The HP LaserJet Pro P1102w is a basic monochrome laser printer with a few surprises, namely better-than-expected speed and Wi-Fi. Unfortunately, its pricey toner offsets its very affordable purchase price.

Standard 802.11b/g wireless (plus USB) gives a progressive lift to an otherwise typically configured low-end laser printer. The P1102w has a 150-sheet main input area, a foldout front panel (rather than a full-fledged tray) with sliding width guides. The machine also has a manual-feed slot for thicker media. The top-loading output tray holds 125 sheets. Although the construction of these parts is impressively sturdy, their markings (stamped into the black plastic with no contrasting coloring) are nearly impossible to decipher. Manual duplexing is available on both a Mac and a PC, with helpful on-screen prompts.

The control panel’s two buttons and three LEDs all have icons, but no word labels. You have to check their meaning in the HTML-based documentation, which, to its credit, has excellent, animated translations of the LED sequences.

Laser printers this cheap used to have horrible speed, but the LaserJet Pro P1102w breaks the stereotype. In our tests it averaged a competent 14.5 pages per minute on a Mac and 14.6 ppm on a PC when printing mostly plain text with some simple monochrome graphics. Graphics speeds were decent, but the output quality was rough-looking.

High toner costs will quickly overtake the printer’s low purchase price. A 700-page, starter-size cartridge ships with the unit. A replacement, 1600-page cartridge costs $68, or 4.3 cents per page—as expensive as the the ink costs for an average inkjet printer, but without the fun of color output.

 

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