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The market for multifunction printers in particular, mono models has become very competitive. We take a look at the new HP LaserJet ProM1536dnf to see just how well it stacks up.

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There’s not much striking about the design of the machine. All in textured and high-gloss black, it looks purposeful, but not particularly elegant. The 35-sheet Automatic Document Feeder (ADF) on the flatbed scanner has a cheery little quiff at its end, and token curves mark out the corners of all the paper trays.

The control panel is logically laid out and is set around a 2-line by 16-character mono LCD display. To the left is a numeric pad for fax dialling, with a set of four fax-related buttons to its left and then finally five quick-dial keys, which look like an afterthought, as they don’t quite sit on the textured control panel. To the right of the display are five buttons for menu navigation and at the extreme right a further five handle copy functions.

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The whole of the scanner section hinges up, unusual for a laser multifunction, and the cover to the laser printer section lifts up to give access to the combined drum and toner cartridge, which slots down deep into the middle of the printer.

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The main paper tray is formed by the front cover which hinges down and HP provides a chunky, industrial-look paper tray cover, which also acts as a feed tray for the 10-sheet, multi-purpose feed. There’s a power button to the left of the paper trays and at the back are sockets for USB, Ethernet, phone line and optional third-party handset.

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There’s no wireless option on this printer, but if you connect it as a network machine, you can sign up and use it with HP’s ePrint system. Documents can then be e-mailed directly to the LaserJet Pro M1536dnf MFP, if that is your delight.

Drivers are provided for Windows, OS X and a wide range of Linux implementations and both Postscript in emulation and HP’s own PCL6. ReadIRIS software is there for OCR and HP’s own fax and scan utilities complete the suite.

 

HP claims speeds up to 25ppm for this machine, but this is wishful. Under normal use, we think you’ll see closer to 16ppm, which was the fastest we saw under test, on our 20-page text document. Unlike many machines we test, though, it isn’t because of excessive processing time before a print starts. HP claims a first page out in 8.5s and we saw pages start to print in 11s, which is quick.

Shorter documents are not as quick, with our five-page text test giving 14.3ppm and the text and graphics one managing 16.7ppm. These are healthy speeds, but not in the same league as the claims. The duplex speed holds up pretty well at 13.5ppm and copy times of 10s for a single sheet from the flatbed and 30s for five sheets from the ADF are also good, as is 10s for a 15 x 10cm photo on A4.

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Print is pretty much what you expect from a mono laser: clean cut black text with no signs of toner anywhere it shouldn’t be. Greyscale graphics look a bit mottled, but are passable and our test photo print showed no banding, though again a slight unevenness in large areas of grey, as in skies.

A single drum and toner cartridge is the only consumable the printer needs and it has a reasonable page yield of 2,100 pages. At current Internet prices, we calculate a cost per ISO page of 3.4p, including 0.7p for paper. This cost sits in the middle of the band for similar devices, though a machine like Brother’s DCP-7045N manages 2.8p, quite a bit lower.

Verdict

This is a good, general-purpose mono laser multifunction printer, though there’s little to get excited about. Duplex print is a useful paper saver, but without duplex scanning and copying, some of the potential is wasted. The jury’s still out on how useful it is to be able to ePrint directly to your printer, but the facility is there, if you want it.

 
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