HP LaserJet 1018 review

£75
Price when reviewed

The LaserJet 1018 marks the latest salvo in a war on the fringes of the printer market – personal mono lasers. Not only are they now more affordable, but they’re also more compact – the 1018 is smaller than most photo-printing inkjets. Naturally, it will only beat an inkjet for printing text and mono graphics in terms of quality, but you won’t find a similarly priced inkjet that can match its 12ppm in best quality mode.

That’s almost exactly the speed we saw in our technical tests too. A 50-page mono text document printed in 4mins 17secs – 12ppm once you subtract the 13-second processing time. Our graphics tests were even more impressive – a complex 24-page DTP document took 2mins 9secs to print: 12.5ppm.

Text quality is flawless. The print engine offers a resolution of 600 x 600dpi, and we saw sharp characters, zero ghosting and good legibility even with small or light-coloured text – the 1018 is as good as a printer costing ten times as much. Dark patches printed with recognisable dithering, but overlaid text remained readable. Our business graphics printed slightly too dark, and there are too few options in the print driver to rectify problems with images.

HP claims that the 1018 is fit for up to 3,000 pages per month, although its build quality underlines the fact that it isn’t built for larger offices. The input tray can hold 150 sheets, while a priority feeder on the front will handle envelopes one by one. The output tray holds 100 sheets, although the plastic tongue designed to keep sheets from drooping over the front of the machine is flimsy.

Toner cartridges cost £36 – almost half as much as the entire printer – but will print 2,000 pages (1,000 from the starter drum included), translating to 1.8p per page (assuming 5% toner coverage). We’re used to budget lasers costing around 2p per page, so this is slightly better than usual. Features are slim, though – there are no menus or buttons and only a USB 2 port on the back.

But at less than £80, the 1018 doesn’t need lots of features: it’s still good value. The only problem is the A-Listed Lexmark E120N. It offers identical print quality and is marginally more expensive to run, but offers 20ppm rather than 12 and, importantly for more sophisticated setups, integrated networking. The E120N also has better build quality. As it costs almost exactly the same and is also available with £20 cashback before the end of July (see www.pcpro.co.uk), it remains our clear first choice as a budget mono laser.

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