HP expands its laser printer line

Hewlett-Packard Co. (HP) is speeding up its LaserJet family, with the release of two new models that build on the LaserJet 4100 workgroup monochrome laser printer.

The new, faster models are the LaserJet 4200, which retains its predecessor's US$1099 price, and the even faster LaserJet 4300, priced at $1399. The two new printers boast a graphic display panel and cost less than $100 to operate.

The 4200 and 4300 are already available. The 4100 will be phased out over the next few weeks as the current inventory is sold, according to HP.

Workgroup Extras

The prices apply to basic units--without special paper-handling or networking capabilities added. But HP doesn't expect to sell many basic units. These LaserJet printers are primarily workgroup tools. And in offices where very fast laser printers are needed to meet the demands of many users, networking functions and high-class paper handling are usually necessities.

HP plans to sell each printer in six different configurations, starting with the basic unit and topping off with a version that has an extra tray, the ability to print on both sides of a sheet of paper, a stapler, a stacker, and a network card. The upper-end versions are expected to cost US$2455 for the 4200, and US$2755 for the 4300 (maintaining a $300 premium over the 4200 in like configurations).

Workgroup printers have to be fast, and performance is the new printers' main selling point. The LaserJet 4200 boosts the 4100's once-impressive 25 pages per minute maximum speed to 35 ppm. For the extra $300 that the LaserJet 4300 costs, HP offers a performance boost to 45 ppm.

HP claims that both printers can have the first page out of the printer within 9 seconds under ideal conditions.

Cartridge Conservation

When you have several people printing a lot of pages on a machine in another room, no one wants to take the time to change the toner cartridge. So HP has increased the cartridge capacity on the new printers. Whereas the 4100 could print an estimated 10,000 pages per cartridge (a cheaper, 6000-page cartridge is also available), the LaserJet 4200 cartridge handles 12,000 pages, and the LaserJet 4300 manages 18,000.

One side benefit of the larger cartridges is a lower cost per page--a fact that may be obscured by the fact that it also means a higher cost per cartridge. While the 4100 cost about 1.29 cents per page, the 4200 runs only 1.24 cpp and the 4300, 1.1 cpp. Those numbers are worth recalling when you have to shell out nearly $200 for a 4300 cartridge.

Other new features include a graphics panel that, according to HP, will make the new printers easier to use, and 600-sheet input trays.

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