How can they do that? That’s the question I asked myself when I received the HP LaserJet 2600n, a network-enabled, color laser printer for under $400. The answer isn’t a big surprise – they cut a few corners.
When compared to the last low-end color laser we reviewed from HP, the LaserJet 2550Ln (), the 2600n has dropped PostScript emulation in favor of host-based GDI, which (like an inkjet) relies on your computer to do the image processing. It also cut the installed RAM from 64MB down to 16MB. On the plus side, the standard paper capacity has been doubled from 125 to 250 sheets and the price dropped by a whopping $200.
Setting up the printer was easy. Four toner cartridges come pre-installed, but you do need to pull them out to remove the shipping tape before starting up. You can connect the printer to your computer via a USB 2.0 cable or over a network by using Apple’s zero configuration network technology, Bonjour (previously Rendezvous).
Once connected via Ethernet, the printer did a very good job at printing text from Microsoft Word. The text is very sharp, though a little bit lighter than most of the other color lasers we tested. The 2600n was also very good at printing curved and sloped lines in our graphics test, though the finest of the fine lines was a little broken.
In its print of our standard Macworld picnic photo, the colors were a little light and undersaturated, and objects had a slightly embossed look to them when printed using the default settings. Changing from the default printer driver setting which uses only black toner for neutral grays to the four-color grays setting helped considerably, but the print was still not as good as the 2550Ln. Unfortunately, enabling this four-color option gave our grayscale test image and graphics test print lines a green cast.
Macworld’s Buying Advice.
The LaserJet HP2600n’s price is hard to beat, but picky printer shoppers might want to spend a little more for a printer with better image quality.
|10-page Word test||1:32|
|1-page Word test||0:29|
|22MB Photoshop image||1:22|
|Graphics-Fine Lines, Gradients||Good|
|22MB Photoshop Image Quality||Good|
|Text Quality||Very Good|
Scale = Excellent, Very Good, Good, Flawed, Unacceptable
|Print Resolution||600x 600 dpi (2400 interpolated)|
|Connection||Ethernet, USB 2.0|
|Paper Sizes||Letter, legal|
|Installed RAM/Max RAM||16MB/16MB|
|Cost to replace ink/toner carts||$321 ($75 for black per 2,500 pages; $82 each for C-M-Y per 2,000 pages)|
|Weight (in pounds)||40.5lbs|
|Dimensions (height x depth x width in inches)||14.6 x 17.8 x 16|
|Special Features||Bonjour enabled|