There’s one color laser printer with features to meet everything else you might need from it: the HP Color LaserJet CM1312nfi MFP ($499.99 direct). It’s an all-in-one (AIO) printer that you could take home, enjoying its features, that would make you forget the money you paid in exchange for it. Talk about making it as our Editors’ Choice.
What would you expect from a printer? Name it. The CM1312nfi has it: fax machine, color photocopier, network connector, and scan-to-PC and fax-from-PC capacity through a network. It weaves scanning and e-mail, allowing you to scan and e-mail through your PC and open your mail with the scanned document attached.
Enjoy no-sweat dealings with multi-page files and scanning of legal-sized pages with its 50-page automatic document feeder (ADF). Also, print photos from or scan them to memory cards straight in JPG format through memory card slots at the printer’s front.
If you don’t need all the extras like the faxing, network connector, ADF and memory card readers, you may also opt to buy the HP Color LaserJet CM1312 MFP for $399 (direct). Along with the purchase, you’d get a full set of drivers and related software for Windows 2000 and Server 2003, as well as Mac OS 10.3 to 10.5 and succeeding editions. Aside from the absence of the above-mentioned features in CM1312 MFP, the two are pretty much the same so everything else written after this would pertain to both models.
Color laser AIOs are usually too large that it’s quite difficult to find a suitable place for them in relatively small rooms at home or in the office. Save for CM1312nfi. With its 19.1 by 19.6 by 19.3 inches (HWD) dimensions and 54.5-pound weight, what other AIO could be easier to place?
Getting started with your super AIO is just as simple as ABC. Unpack the materials, snap in the ADF input, plug the power cords and cables, put paper and run the setup.
However, as the network setup finalizes, you may have trouble operating a scan from the front panel. According to HP, this feature is automatically enabled if you’re connection is via USB cable but if you’re too close to connect through that, you might no longer need this feature. You’d find this feature handier with network AIOs for document transfers.
Well, the feature should have been automatically set up on a network and there could have been a mistake, but HP uses the LCD on the front-panel, anyway. If you try to scan from it after the installation, you’d might as well be told off by the machine to better check the user guide for instructions on setting it up. Not bad. Anyway, setting up is easy.
Besides, you’d forgive it for this flaw because it allows you to scan straight to a memory card. Just save your files to your memory card and copy them to your PC. They come in as JPG files.
Because it is rather cheap, CM1312nfi does not print as fast as other lasers. With an average rate of 12 ppm (pages per minute) for monochrome and 8ppm for color, it trails a little bit behind some of its competitors. What the fastest sub-$1,000 color laser AIO, Brother MFC-9440CN, printed for 11 minutes and 25 seconds took CM1312nfi 20 minutes and 47 seconds.
Likewise, the cheaper inkjet-based HP Officejet Pro L7680 AIO, only took 15:35 to print our business applications suite. But of course, L7680 is a remarkably fast inkjet. On the whole, CM1312nfi is still way at the front of the race compared with most of the other inkjets.
The quality of its outputs could compensate for this drawback in speed, though. It managed to print highly legible and well-printed samples of majority of the fonts tested at 4 points. There was only one very stylized and thick-stroked font needed more than 8 points to pass the text print test. With such results, you may well print text with any font you want.
In printing graphics, aside from slightly uneven prints in large fills and some graininess, there isn’t much to complain about. The printer is good enough for such printing jobs as tri-fold brochures, mailers, etc.
In printing photos, CM1312nfi also proves to be highly efficient. Aside from the same things seen in graphic prints, its photo prints also manifests high quality at arms length. You wouldn’t regret entrusting your newsletters with photos of marketing materials to it.
Even for what HP terms as “business-quality” photos on 4-by-6 photo papers, CM1312nfi could get both thumbs up. Though they come out with remarkable curl on my test, they’re passable for postcards and other business materials.
There’s only thing in which the lack seems best felt: CM1312nfi could only carry as much as 150 sheets of paper that if you’re on for mass printing, you might find it quite inconvenient having to reload paper over and over. There’s no way to duplex or upgrade. But of course, its relative smallness and lightness must be an indicator that it’s only for light-duty printing. And even for that, who would dare deny that you get far more than what your money is worth by buying HP Color LaserJet CM1312nfi MFP?