Laser printers are as staid as modern PC technology gets. We’ve been saying for some time now that, aside from tacking on the occasional new productivity and convenience feature, or increasing speeds a smidge on occasion, we haven’t seen any heavy-hitting improvements to the laser printer in ages.
If something is going to change in lasers, though, HP is as predictable a source for that innovation as printer makers come. And what the company has done is not so much change the printer, as much as its diet.
That would be the toner. HP’s recent toner reformulation, dubbed ColorSphere 3, is part of an overall toner-cartridge and print-engine revamp that it is calling “JetIntelligence.” According to HP, between the toner reformulation and logic built into both the “new Original HP Toner cartridges with JetIntelligence” and the printer, your LaserJet will use up to 53 percent less energy, take up to 40 percent less space, as well as wake up and print duplex (two-sided) pages faster.
In fact, in a recent press release, HP’s vice president and general manager of LaserJet hardware and technology, Tuan Tran, claimed, “Today’s announcement represents our most significant laser printing re-engineering since the introduction of the first LaserJet in 1984.”
The biggest thing to hit the laser in 30-plus years? That’s worth a closer look to see whether there’s heft or hype there. HP sent us one of these initial printers based on JetIntelligence and the new toner tech, the $429.99-MSRP Color LaserJet Pro MFP M277dwBest Price at Amazon. Again, many of the JetIntelligence benefits come from reformulated toner and reengineered cartridges, which we’ll discuss in some detail in the next section.
What we will say here, though, is that HP’s JetIntelligence promotional material makes a lot of the idea that you get significantly more prints per cartridge (33 percent more, according to its estimates), rather than more prints for your money. And this is a key distinction: While that may mean fewer toner-cartridge swap-outs over the life of the printer, the technology doesn’t necessarily mean more money in your pocket. While this is a great little printer, as you’ll see in our Setup & Paper Handling section later on, it is somewhat pricey to use, especially for color pages.
Hence, as we’ve said about many an entry-level and midrange printer, no matter how attractive and up-to-date it is, this model just doesn’t compute for environments with heavy print loads. HP does offer some uncharacteristically high-volume toner cartridges (up to about 2,400 pages) for a printer this size. But, again, the actual per-page cost of using the Color LaserJet Pro MFP M277dw is too high for all but small and home-based offices with print loads of, say, just a few hundred pages per month.
Again, we’ll discuss why this makes sense as a low-volume, personal color laser printer later on. In the meantime, though, know that the M277dw is a sharp little color laser all-in-one (AIO), well worth taking a good look at if you’re not trying to outfit a business that prints all day, every day. As we wrote this in early August 2015, HP was offering a $100 discount off the MSRP, trimming the price to $329, so this model could make good sense for environments that need modest numbers of color-fast prints.
Read entire review at Computer Shopper