HP Business Inkjet 1200d
At a Glance
The HP Business Inkjet 1200d is designed for small offices on a tight budget. At $200 it's much cheaper than a color laser, but it has businesslike styling, plus more paper-handling options--and a larger footprint--than most inkjets.
The 1200d's neat built-in duplexer lets you save paper by printing both sides of a sheet. The paper tray holds up to 150 sheets of plain paper, and it can also feed photo paper, envelopes, and other media. An optional second tray ($80) holds 250 sheets of plain paper--handy if you frequently switch between letterhead and plain stationery, or need to fill the original tray with photo paper.
Unlike HP's consumer printers, the 1200d keeps its print heads separate from the ink cartridges. The heads, which cost $34 each, need replacing less frequently than the cartridges. HP estimates that the black print head will last for 16000 pages, and the color print heads for 24000 pages each. The four inks come in individual cartridges that are larger than usual, to cope with the heavier volumes demanded by offices. Replacement cartridges also sell for $34 each, but while the black cartridge's capacity is 69 milliliters, the cyan, magenta, and yellow contain only 28 ml of ink each. On top of that, the starter cartridges supplied with the printer hold only about half as much ink as the replacement cartridges.
The 1200d did well in our speed tests, printing text at a snappy 6.5 pages per minute and graphics at a solid 2.6 ppm. We were disappointed in the output quality, however. Text on plain paper generally looked nice and dark, but we saw obvious bands across the page. Small fonts appeared extremely blotchy, though closely spaced bold lettering was nice and distinct. Our line art sample was spoiled by very obvious banding over the entire width of the print. Plain-paper color graphics showed similar banding, looked very grainy, and lacked detail in dark areas. Images on photo paper were too dark; and while our grayscale image retained sharp detail, it had a noticeably green cast. The 1200d can't print photos without borders.
A color setup poster and a printed startup guide come in the box. The more extensive User's Guide contains helpful color illustrations and a good troubleshooting section.
The HP Business Inkjet 1200d makes a good workhorse printer for a small office, as long as paper-handling options are more important to you than print quality.