Review: HP CM2320n Color Laser Multifunction Printer - Page 2

By Aaron Weiss
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Ready, Set, Print

The CM2320n print engine promises two feats: speed and quality. The speed comes courtesy of the unit's 450 Mhz processor, which is rated at up to 21 pages per minute in all modes at any quality level (compared to 8ppm for high quality color on the CM1312nfi). The quality comes from HP's ImageREt 3600 engine and ColorSphere toner formula, which claims to produce both a wider color range and higher gloss than other toners and print engines.

The results almost literally jump off the page. Overall print quality from the CM2320n is outstanding, and color printing is superb for a laser. High-resolutions digital photographs output on glossy stock not only come rolling out in a matter of seconds, but image quality is comparable to all but the better inkjets. Plus, there's no messing around with low-capacity and easily clogged ink cartridges.

HP's "Instant On" fuser also produces a relatively quick first page, without the delays other models often experience when starting a print job, especially when coming out of sleep or power-saving mode.

Speaking of power saving, an interesting observation about both the CM2320n and the earlier CM1312nfi—they don't cause a power surge effect like we typically see with other laser printers. With other lasers we've owned and reviewed, printing causes my uninterruptable power supply to beep and the compact fluorescent blubs in my office to flicker. The HP causes neither, meaning that Iwecan finally leave the lights on and print at the same time. Measuring its power draw using a handy Kill-a-Watt monitor, the CM2320n consumes a maximum of about 670 watts when processing a print job, and a fraction of that in between jobs.

Like most such laser printers, the CM2320n accepts a wide variety of media. You can feed it heavy card stock up to 53 pound, transparencies, glossy photo paper, label sheets, and most common sizes of envelopes, postcards, and index cards.

Because the printer does not support a straight paper path output, though, there is a greater chance of experiencing a jam with media that does not respond well to curling.

Copy and Scan

Generating a basic copy is as simple as placing material on the flatbed and pressing the respective "Start Copy" button—one for monochrome and one for color. Timing a single copy of a full-color magazine cover, the entire process from button press to finished page clocks in at about 28 seconds.

Control panel buttons let you adjust the quantity, size, and contrast of copies. For batch jobs where you want to copy multiple source pages, you can use the ADF or automatic document feeder. It supports up to 50 pages, so you can output multiple copies of batch sources with or without collation, assuming there is enough printer memory to capture all source pages.

Floating hinges allow the scanner lid to be positioned over thick or irregular objects like books, although their range is limited and they pop out of place quite easily.

The copier, of course, is a scanner. You can scan documents from either the flatbed or the ADF directly into your computer in one of several ways. The HP software installs a scanner driver, so that you can import scans directly into most imaging applications like Photoshop.

Scanning like this will launch HP's scan interface, with which you can resize, crop and apply other adjustments before importing the scan. The software defaults to a resolution of 200 DPI, which is a little low for pictures or photographs, but you can bump it to 600 or even 1,200 DPI, the highest optical resolution the scanner supports (higher resolutions involve software interpolation).

Using HP's helper software, you can assign the printer's scan function to a specific software application. This way, rather than launch the software and import a scan, you can trigger a scan from the printer, which will launch the software.

The CM2320n model cannot send scans directly to e-mail, network shares, or memory cards, but you can find these features on nf and fxi models.

Consumable Costs

Toner, sadly, does not grow on trees. And the CM2320n uses four ink cartridges, which list at about $120 apiece. The black toner is rated to yield about 3,500 pages, while the three colors are rated at about 2,800 each.

Doing the math, these numbers yield about 3.5 cents per page for black printing and 4.2 cents per page for color. Of course, real world results could vary considerably depending on the kind of printing you do.

Heavy Duty Volume

Undoubtedly, the big difference between the CM2320 series and the CM1312 series is sturdiness — not only is the CM2320n considerably faster, but it is rated to a much higher productivity level. Whereas the CM1312 series is designed to print between 250 to 1,500 pages per month, the CM2320 is good for up to 2,500 pages.

Bottom Line

Combined with its outstanding color output and fast speed, the CM2320n is an all-around stronger performer — but you'll have to pay extra to gain the same feature-rich options included with the cheaper (and slower) CM1312nfi.

Aaron Weiss a technology writer, screenwriter and Web development consultant who spends his free time stacking wood for the winter in Upstate New York. His Web site is: bordella.com

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This article was originally published on February 19, 2009
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