HP LaserJet 4250n
The HP LaserJet 4250n has enough speed and capacity to supply the needs of even the biggest paper-guzzling workgroup. At $1249 it's not cheap, but if you always buy the largest-size toner cartridge (rated by HP to produce 20,000 pages at 5 percent ink coverage and priced at $220), its per-page costs are among the lowest we've seen. A replacement drum is built into the integrated cartridge, so you have one less consumable to fiddle with.
Out of the box, the 4250n has a 500-sheet main paper drawer and a fold-down 100-sheet secondary paper tray, that can handle up to 10 envelopes at a time. The busiest workgroups will want to add more paper drawers, which stack under the printer. You can add up to three 500-sheet trays (at $249 each) or mix in a 1500-sheet tray (for $499), to raise the maximum total paper input to 3100 sheets. The 4250n has a host of other paper handling options, including a 75-envelope feeder, a duplexing unit, a stapler, and a 500-sheet output stacker. If you're expecting to print very large documents, or if you'll have many people attempting to print at the same time, you can upgrade the standard 64MB of memory to a maximum of 512MB.
The LaserJet 4250n prints text swiftly, at 18.8 pages per minute, but graphics at a midrange 8.0 ppm. The output was unimpressive under close examination. Small text looked too dark; the solid internals of larger characters were blotchy; closely spaced bold letters bled into each other; and the bottom edges of most letters tended to be fuzzy. Line art printed too dark, so that narrow lines blurred together, and larger dark areas faded in the center. Our photo print lacked moire patterns and showed only minor horizontal banding, but it had blotchy dithering patterns in medium gray areas and skin tones. In addition, we noticed an unusual, horizontal ghosting mark in all of our print samples, possibly caused by a dirty roller.
Though we wished that the control panel's LCD had backlighting, we had an easy enough time navigating the printer's setup menus. A Help button promises more than it delivers: Every time we tried it, we were greeted with the message "There is no help available for this item."
The only printed documentation is the Getting Started Guide. This illustrated poster pointed us in the right direction but lacked detail on network installation. The other manuals, including the HP Jetdirect Embedded Print Server Administrator's Guide we needed, reside on the software CD-ROM.
The HP LaserJet 4250n has enough paper-handling options for a busy office, and it dashes through its printing tasks, but its print quality suffers from such haste.