HP Color LaserJet 2605dn review

Price when reviewed

The 2605dn may be one of the more expensive models on test this month, but the two letters at the end of its name more than justify the high cost. Standing for networking, the n is a common yet welcome inclusion, but it’s the presence of the d – a duplex unit – that really stands out.

The Samsung is the only other model to include one, admittedly at a lower price, but the HP is faster and delivers better-quality prints. And a quick look at the price of optional duplexers for other printers here – the cheapest being £140 exc VAT – emphasises the HP’s value.

For most users, speed and quality will matter most, and the 2605dn returned a mixed bag of results. Despite having a similar 600 x 600dpi engine to others, it produced the highest-quality output of all, beating even the Labs-winning Lexmark, with mono quality a particularly strong point. Thanks to HP’s ImageREt 2,400 interpolation, the detail in dark areas of images is superb and, although half-toning is visible in light areas, fades and transitions were smooth with no stepping. Although half-toning shows up more in colour prints, colours were accurate on the whole and photos were respectable, even if they can’t compete with an inkjet.

Unfortunately, prints take their time to arrive. The single-pass mechanism means colour speeds almost match mono speeds, at 10ppm and 12ppm respectively. But while this colour speed is quicker than all but the lightning-fast Lexmark and Oki, the 10ppm mono speed is mind-numbingly slow in comparison. Printing on both sides of the paper reduces speeds (as expected) to 5ppm in mono and 4ppm in colour.

The standard mono speed, though, is enough to reduce the HP’s appeal in a small workgroup environment. The great quality makes it ideal for a home office, but the higher price limits its appeal compared to the Canon, for example. Less problematic are the running costs: 1.5p per mono page and 7.8p per colour page leave it around the middle of the group, although the combined toner/drum cartridges mean there are no savings for light users. At least HP ships full-capacity cartridges with the printer, but they’ll only last 2,000 pages in colour.

Ultimately, the HP can’t quite match the Lexmark overall, but if your priorities are colour speed and quality the 2605dn is a great choice.

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