Multi-Tasking Office Assistant

by Matt Lake

HP Laserjet 3200 Printer/Fax/Copier/Scanner
Rating 90

Want to print, photocopy, fax, and scan? Either pony up $250 for a color multifunction device or spend more on Hewlett-Packard’s LaserJet 3200.

With a 1200dpi laser print engine that cranks out 9 pages per minute, this multifunction office assistant knocks the socks off the color inkjet devices. In our tests, the text was sharp and readable on all kinds of media — ranging from cheap photocopier paper to high-quality vellum. And it hooks up using a USB or a parallel connection.

Insert any document scanned or photocopied into an adjustable feeder to start up the LaserJet Director, which provides buttons for scanning and OCR. The front-panel controls on the LaserJet 3200 handle photocopying, reduction, enlargement, and up to 99 multiple copies. As a fax machine its 33.6kbps engine is speedy and features a 250 memory-dial capacity.

The LaserJet 3200’s toner cartridges list at $65 apiece — more than twice the cost of an inkjet cartridge. Nonetheless, it’s a real bargain. Its estimated yield is 2,500 pages per cartridge, which works out to 2.5 cents a page — less than half the price per page of other inkjet print engines.

The downsides are few, but noticeable. We found that the LaserJet Director software sucked up 2.5MB of memory even when it wasn’t active, which slowed down a test system with 64MB of RAM. Also, some assembly is required. There are several metal and plastic paper guides to slide into place and HP’s directions are hard to follow.

The HP Laserjet 3200 handles its core functions well, with remarkable ease of use. Backed up with HP’s one-year Express Exchange warranty, it’s a sound buy.

PROS: Fast and easy to use; crisp text and clear monochrome graphics
CONS: Lots of paper-handling pieces to assemble; software sucks system memory

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