The concept of inexpensive color laser printing isn't totally new - prices have been declining for a few years now, making laser printers accessible to more and different kinds of users. What Hewlett-Packard has done with the HP Color LaserJet CM1312nfi MFP, however, is make an inexpensive color laser that can do a whole lot more.
Apart from its less-than-romantic name, I could find few flaws in the $499 (list) CM1312nfi MFP, which is just coming to stores worldwide.
The "MFP," as you may know, stands for "multi-function printer," meaning it will scan and copy and fax, as well as print. Now, I send perhaps one or two faxes a year, but I sure scan a lot of stuff. What's nice about the model I tested, which included an Ethernet interface, is that it could easily be shared among a group of computers on a small network, making it more suitable for a home office, family sharing situation, or even a small workgroup of two or three people, in my view. This would come by connecting the Ethernet port to a wired or wireless router, and then using either Microsoft Windows or the Mac OS X to reach the printer.
It took me about 30 seconds to do this wirelessly, using a MacBook Pro from my office, my wireless network and the connectivity built into Mac OS X. After that, an Adobe Acrobat-formatted document printed perfectly, via Wi-Fi, in about a minute. It was an impressive performance, and in my opinion worth the $100 premium over the non-networked model if you need that capability.
For me, the most challenging thing about setting up the CM1312nfi MFP was lifting it out of the box, since it weighs slightly less than 47 pounds. But while it is a heavyweight in the box, it's also a heavyweight performer out of the box.
As you might expect from a laser printer, printing is sharp and crisp.
But the same goes for color copies, and that's a nice plus. Scanning was very good, especially when using the automatic document feeder, which can handle up to 50 pages. Faxing wasn't tested - did I mention that I don't fax much? - but scanning a document and sending it as a PDF file was very good, and in some respects preferable to a fax.
There's a lot that can be added to this printer, in terms of software, primarily for Windows users, and chores. Windows and Mac users get a copy of ReadIris scanning and OCR software, while there's also HP marketing software for both platforms designed to help users create brochures, postcards and the like. It's a good asset for those who can use a little extra assistance.
In short, there's very little that can't be easily done with the HP Color LaserJet CM1312nfi MFP, and on both major computing platforms, Mac and Windows. I'm especially impressed with its networking capabilities, having a multi-computer home myself. I like the multi-functions, too.
Most of all, however, I do appreciate that it's from HP, which for me has been the "gold standard" among printer makers. I know of very few people who don't like HP printers, and there's a reason: They work, and work, and work some more, generally without fail or complaint. That's a good thing, and so is this new laser.
Read Mark Kellner's Tech blog at http://video1.washingtontimes.com/technology.