HP Color LaserJet Enterprise M553dn review

£403
Price when reviewed

If you think colour laser printing has to be expensive, take a look at HP’s newest range of LaserJets. The Color LaserJet Enterprise M553dn uses completely redesigned toner cartridges that incorporate the company’s new JetIntelligence technology, designed to reduce running costs to an all-time low, while producing superior output quality.

HP Color LaserJet Enterprise M553dn review

HP Color LaserJet Enterprise M553dn review: cutting the costs

Part of the magic is smaller moving parts in the cartridges, which leaves room for quite remarkable capacities: black cartridges are rated for 12,500 pages, while C, M and Y should last for 9,500 pages apiece. That means you’ll be paying a mere penny per mono page, while colour pages come in at a budget-friendly 6.5p – prices that the competition will be hard pushed to match. The new ColorSphere 3 toner also reduces electricity costs, as its lower melting point requires less fusing power.

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The M553dn also delivers for speed. HP quotes 38ppm for both mono and colour prints, and we found these were no idle claims: our 38-page Word test document hustled quietly into the top output tray in precisely one minute. Even our challenging 24-page DTP document, with its large photos and graphics, came out at a rate equivalent to 38ppm at the top 3,600dpi interpolated resolution. Amazingly, duplexing is effectively as fast as single-sided printing: double-sided, our 38-page document was output in 1min 1sec. During these tests, the time to first page was never more than seven seconds, and even when the printer had to be woken from power-saving mode, it still delivered the first page in less than nine seconds.

The ColorSphere 3 toner really does reduce power consumption, too. While printing, we measured an average draw of around 640W, and noted that our prints were merely warm to the touch. For comparison, the Xerox WorkCentre 6605 and Oki MC562dnw colour laser MFPs sucked up 1.14kW and 1.17kW respectively.

HP Color LaserJet Enterprise M553dn review: print quality & features

Speed and efficiency can sometimes come at the cost of quality, but we found the M553dn produced razor-sharp text, with mono photos revealing good detail in darker areas. Our test chart showed that the HP had no problems with 0.1pt gaps between blocks of black – something few inkjets can manage. Colour photos also exhibited high levels of detail, and our chart revealed smooth transitions across complex fades; we did see minor banding in large areas of solid colour, however. We also felt that, overall, colour prints couldn’t quite match the characteristic vibrancy of Oki’s LED printers, mainly thanks to HP’s slightly dull cyan toner.

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Installation is handled by an automated routine, which registers the printer with HP’s Connected service, enabling remote workers to email prints directly to it. The well-designed web interface lets you track how many pages each cartridge has left in it, and also verifies the authenticity of the cartridges to ensure you don’t get ripped off.

AirPrint was ready out of the box, so we were able to print directly via our iPad Air; registering the printer with Google Cloud Print was a matter of simply entering the printer’s Connected email address. Note that the M553n and M553dn don’t natively support wireless networking, Wi-Fi Direct or NFC. If you want these features, you’ll have to opt for the M553x model, which has them built in, or wait for HP’s optional Jetdirect 3000w NFC/wireless accessory, due later this year.

Access security is excellent: support for LDAP and Active Directory allowed us to create lists of users or groups and decide what features they were permitted to use. The printer also has 4GB of NVRAM, so you can happily store large jobs on it, secure them with a PIN and then walk up and print them.

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HP Color LaserJet Enterprise M553dn review: verdict

More revolution than evolution, the Color LaserJet M553dn is a superb choice for small businesses and workgroups. It offers an unbeatable combination of value, low running costs, performance, reduced power consumption and excellent output quality.

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