- Inexpensive; crisp text quality
- Includes media-card slots
- Slow; skimpy, 150-sheet input tray
- Some flimsy construction
It may be cheap, but it’s also a lot slower even than like- or lower-priced models.
HP’s Color LaserJet CP1518ni is a low-cost color laser printer with a decent design. Compared with such similarly priced printers as the Brother HL-4040CN and the Dell Color Laser 1320c, however, it’s a lot slower and has limited paper handling. It’s best suited for use in a home or a fairly small office.
In our PC World Test Center tests, the Color LaserJet CP1518ni produced plain text pages at a paltry 11.2 pages per minute and graphics pages at 2.0 ppm or slower. At least the results were pleasing: Text looked black and crisp. Though a little dark, photos looked reasonably natural. Grayscale images were free of the green or pink overtones that we often see. HP’s own image enhancement technology, called ImageREt 3600 technology, might have helped here: Among other tricks, it manipulates the size and position of the dot within the usual resolution grid, to give images a smoother, more natural look. (In connection with its use of this technology, HP long ago ceased quoting dots-per-inch resolution specs in favor of the vaguer ImageREt designation.)
Besides being slow, the printer has design and configuration shortcomings. The 150-sheet capacity of its main paper tray is below average. When extended to accommodate legal paper, the tray sticks out the front of the printer; technically, this occupies the same amount of space as the more common rear extension, but it looks odd. Duplex (two-sided) printing is unavailable. The front control panel (with a two-line, monochrome LCD) is unintuitive: There’s no clear indication that you must use the ‘OK’ button to summon the menus. Access doors and other parts feel flimsy or move clumsily. On the brighter side, the Color LaserJet CP1518ni comes with five photo card slots on the front and has an easily accessible side door for accepting a RAM upgrade (maximum 352MB).
As on many low-cost printers, the toner cartridges are low-capacity and high-priced. The printer comes with starter supplies of each color good for 750 pages of output. A 2200-page replacement black cartridge costs $70 (which works out to 3.2 cents per page), while each 1400-page color cartridge costs $65 (the equivalent of 4.6 cents per page).
HP’s documentation is thorough. The wordless setup sheet for unpacking and installing the cartridges looks more like a page ripped out of a comic book than something official, but the instructions are clear. The installation routine relies on animated wizards. Inside the printer, illustrated stickers help you perform routine tasks without consulting the manual. The HTML-based documentation is comprehensive without being overly technical. HP’s ratings in our recent Reliability and Service survey were average overall.
For individual users or a small office, the Color LaserJet CP1518ni’s minimal paper handling and toner supplies are probably adequate. Only extremely patient people will find it easy to tolerate the slow engine, however, especially when similarly priced models are much faster and have better features.