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10/13/2006
12:45 PM

Review: HP Low-End Printer Brings High Productivity

The LaserJet 1020 may be small, but it produces high-quality output at a low cost.



In busy office environments, some users are required to print documents all day long, while others only need to print from time to time. This situation often results in users wasting time waiting for paper output, and productivity suffers for it.

The solution? A printer with every workstation. With the exception of high-volume printers, color network printers, and other specialty units, the most economical type of printer to roll out in large numbers for individual use in an office environment is a monochrome laser printer. This type of printer is essentially maintenance-free, reliable, and small, and it provides inexpensive toner replacement. Hewlett-Packard's LaserJet 1020 is a good choice for the job.


Hewlett-Packard LaserJet 1020

Hewlett-Packard LaserJet 1020
When it comes to printers, HP is one of the best-known brands in the business, which adds to its appeal with customers. The LaserJet 1020 is one of HP's smallest and most affordable monochrome laser printers, at 14.6 inches wide by 14.2 inches deep by 8.2 inches high and weighing only 11 pounds. About the size of a toaster oven, it's ideal for installation in cramped offices.

The LaserJet 1020 produces high-quality output at a low cost. It has a manufacturer's suggested retail price of $179 but sells for a lot less on the street.

HP's LaserJet 1020 is easy to set up, mainly because it's small and easy for one person to manage. Also, the consumables come preinstalled so users don't have to do much more than unpack the unit and remove some packing materials and pieces of tape from the outside of the printer. The printer's plug-and-play operation through the USB port makes driver installation a breeze.

The printer also performs exceptionally well. A 234-MHz processor plus 2 Mbytes of memory combine to produce print speeds of up to 15 pages per minute, and instant-on technology allows the first page to print in less than 10 seconds. Image quality also is good. The 600-by-600 dots-per-inch printer features HP's Fast Res 1,200-dpi effective print quality, which produces crisp and highly legible output.

Robust enough for business use, the printer has a 5,000-page recommended monthly maximum output. Toner cartridges are good for up to 2,000 pages each. Print cartridges are easy to replace, as the toner and imaging drum are contained in a single unit.

Although it's diminutive in size, the LaserJet 1020 nonetheless has an ample 150-sheet input tray, along with a single-sheet priority input slot for specialty paper. The printer supports plain paper up to legal size, envelopes, transparencies, card stock, postcards, and labels. Duplex printing must be done manually.

Not designed as a network printer, the LaserJet 1020 features only a USB 2.0 interface; it supports Microsoft Windows 98 SE, Me, 2000, and XP 32-bit.

As inexpensive as the HP LaserJet 1020 is, costs can escalate when numerous units are installed in an enterprise environment. If price is an obstacle, companies should consider the HP LaserJet 1018 printer, which is almost identical in features to the LaserJet 1020 but operates a bit slower.

The LaserJet 1018 is priced at about $100 and prints 12 pages per minute. The result isn't an enormous difference in performance, and the two printers otherwise have the same input and output capacity, connectivity options, and paper-handling capabilities.

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