HP Business Inkjet 1100d
At a Glance
The Business Inkjet 1100 series printers are intended for high-capacity use--as inkjets go--and for easy attachment to your office network. We tested the 1100d model, which costs $200. If you want to connect the printer to your network right out of the box, the 1100dtn is a much better value: It costs just $300, and you get an ethernet port plus a second input tray that boosts total capacity to 400 sheets. Both models sport an internal duplexer for two-sided printing. Another feature that qualifies the 1100d as a business printer is its oversize ink tanks: Each $34 tank yields approximately 1750 pages (according to HP), making the per-page expense less than 2 cents per page for black text.
If the laser printer in your busy office churned out text at 4.1 pages per minute, like the 1100d did in our tests, you might hear lots of griping. But that's the tested speed of the 1100d over a USB 2.0 connection, and it shouldn't be any faster on ethernet (we didn't test it using this connection, however). HP ships the 1100d with half-size ink cartridges, so it may not be long before you have to spend $136 more for four full-size cartridges at $34 each.
In our print samples, text looked solidly black and sharp overall, but slightly blobby on curves; coated inkjet paper didn't improve text quality significantly. The 1100d printed gray-scale photos surprisingly well, with good detail and attractive textures; color photos on glossy paper looked good but captured less detail than we'd like. The 1100d printed color graphics very quickly, and at 1.8 ppm was slower only than the HP Business Inkjet 2300, which kicked them out at 2.2 ppm.
For a business printer, $200 (or $300 for the networked model) is an attractive price. Hewlett-Packard sells other business-oriented inkjet printers that print faster, but a network-ready model with automatic duplexing costs at least $899. Similarly equipped color laser printers start at about $850 these days.
The 1100d has a parallel port along with its USB 2.0 port and a slot for the optional network adapter. If you accept the option, HP's software installer puts a utility on your PC that automatically orders replacement ink cartridges from HP when your ink levels get low. The 1100d has one 150-sheet paper tray; the 1100dtn adds an extra 250-sheet paper tray. The 1100d is big--at 19 inches wide by 17 inches deep, it's the size of many laser printers--so it needs its own desk.
HP's mediocre documentation leaves it to the user to figure out some of the printer's features: We received a setup poster with illustrations but no text; a short, multilingual manual; and an on-screen guide that was thorough on maintenance and troubleshooting, but short on the printer's day-to-day usage. One minor annoyance: The tray cover, which is thinner than on previous HP models, felt flimsy and was difficult to close.
The 1100d makes an attractive and inexpensive alternative to color lasers, if you can live with its slower print speeds.