capsule review

HP Color LaserJet 2605dtn

At a Glance
  • Generic Company Place Holder Epson PictureMate Deluxe Viewer Edition Photo Printer

    PCWorld Rating

    This fully loaded model has three paper trays and a duplexer, and prints high-quality photos, but print speeds are slow.

At $700 (as of 10/6/2006), the HP Color LaserJet 2605dtn costs $300 more than the similar-looking 2600n we reviewed in December 2005, but it comes fully loaded with features.

Most unusual for a color laser, the printer comes with media slots that let you print straight from a digital camera's memory card. HP aims this printer at small businesses that need to combine text, graphics, and photos into impressive-looking brochures and fliers.

The 2605dtn includes a duplexer for double-sided printing and a second paper drawer; both drawers hold up to 250 sheets each and are handy for switching between plain paper and glossy or letterhead. They extend a few inches out the back of the printer, but HP provides two plastic dust covers to keep your paper supply clean. You also get a single-sheet manual slot for one-off prints on a different paper type. Fortunately, you can feed envelopes from the paper drawers (up to 10 at a time) as well as from the manual slot. The output tray atop the printer accepts just 125 sheets. HP has thrown in all the paper-handling options it offers for cheaper models, so there are no opportunities for further upgrades.

HP says it reformulated the toner to help the 2605dtn print better photos, and the results on glossy paper were among the best we've seen from color lasers, though the results fell short of inkjet printer quality. On plain paper, we saw bright colors, smooth tones, and good shadow detail, but some posterization (lack of smooth gradient) in the darkest areas. On HP's Color Laser Glossy Photo Paper, we got pleasant results that looked like a photo from a distance. Under scrutiny, we could see fine crosshatched dithering patterns in light areas, and faint horizontal and vertical banding in more solid areas. Most colors looked natural, but skin tones had an odd magenta cast. Our grayscale image also had a magenta tint and strong dithering patterns.

The 2605dtn prints nice dark text with just a little jaggedness at the edges. Some artifacts are visible in rounded capital letters, like Cs, Gs, and Os. Our line-art sample came out too dark and we saw pixelation patterns where lines were closely spaced.

A faster processor lets the 2605dtn print text pages only marginally faster than the slow-performing 2600n. In our tests, we clocked the printer at a pedestrian 8.9 pages per minute (compared to the 2600n's 6.8 ppm). At color printing, it was actually slower. Whereas the 2600n printed plain-paper graphics at 2.6 ppm and photos at 1.2 ppm, the 2605dtn could muster only 1.6 ppm and 1.1 ppm, respectively. It's worth noting that HP touts a fast 20-second warm-up time from the printer's power-saving mode, which should appeal to small businesses that aren't printing constantly.

The toner cartridges include the only replaceable parts of the print mechanism, keeping maintenance simple. They slide easily into individual slots behind the printer's fold-down front door. The 2605dtn comes with full-capacity cartridges, though their rated capacities are modest: just 2500 pages for the black cartridge, and 2000 pages for the color cartridges. At $75 for the black cartridge and $83 for each color cartridge, estimated costs per page are an expensive 3.0 cents per monochrome page and 15.4 cents per color page.

Paul Jasper

To comment on this article and other PCWorld content, visit our Facebook page or our Twitter feed.
At a Glance
  • PCWorld Rating

    This fully loaded model has three paper trays and a duplexer, and prints high-quality photos, but print speeds are slow.

    Pros

    • High-quality color printing
    • Good paper handling, including duplexer

    Cons

    • Slow print speeds
    • High costs per page
Notice to our Readers
We're now using social media to take your comments and feedback. Learn more about this here.