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HP LASERJET P2015x
Stifling heat, mid summer, a deadline to meet and tensions running high. When you have knocked coffee over your work for the third time and you now have the rancid breath of your manager curling over your shoulder the last thing you need is for your network printer to start randomly printing all over the page, screwing the paper up and/or giving its own satisfying splunk noise and going up in a puff of smoke. Thankfully with our main network printer this has never happened, although that is almost exactly what happened to our last one. At the time when our old printer (also a Hewlett Packard) died on us it could not have come at a worse time. For this reason, when asking our IT department to purchase a new printer I specifically stated that it must be able to cope with high volumes of network traffic and different types of media. At best our office is busy, at worst it is manic and between twenty of us we can easily go through around a thousand pages a day, mainly towards the end of the month. As I guess is the case with most busy offices, between us we print on a wide variety of media and with different print qualities and requirements. The last thing you need is to be submitting an important management report in hard to read, distorted text or with patchy images. Likewise, it is tiresome printing a draft five hundred page document when the printer is so slow that you have time to go home and come back again before it has finished. Hence the main requirements for our new office printer were speed, network capacity, high print quality for both text and images and a flexible media handling capability. Well I think I can safely say that our IT department managed to source the perfect printer for our needs.
And so it was that in December a couple of beefcakes from our estates department carried a large box up to the office and dumped it in the middle of the floor before retiring back to their maintenance duties. Half an hour later our IT manager came up and installed it for us.
From what I saw, installation was fairly simple. He was in the office around three quarters of an hour altogether but at least half an hour of that was making coffee and chatting up the pretty new blonde girl in the corner. In our office the printer is connected via wired Ethernet, although it is also connectable over 802.11g wireless and of course by standard USB 2.0, particularly if the printer is to be used as a home printer rather than a shared network printer. The P2015x is very versatile on the systems that it can be connected to and is compatible with both PC and Mac. The minimum system requirements for connecting to PC are (Windows 98, Pentium 166MHz, 64MB RAM), (Windows 2000, XP Home or XP Professional, Pentium 333MHz, 64MB RAM) and (Windows Server 2003, Pentium 550MHz processor, 128 MB RAM) Regardless of the operating system 200MB of free hard drive space is required for all systems. For connecting to a Mac the minimum requirements are Mac OS X v 10.2.8, 10.3, 10.4 and higher, Minimum 128MB RAM and 150 MB free hard drive space. Other than that the printer comes with an installation CD which is very easy to use, although the drivers in our case were installed on the main server with network connections set up on each individual workstation. One thing worth noting is that as with most printers these days there is no USB cable included with the printer. So if you do buy one and wish to connect via USB, then you will need to ensure that you have also bought a long enough USB cable.
Many heavy-duty laser printers tend to be quite big and bulky these days and as our office is fairly cramped a massive printer would really be neither practical nor safe. This printer was perfect for our size requirements as it is fairly compact and just fitted in nicely next to the fax machine. It measures just 13.8 x 17.7 x 13.5 inches and weighs only 31lbs. Although, to be honest, when it arrived the size of the box made it look a lot bigger but it was padded out for protection. The printer is an attractive two-tone grey colour which fits in well with the rest of our office equipment and HP have made the design as simplistic as possible. One of the most important things about any printer is the paper trays and uptake from the said trays. Most problems with printers will arise in places where there are moving parts and so the printer trays are the most likely source of disruption to your printing. This printer has three trays, two standard 250-sheet trays at the bottom and a pull down multipurpose tray, which holds up to 50 sheets. At work we have the two bottom trays filled up with plain A4 paper and we use the top tray for printing on anything other. By default the printer prints in the order of the trays so if you want to print plain paper but you have left letterhead in the top tray it will take from the top tray (and cause unnecessary arguments in the office). Our printer has only jammed once, and that was because some plonker left a CD on top of the paper in the multipurpose tray, which inadvertently got sucked into the printer. Fortunately it caused no lasting damage. The top tray is perfect for any ad-hoc printing such as labels, letterheads, envelopes and transparencies and the like as it is easily accessible and a simple job to just put whichever media type required in there. There are two output bins, one on the top of the printer, which holds around 150 sheets and a pass through slot at the back. The pass through slot is for if you are printing on heavy card for example so that it does not have to bend around the rollers. It is simple to use the pass through function, simply put your media in the multipurpose tray and open the back door of the printer. The media will then automatically pass straight through the printer and come out the back. Genius!
The P2015x comes with 32MB of memory as standard however this seemed to cause us a number of problems when printing large files, especially when printing multiple copies. Never fear however, as our trusty IT department were on the case and have upgraded the memory to around 280MB. Now that this has been done we have never again had any problems with memory overload.
Going back to what I said earlier about scratchy image quality and less than perfect text printing, the P2015x has consistently performed on all of the things that we have asked of it. The advertised print speed is 27 pages per minute although I worked out that in general we only seem to average around 22 pages per minute. Thats still not bad, in fact it is very good and despite the relative speed of printing, the quality is remarkable. When printing just plain text the characters are well formed, clear and are of a perfect black pitch. I cannot see how the print quality could be improved much more as I fail to see anything wrong with the clarity of black text on white paper.
Printing graphics is no different. We regularly churn out graphical reports and large images and I have to say that the print quality is brilliant. Obviously if the image you are printing is grainy on screen it will print grainy as well but provided your images are of a high quality you can be assured that the printer will make no errors in its judgement of picture printing. The resolution for this printer is 1200 x 1200 dpi (dots per inch), which makes for a clean, crisp image.
In summing up I cannot fail to recommend this printer. It has (and still is) serving its purpose in our office to a terrific standard and I hope that it continues to serve us for a long time to come.
Although this is not a colour printer, it is perfectly adequate for anything that you throw at it and at the same time looks stylish whilst taking up minimum space on the desktop.
Toner cartridges are readily available, and, although relatively expensive, they last for a significant amount of time and if you dont print much, one cartridge would probably last you months.
Whether it is for a small office, home network or as a stand-alone printer this one wins hands down!
Thank you for reading.