The most important PC peripheral in any office – be it a large organisation or a small one – is a printer. Physical documents still need to be printed and some offices have a bulk load of pages produced each day. Any user or organisation that opts for a new printer narrows down the decision based on a few critical aspects of the device. These aspects are print quality, print speed and most importantly, the print cost. Next on the list, and most important to an office, is network printing, scanning and a copier function to save on an additional cost of a photo-copier machine. Last but not the least, a fax function could be optional as emails are now preferred as they are fast and free. This is where an all-in-one unit, especially laser MFPs are preferred. The reason—a single compact unit that can handle all these important tasks, takes up lesser space and can be operated by all users connected on the network. We received an HP LaserJet Pro 200, which is a colour multi-function printer (the MFP M276nw) and here is our opinion about it.
Good build, matte and glossy finished body
Design and Build
The LaserJet Pro 200 is a huge guy—stands tall, looks bulkier, is heavier and takes up a little more space than a conventional all-in-one. The Pro is designed and aimed towards mid-to-large-scale enterprise business offices. Housed in a fantastically built all-black and partially glossy and matte-finished shell, the Pro 200 has a rugged build quality. Unlike the smaller siblings, the paper trays are tough and firm. The top features a letter-sized flatbed scanner with an automatic document feeder (ADF) that can feed up to 35-sheets. Just below the scanner is the output tray, which can hold 125-sheets in the bin. Both the scanner and the output bin take up just around 25 percent of the entire printer, while the rest of the bulk houses the paper mechanism, input tray and the cartridges.
A power button and a USB 2.0 host interface are seen on the front-right alongside the cartridge compartment. A sufficiently large 3.5-inch colour display screen-based control panel is provided to take complete control over the entire printer’s configuration and operation. The control panel comprises a resistive display with capacitive touch controls around it for back, home, help etc. and the top of the panel features LEDs for power and network connectivity indications. The entire control panel is housed in a tilting body, which can be folded down or raised higher according to the user’s preference. Just above the paper tray is a large cartridge bay—pull back the door and a huge tray can be pulled to reveal the toner cartridges. The sheet feeder built with the printer is a single unit and can hold up to 150 sheets or 10 envelopes. You have an option to buy a larger capacity tray to hold more pages if your print volume is higher through the day. A power socket, Ethernet and USB interfaces and telephone jacks take their place on the rear panel that also features a door to access any paper jams.
Colour laser with flatbed scanner and ADF, Fax feature included
The LaserJet Pro 200 M276nw is a colour MFP and features functions such as print, scan, copy and fax. It runs on a 750 MHz processor and is coupled with 256 MB of RAM. The printer uses old-school laser printing technology, which can give out print resolutions at 600 x 800 dpi in black and 600 x 600 dpi in colour modes. Bundled along with the printer is a starter cartridge pack, which can yield around 700 pages. Once empty, the new cartridge will give you around 2400 pages in black, while the colour cartridges can yield around 1800 pages each. The cartridges are available in two variants—'A' and 'x', which are regular and extended yielding cartridges. The Black 'A' cartridge costs around Rs 4,419 and can yield almost 1600 pages, while the colour (CMY) 'A' cartridges cost around Rs 5,537 and can yield approximately 1800 pages each. This gets the estimated cost per print to Rs 3 per print for both black and colour. As far as the print speeds matters, HP claims to produce up to 14 pages per minute in black or colour, however, we did run our tests to check what speeds we achieve. Well, we shall get to the performance of the MFP a little later.
Bulky in size
The printer incorporates a great energy saving feature called HP Auto-On/Auto-Off Technology that turns the printer off when you don’t need it. Using this feature, you do not need to actually switch off the printer physically anymore. Simply fire a print command and the USB wake-up feature will power up the printer, print the document and shut down automatically. Another interesting feature on the energy saving mode is the fuser used in this printer—unlike conventional laser printers that keep the fuser switched on all the time to maintain the toner fusing temperature, this one heats up only when needed and that too, only the area of the drum (that needs the heat) that is physically in contact with the passing paper.
