HP LaserJet Pro 200 color M251nw Review

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The HP LaserJet Pro 200 color M251nw laser printer delivers speed and output quality, but its paper handling is suitable for only light duty use even by micro office standards.

(3.5 out of 5)

Pros

  • High quality text and graphics
  • Fast
  • Ethernet
  • Wi-Fi

Cons

  • Limited paper handling, with only 150-sheet capacity, no manual feed, and no duplexer

The HP LaserJet Pro 200 color M251nw is both a perfectly capable color laser printer and an awkward fit for either of its two most likely uses. As a personal printer, it’s a little big to share a desk with. As a shared printer in a micro office, it comes up a little short on paper handling. It can certainly do its job well enough in either situation, however, which makes it a reasonable, if not particularly compelling, choice.

Much like the similarly-priced Editors’ Choice Samsung CLP-415NW, the M251nw offers fast speed and above par overall output quality as two of its key features. It also adds such attractive conveniences as a touch screen control panel, the ability to print directly from a USB key, and Wireless Direct—HP’s variation on Wi-Fi Direct—for easy connection to smartphones, laptops, and tablets.

Still other extras include support for printing over Wi-Fi, using Apple AirPrint or HP’s own mobile print app, and both printing through the cloud, if you connect the printer to a network by Ethernet or Wi-Fi, and taking advantage of HP’s online print apps through touch screen commands.

Unfortunately, the printer’s a little weak on paper handling, with a single 150-sheet input tray, no manual feed, no automatic duplexer, and no additional options available. If you  don’t print much, that won’t be a problem, but for a shared printer the paper handling makes it suitable only for light duty printing even by micro office standards.

Setup, Speed, and Output Quality

Despite a paper capacity that argues against using the M251nw as a shared printer, the size and weight make it hard to argue that it’s a personal printer. At 10.4 by 15.9 by 17.8 inches (HWD), it’s a little big to share a desk with comfortably, and it’s heavy enough, at 41.4 pounds, that you might want some help moving it into place. That said, it’s small enough so you shouldn’t have too much trouble finding room for it, and once in place, setup is typical for the breed. For my tests, I connected the printer to a network using its Ethernet connector and installed the driver on a Windows Vista system.

HP rates the M251nw at 14 pages per minute (ppm) for both mono and color. On our business applications suite (timed with QualityLogic’s hardware and software), I clocked it at an effective 5.1 ppm, which is a respectable speed both for the rating and the price. In comparison, the Samsung CLP-415NW managed 6.0 ppm, and the similarly-priced Brother HL-3075CW came in at 5.9 ppm.

The printer’s output quality is above par overall, thanks largely to excellent text quality. The text output is at the high end of the quality range even for lasers, making it easily good enough for any business use, even if you have an unusual need for small fonts. Most people would also consider the quality suitable for desktop publishing.

Graphics quality is a match for most color lasers, which makes it easily good enough for PowerPoint handouts or the like. Depending on how much of a perfectionist you are, you may consider it good enough for marketing materials like one-page handouts or trifold brochures. Photo quality is at the low end of par for a color laser. Here again, depending on your level of perfectionism, you may consider it good enough for marketing materials, client newsletters, or the like. It’s certainly good enough for anything short of that.

For most offices, the Samsung CLP-415NW, with its slightly faster speed and better paper handling, will be the better fit, which is why it’s Editors’ Choice. However, the HP printer offers a lot to like, with reasonably fast speed, conveniences like touch-screen controls, and high quality output, particularly for text. If the paper handling is sufficient for your needs, and particularly if you need excellent text quality, the HP LaserJet Pro 200 color M251nw is a more than reasonable choice.

 

By M. David Stone, PCMag

Specifications

    • Printer Category: Laser
    • Type: Printer Only
    • Color or Monochrome: 1-pass color
    • Technology (for laser category only): Laser
    • Connection Type: USB, Ethernet, Wireless
    • Maximum Standard Paper Size: Legal
    • Direct Printing from Cameras: No
    • Rated Speed at Default Settings (Mono): 14 ppm
    • Rated Speed at Default Settings (Color): 14 ppm
    • Print Duplexing: Manual with guidance

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