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HP LaserJet 1020

At a Glance
  • HP LaserJet 1020 Laser Printer (14 PPM, 600x600 DPI, B&W, 2MB, PC)

HP LaserJet 1020
Photograph: Rick Rizner

If you don't print constantly and you're prepared to stash your paper supply in a drawer between uses, the $180 HP LaserJet 1020 can help you make the most of your precious home-office space. With its paper tray flipped up, it folds into a neat box with a footprint that measures only 139 square inches, making it the smallest laser printer we've seen so far. And if it stays closed most of the time, you may not notice the high cost of printing each page. Toner cartridges for the LaserJet 1020 cost $70 each, and HP rates them (using the industry standard) to yield only 2000 pages of output, so this isn't a printer for heavy use.

Like other budget lasers, the LaserJet 1020 keeps its price low by enlisting your PC's processing power to do the hard work. Windows' low-level Graphical Device Interface renders the pages, allowing the printer to concentrate on feeding the raw data to its engine. In our speed tests, text pages printed at 12.3 pages per minute, a slightly slower rate than most small-office lasers we've tested recently managed. Graphics printed at a more reasonable 8.9 ppm.

The LaserJet 1020's text quality failed to impress us. Our team of judges noted fuzzy edges, particularly at the bottom of each character, and italics looked hazy. The line art sample seemed a bit shaky, though it showed almost no horizontal banding. Our grayscale photo acquired a gritty texture and lacked sufficient contrast.

The paper tray holds up to 150 sheets and can cope with legal-size paper. You'll have to feed envelopes one at a time through the manual slot just above the paper tray. With only two lights, the LaserJet 1020's control panel is about as simplest you can find, leaving almost everything to the Windows printer driver to handle. A hard-copy Getting Started Guide comes bundled with the printer, but the CD-ROM includes short animated sequences that are perfect for walking a beginner through setting up the printer and installing the software.

Small size and a low price make the HP LaserJet 1020 a good fit for a home office in which space is at a premium and occasional printing jobs don't require the utmost in speed, quality, and economy.

Paul Jasper

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At a Glance
  • This svelte 11-pound printer is the lightest, smallest, and slowest unit on the chart.


    • Small footprint
    • Competitive price


    • Text quality failed to impress
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