HP LaserJet 1022NW review

Price when reviewed

Personal laser printers now routinely sell for less than £100, so the 1022NW has its work cut out to justify its price tag. Its key distinguishing feature is signified by the NW suffix, indicating both wired and wireless LAN capability. While the latter isn’t an essential feature, it’s potentially very handy and does at least differentiate this model in what’s becoming a crowded market.

HP LaserJet 1022NW review

Speed is one of the most prized assets of laser printers, and the 1022NW doesn’t disappoint here. Our 50-page document printed in just two minutes, 51 seconds after 12 seconds processing, which matches HP’s 18ppm quoted rate. Our complicated 24-page DTP document and 20-page PDF files slowed the rate slightly, appearing at 17ppm, but our 12-page Excel document actually bettered HP’s estimates, rising to 19ppm.

We were also impressed by both the quiet operation of the unit and the rugged build quality, with solid paper trays and a reassuringly sturdy toner loading mechanism. Other areas of the 1022NW proved disappointing, though. The sheer compactness of the paper path meant we experienced paper furling, with the edges of the page bending backwards after arriving in the out tray. It isn’t a serious issue for those printing for non-critical use, but pages lack the air of professionalism that attracts many to a laser printer in the first place. There was also a distinct whiff of ozone every time we printed a large job – a definite drawback for a desktop printer.

We expect good print quality for this price, and if all you’re looking for is decent text quality the 1022NW won’t disappoint. However, larger fonts and solid areas of black reveal an uneven toner distribution, giving texture to supposedly black areas of the page. We were also underwhelmed by the quality of the dithering in our coloured business graphics tests. Although text on coloured or grey backgrounds remained legible, solid greys frequently became stripes, with the dithering obvious at best. Photographic image quality was inevitably lacklustre, with evident banding and uneven toner distribution severely compromising its appeal.

Running costs should be another advantage for a personal laser, and here the 1022NW makes up some of the lost ground. A toner cartridge costing £29 (www.tiktak-it.co.uk) will print 2,000 pages, equating to 1.44p per page. This compares well to sub-£100 printers such as the Dell 1100 or Samsung ML-1610, which cost 1.95 and 2.05p per page respectively. However, you’ll need to use an awful lot of toner before you start to make back the £80 price hike between the two budget machines and the 1022NW.

There’s no denying that the 1022NW is compact, quiet and fast, and the drawbacks – image quality and paper furling – aren’t an insurmountable problem for those looking to print hard copies of documents with no intention to distribute them. If you don’t need the networking, consider the Dell 1100, which offers similar results for £100 less. It’s also worth considering devices such as 3Com’s OfficeConnect 802.11g Print Server (£52 from www.expansys.comk), which represents a better-value route to wireless printing.

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