The toner used here is also a low temperature fusing ink that does not need the fuser to heat up as much as other laser printers usually do. This additionally helps reduce the overall energy consumption. Hence, the cartridges used here cannot be refilled using regular laser toner inks that need higher temperatures to fuse to the paper. If refilled, it will end up damaging the fuser and you might get smudgy prints or prints that can be easily wiped-off when handling. The printed pages also do not curl, especially in humid environments—thanks to the low heating fuser technology. The printer has a monthly duty cycle of 30,000 pages, but the manufacturer recommends a volume of 1500 pages.
Four cartridge bay slides out for easy cartridge change
The scanner featured here is a flatbed with ADF type and can scan colour documents and photos with resolutions of up to 1200 x 1200 dpi and bit depth levels of 30-bit. Documents can be scanned and sent to the network PCs or directly saved on a storage drive connected to the USB host port. The scanner can scan at speeds of up to 10 pages per minute using the ADF and formats available are PDF, searchable PDF, JPG, RTF, TXT, BMP, PNG and TIFF. The scanner in combination with the printer makes up the copier section and can produce up to 600 x 600 dpi resolution prints in both black and colour. Reduction, enlargement, 99-page multiple copies, collation, fit to page, four pages in one, ID copy, draft copy and contrast adjustments are a few other features of the copier mode.
Starter cartridge yields 700 pages, new ones can give around 1800-2400 pages
The LaserJet Pro also features the fax function, which includes a built-in 33.6 Kbps fax modem. It can scan and send faxes at resolutions of 300 x 300 dpi. Other features include auto-redial, distinctive ring, fax forwarding, fax polling, 120 number speed dial and delayed faxing.
The HP LaserJet Pro 200 features four different interfaces using which a user can connect to the MFP. A high-speed USB 2.0 port featured on the front can be used for printing or scanning from and to the MFP. A USB interface on the rear can be connected to the PC for print, scan or fax features. The device can also be connected to the network via the Ethernet cable or using a wireless router. Given an Internet connection, the user can print documents from the web, scan and save documents to an online storage, and even send print commands remotely by simply sending an email to the printer’s email address. Tablet and smartphone users too can print using the printer by directly connecting to it using the Wi-Fi network without the need of any router.
3.5-inch control panel with display, rear panel connectivity ports
We tested the printer using conventional everyday documents to test the speed and print quality of the printer. The test documents included standard text and combination of text and photos to represent a letter or presentation document respectively. Regular printing of black or colour documents can be obtained at speeds of 12 pages per minute. Copier modes gave us a single black text copy in 18 seconds while a colour document copy came out in 24 seconds. The printer starts up from a cold boot in 45 seconds and the first page can be availed in 18 seconds from standby. We also tested the scanner’s ADF copy speeds using 10-page text and colour documents, which resulted in 62 seconds and 78 seconds respectively. Scanning a 10-page colour document to a PDF file on the PC takes around 95 seconds. Lastly, the flatbed scanner can scan A4-sized photos with 300 dpi resolution in 10 seconds.
See the difference—Draft, Normal and Copier mode
The quality of the prints was impressive, except for the copier-mode colour printing. We found the prints very smudgy and lacking sharpness while copying colour documents. Regular text and colour prints are sharp and crisp. Draft mode prints were readable enough and we could make out the toner saving mode in the printed images as the dotted print texture was clearly visible. Best mode printing results in great imaging on the paper with very crisp and clear prints. The quality of the scanned images is also average.
The HP LaserJet Pro 200 color MFP M276nw printer is an average colour laser printer for small to medium-sized businesses or offices. The toner and power saving features can help reduce the cost factor to an extent. It would have been even better if the MFP featured an automatic duplexing unit in order to save on paper costs or manual time in turning over the pages for double-side printing. The MFP is a good choice for an all-in-one laser category imaging peripheral for any office. The price tag of Rs 56,199 might seem a bit too high as an initial investment, but in the longer run, the cost per page will definitely be appreciated. What would also add to the savings is the power-saving feature of the printer. We would recommend this printer for large offices with heavy print volumes.
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