Low price colour, at a cost? Color LaserJet 1500L

Hewlett-Packard’s lowest-priced colour laser printer ever, the Color LaserJet 1500L, offers high-quality output for small- and home-office users ready to make the leap from inkjet to laser printing. To reach that low price, however, HP had to cut some corners.

I compared the 1500L’s output with prints from some of our top-rated colour lasers. I found the 1500L’s monochrome text crisp and sharp, comparable to the text from more-expensive printers. In colour graphics it matched up well against higher-priced HP colour lasers. The 1500L produced photos that were slightly grainier than those from similar colour lasers, but photo edges were smooth and colour reproduction was excellent.

In additional tests, the LaserJet 1500L printed text at 10.9ppm and colour graphics at 2.2ppm — comparable to the speeds of other budget colour laser printers.

Notwithstanding its numerous printing strengths, the 1500L has some notable weaknesses. Like most low-priced lasers, the unit ships with a weaker processor and less on-board memory than high-end units do, relying on the computer to process and render pages (fortunately, most of today’s PCs have plenty of power to spare). Also, you get no Ethernet port (only USB 2.0), so sharing requires Windows networking or a print server.

Most frustrating, however, is the unit’s wimpy fold-out paper tray, which projects a full 25cm into your deskspace while holding only a scant 125 sheets. Unfortunately, to upgrade to the 250-sheet drawer you must pay another $600, wiping out the attractive price.

For HP loyalists who don’t object to refilling the paper tray repeatedly, the 1500L represents decent value. But I’d recommend the Minolta-QMS Magicolor 2300W for everyone else; it combines slightly better output and a 200-sheet paper tray.

In brief: HP Color LaserJet 1500L
Affordable price and good-quality prints, but a shoddy print tray.
Price: $1733
Vendor: Hewlett-Packard
Phone: 13 2347
URL: www.hp.com.au

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Paul McNamara

PC World
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