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HP LaserJet Pro 200 color Printer M251nw

Jon L. Jacobi and Melissa Riofrio | March 21, 2013
Low-cost color lasers like the $329 (as of 03/20/2013) HP LaserJet Pro 200 color Printer M251nw are tempting for small-office users who see laser technology as familiar and reliable (never mind that in this price range, a small-office inkjet is a much better deal). Unfortunately, color laser models in this price range tend to be slow and sparsely featured, with expensive toner. The M251nw sticks to that trend, but it also offers some innovative features and better-than-usual image quality. Still not cheap enough for you? The Dell c1660w has an even lower price tag and even better output quality, but it's a lot slower and has pricier toner.

The M251nw printed text and mixed-text and monochrome graphics pages at an aggregate 9.2 pages per minute (ppm) on the PC and 8.6 on the Mac. That's decently fast considering the unit's small volume design and low price. It was fast with 4-by-6-inch snapshots, printing them to plain paper in 20 seconds (3 ppm) and glossy paper in about double the time. A full-page photo printed on the Mac took 70 seconds, or 0.8 pages per minute.

The M251nw carries a one-year warranty and is recommended for light-volume use of 250 to 1500 pages a month. That's a real-life rating, not the fantastic duty-cycle numbers that vendors often provide. We'd love to steer you to a version of this printer that has automatic duplexing, but you seemingly can't get that until you shop the LaserJet Pro 400 models.

One of the best choices in this price range

Expensive toner and the lack of two-sided printing are typical deficiencies among low-priced color laser printers. While they can add to the cost of ownership, our tests with inkjets show that light-volume users may not feel the ink or toner pinch for some time. Given all that, the HP LaserJet Pro 200 color Printer M251nw is one of the best choices in its class, because of its good output quality, connectivity, and ease of use.


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