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This Month in Printers

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At a Glance
  • Brother HL 5070N

  • Hewlett-Packard HP LaserJet 4300n

  • Lexmark T420d

  • Oki Data B4300

  • Generic Company Place Holder Canon Bubble Jet i70 Color Printer

This month we cover a wide range of monochrome laser printers -- from personal or small-office desktop printers to blazingly fast workgroup printers, including the first two printers we've received that support Apple's new zero-configuration networking standard, Rendezvous.

?o have Jaguar and an Ethernet connection between a printer and a Mac can stop worrying about IP numbers and subnet masks: both the Brother HL 5070N and the Hewlett-Packard LaserJet 4300n pop right up in Jaguar's Rendezvous Printers list. You can also access the printers from Apple's Safari browser once you set your Bookmarks preference to Include Rendezvous. Both printers work with Apple's default laser-printer driver, so it's a snap to share these devices with anyone on your network who has a Rendezvous-capable Mac. For access to all the functions of one of these printers, you should install the manufacturer's driver.

At the lower end of the networked lasers, the HL 5070N and the Oki Data B4300 were neck and neck in terms of print speeds and text quality. But the HL 5070N's lower price, better graphics output, and Rendezvous capabilities pushed it to the top. The Oki Data B4300 required an optional PostScript-emulation upgrade to work over a network with a Mac. The $528 price listed in the chart includes the cost of this essential $109 upgrade, which is sold separately.

In the workgroup category, the LaserJet 4300n is more expensive than the Xerox Phaser 4400N, but it ships with more standard RAM and a higher duty cycle (in other words, the maximum number of pages you can print in a month). The Phaser 4400N came in just behind the LaserJet 4300n in most categories, but it matched the LaserJet 4300n in terms of output quality. The extra $400 that the LaserJet 4300n sets you back does buy you the ease of Rendezvous printing and could save you a lot of time if you frequently print long documents.

The Lexmark T420d was a bit of a lone wolf in this roundup. It's a snappy USB printer with built-in duplexing. Its print speeds were more in line with this roundup's costlier workgroup printers than with the printers at the lower end. However, the T420d produced some banding in its graphics, and we had to squint to read its small text output.

At a Glance
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