners good for only 500 black-and-white and 500 colour pages.

For what it costs, the HP does not have an impressive list of features. It lacks, for instance, a front-facing USB port, which means it cannot print from, or scan to, an attached USB storage drive.

As with most of the printers here, this one does not do automatic duplex printing, although it is still possible to print manually on both sides. Its 150-sheet paper tray is inadequate if you print a lot.

The HP ePrint mobile app (iOS, Android, BlackBerry) quickly lets you send PDF documents, photos and webpages to the printer when both printer and mobile device are on the same Wi-Fi network. The app scans your mobile device automatically for files and sorts them by type (PDF, Word, Excel and PowerPoint).

Like Canon's mobile app, the HP ePrint app has to upload Microsoft Office documents to HP's servers for conversion before printing. Another flaw: The HP app is limited to printing. Unlike competing print apps, it cannot scan documents and send them wirelessly to your mobile device.

Slow and expensive to operate, the HP is tops for print quality. Suitable for low-volume users. TECH SPECS

Price: $629

Yield: Up to 1,300 standard pages per cartridge (black) and 1,000 pages per cartridge (colour)

Print resolution: Up to 600 x 600 dots per inch

Speed: Up to 17 pages per minute (black), four pages per minute (colour)

Tested speed: Four pages per minute, four pages per minute (colour)

RATING

Features: 3/5

Design: 4/5

Performance: 3/5

Value for money: 3/5

Overall: 3/5


This article was first published on Oct 29, 2014.
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