Product Type: Hewlett-Packard printers
Newest Review: ... to buy another if I had to do it all over again. It occasionally feeds multiple sheets, but not often enough to bother me.. maybe onc... more
A Reliable Old Work-Horse
HP Laserjet 6L
Member Name: Kukana
HP Laserjet 6L
Date: 14/08/04, updated on 14/08/04 (3085 review reads)
Advantages: Still works well after nearly seven years, Extremely good quality printing, Long-lasting cartridges
Disadvantages: Problems with multi-feeding double-sided printing, New cartridges are expensive
We bought it shortly before Christmas, so that we could print our annual family newsletter on it. At that time, photocopying was quite pricey: about 10p per A4 side. This was perhaps reduced a little for double-sided bulk copying, but still it would have cost us over £15 simply to photocopy our newsletter 100 times. Taking into account paper, cartridge usage and even a little for wear and tear, we calculated that a laser printer would produce double-sided pages for about 3p each. In addition we could choose to print exactly the number we needed, plus a few extra if necessary later on, rather than having to guess (and over-estimate) in order to get a bulk reduction.
We also wanted to be able to print out copies of letters we has typed, some emails, and also some articles downloaded from the Internet. In those days connection speeds were slow, and there was no broadband! In addition, I wanted a reasonable quality printer for articles I was writing for magazines. All of these required black-and-white printing. So we decided that, much as it would be nice to have a colour printer, it was more economically sensible to opt for a good quality black-and-white laser printer.
My husband looked at the various options, and the HP laserjet 6l seemed to provide the best value for money. He trusted the Hewlett-Packard name for reliable printers, and decided that it was not worth paying extra money for ultra-fast printing. The speed of printing was given as six pages per minute - not particularly fast, but quite suitable for home use. We actually ti
med it a few times, and found this to be roughly accurate.
Although this printer has now been discontinued by Hewlett Packard, there are still many available second-hand; a quick scan of Ebay shows at least ten of them available there, at a cost of around £20.
It's reasonably small, sitting neatly on a desk next to a computer monitor. The paper is fed in through a rear slot on the top, and can emerge either through a parallel slot also at the top, or - for items such as envelopes printed on thicker paper - through a single-feed slot at the front. A simple flick of a switch alters this setting, which is most convenient.
The quality at the time was considered very good: 600 x 600 dpi (dots per inch) is the official specification. To my non-technical eye, the resultant printing looked excellent. There were none of the blurry edges inherent in desk-jet printers of the time, and black-and-white photographs printed clearly. Even in 2004 it still seems to be comparable with many other more modern printers.
Installing was straightforward, although I didn't do that myself: there was a cable provided, and an onscreen wizard with full instructions to instal the driver and check that it was working satisfactorily. It took about five minutes in all and we were very pleased with the quality of the resultant test page.
Changing the cartridge is fairly easy; the front of the printer can be pulled open, then the old cartridge removed and the new one put in its place. It's a little awkward ensuring it's in the correct position, but the printer won't close until it is. We find that when a cartridge is beginning to run out (evident by white streaks across a page of print) it's worth taking out the cartridge and giving it a good shake to redistribute the toner: this usually gives us at least 200 more pages, and subsequent shakings will ease yet more
reasonable prints, if it starts to run out at an inconvenient time!
Cartridges for this printer are fairly pricey - around £50 for a new branded one, although it's sometimes possible to find cheaper alternatives. We have started using a cartridge refilling service, which comes to about half the price of the new one and is more environmentally friendly. We've found these to work just as well as the HP branded ones; with normal family use, each cartridge lasts about a year. In that time we probably use at least four reams of A4 paper, often printing both sides, so the cost isn't at all unreasonable. Note that it's vitally important to get the 6l cartridge, not that for the laserjet 6. The two are completely different. I speak from experience!
Unfortunately, no printer is perfect and ours does have some problems:
~ Multifeeding paper: While the printer worked beautifully for the first year or so, we noticed that it became progressively worse about multi-feeding paper - in other words, we would sometimes set it to print ten copies of something, put some paper in the correct slot... and after the first couple, about six sheets would emerge all at once. Worse still, the printing would sometimes be staggered over about three of the sheets of paper, meaning that they were all wasted. We found this problem occurred most frequently when trying to print the second side of anything. The printer doesn't do automatic double-sided printing, but it's easy enough to print a first side, and then put the paper in the other way around to print the second side. Fine with just a single sheet, but disastrous with multiple copies - such as we wanted for our family newsletters.
We recently learned that this is a known problem for this particular printer, and that Hewlett Packard produced a small device to insert which separated sheets, and which could b
e ordered to help this problem - but unfortunately they're no longer offering it. We find that if we put a large quantity of paper in (perhaps 100 sheets) then it will do multi-feeds more successfully, but this seems rather an overkill for printing ten copies of something!
~ Dust: Since the paper feeding slots are at the top, it's all too easy for the insides to get dusty, and it's not easy to clean! Eventually we bought a plastic printer cover, which mostly eased this problem.
Still, overall we have been extremely pleased with our printer. It's still going strong, and giving excellent quality printing without any serious problems. Not many seven-year-old printers can make that claim! We do have a colour deskjet printer as well now, but its text printing even at the best setting is not as sharp as that of the laserjet, nor does it print so quickly. Moreoever, it works out considerably more expensive in replacement cartridges. When our laserjet printer finally gives up, we will certainly consider buying a second-hand one for £20, since it's very useful to have a high quality and reasonably fast printer.