Hewlett-Packard Australia LaserJet 4345 mfp

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Hewlett-Packard Australia LaserJet 4345 mfp
  • Expert Rating

    3.50 / 5

Pros

  • Great value for money with a wide range of options

Cons

  • Lacking functionality

Bottom Line

HP's LaserJet 4345mfp squeezes the complexity out of buying, maintaining, and using a corporate printer/copier/scanner. It delivers fast performance and good image quality, and it works with a useful assortment of HP paper-handling hardware and workgroup document-management software. Copier aficionados might notice a few missing high-end features, but the 4345mfp provides everything most offices need.

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Many high-performance, laser-based MFPs (multifunction printers) cost thousands of dollars and provide features and capabilities so sophisticated -- or bewildering -- that you can buy them only from a reseller, packaged with setup, training, and maintenance contracts. Hewlett-Packard Co. bucks that market model with the LaserJet 4345.

The LaserJet 4345 sells on HP's own Web site, and it delivers rocking speed and quality whether printing or copying. The basic installation doesn't require much more than plugging in a Cat 5 cable. Bundled software and an embedded Web server provide the standard suite of HP network-printer management tools, which you're probably already familiar with.

The 4345's base configuration combines a fold-out, 100-sheet auxiliary tray and an internal 500-sheet tray with 256MB of memory and a 20GB hard drive. The automatic document-feeder flips pages over to copy, fax, or scan both sides, though printing on both sides requires a duplexer. The printer differs in one key respect from some other high-end MFPs in that it handles letter and legal-size documents, but not tabloid-size.

The 4345's touch-screen control panel design is so clear users probably won't require any training to make copies. Scanning to a PC with HP's optional Digital Sending Software is equally simple. Setting up the receiving folders involves merely pointing to them in the software's Configure mode, which either you do on the server or users do on their clients.

Still, HP's design isn't perfect. For example, the 4345 knows automatically what size paper is in a tray, but there's no place for an external label, so users are left in the dark. And the machine lacks some high-end but useful copier features. You can't erase the black stripe that forms at the center gutter of copies from books, nor can you add page numbers to copy jobs.

The printer's management capabilities earn mostly high marks. Thanks to the machine's internal Web server and HP's Web Jetadmin software, you can keep a close eye on the 4345's status from the comfort of your PC. However, as is true of virtually all MFPs we've tested, the LaserJet 4345 doesn't provide IT managers with sufficient granularity to control which settings users may modify on the control panel: You can't prevent a curious employee from changing the device's IP address or putting it in test mode and leaving it that way.

The LaserJet 4345 delivers performance that will keep an office productive. In our tests it made copies at 43.1 ppm (pages per minute), just a bit shy of its 45-ppm rated engine speed and printed text at 27 ppm. Its printed text documents impressed us with sharp, clearly defined letters that remain evenly weighted down to very small sizes. The 4345's copies are also surprisingly free of spatter or cloudiness, though some choppiness shows up on the edges of letters.

Printed graphics get good marks for smooth transitions and shading and for sharp focus. Like all monochrome devices, the 4345 produces graphics that show some graininess in places. Also like all monochrome devices, the 4345 struggles to copy gray-scale graphics, which have interference patterns, a grayish, flat look, and noticeable loss of detail. The 4345 did a good job scanning text at 200 dpi and captured fine detail in line drawings at 600 dpi, but in monochrome mode it made a muddy mess of gray-scale graphics.

The 4345 is inexpensive to acquire and equip but no bargain to operate. Although you might be able to negotiate a lower cost per page for a system sold through different channels, HP's push to sell MFPs the way printers are sold certainly simplifies the procurement process. And HP has done a commendable job tailoring the LaserJet 4345 for offices that need throughput, simplicity, and expandability without some of the more arcane copier features.

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