Review: HP Color LaserJet CP1215 - Page 2

By Eric Grevstad
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A Low-Volume Printer

If you're used to the windshield-wiper whoosh of an inkjet printhead going back and forth across the page, you'll have to adjust to the more continuous whir of a laser printer and the CP1215 makes more of a medium whir than the annoying high-pitched whine of some lasers. For the most part, we'd say, the HP is quiet enough to keep on your desk, although it will provide some background noise if you take a phone call while it's printing or sometimes, when it's done printing but the whir persists for some seconds during recalibration.

The printer's front-mounted control panel offers half a dozen status lights and only two buttons for continuing a job, such as after running out of and refilling paper and for canceling one. You'll rarely touch them, relying on the software driver HP's usual assortment of presets for everyday, glossy, label, transparency and other print jobs plus manual menu choices for media type, size, and so on. The software pops up a warning when a toner cartridge is running low; oddly, it also once popped up a tutorial screen of general use instructions after we'd printed 200-odd pages.

Handy tabs let you navigate options such as shrink-to-fit, watermarked, N-up, or landscape printing. You can even change color values from the sRGB palette to AdobeRGB mode, though as with every color laser we've used the CP1215's photo prints (taking about 40 seconds for an 8- by 10-) are too grainy and not vivid enough to approach inkjet photo quality.

Speaking of seconds, HP rates the printer for 12 pages per minute in black and white and 8 ppm in color. Our stopwatch tests came reasonably close to those speeds, with 20 pages of black text taking an even two minutes and a 55-page, color-illustrated PDF document arriving in seven minutes and 17 seconds.

Our one-page business letter with spot-color company logo took 30 seconds when the printer was awake, 35 when it had to awaken from sleep mode. Six PowerPoint slides with white backgrounds printed in 69 seconds, while six slides with dark blue backgrounds took 112 seconds.

The Price Is More or Less Right

Assuming you allow for lasers' newsletter-illustrations rather than framed-prints photo output, you won't be disappointed in the HP's print quality. Times New Roman text was legible in sizes as low as 6 points, though fancy script fonts predictably weren't, and black text was darker and crisper than the default output of numerous low-end lasers we've tested.

Bar charts, banner headlines, and other solid-color areas in PowerPoint and PDF documents didn't quite pop on plain paper, but were more than acceptably bright and free of banding or other flaws.

All told, the Color LaserJet CP1215 is a good choice if you rarely print more than 40 or 50 pages a day and have been lusting after a color laser to replace a desktop inkjet printer. Its speed isn't too low; its cost per page isn't (quite) too high; and its output is close to first-class.

That said, we suggest you spend $100 more as this writing, $400 with the same imminently expiring discount trimming it to $300 for the next-step-up Color LaserJet CP1218ni model.

Matching its sibling in speed and consumables cost, the CP1218ni adds a slew of desirable features including Ethernet; PCL and PostScript 3 emulation; memory-card slots and HP PhotoREt 3600 rather than 2400 interpolated resolution for digital camera pics; 96MB rather than 16MB of buffer memory; a single-sheet priority feed slot; and a front-panel LCD readout. It also comes with a suite of HP Marketing Resource software including useful templates for creating small-office, in-house marketing materials ranging from flyers to business cards. Low prices are great, but penny-wise can be pound-foolish.

Adapted from Hardwarecentral.com.

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This article was originally published on June 25, 2008
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