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One of the first things you notice when you run print tests on this machine is the amount of noise it makes. Not only is it loud – we measured it at peaks of nearly 65dBA – but the tone of the noises is also obtrusive. If it were a washing machine, we’d be wanting to get a service agent out.
There were two things to note from our speed tests. First, the machine is not that fast. The five page text test took 56 seconds to complete, with the colour text and graphics print taking 36 seconds. The 3 x 5in photo print took 42 seconds and a colour copy completed in 38 seconds. Compare those times with the Epson machine, which took 23 seconds, 18 seconds, 19 seconds and 29 seconds, respectively, almost twice as fast in every case.
The other problem was a print error in one of the test pieces. This piece includes a multicoloured headline, produced using Word’s WordArt applet. We’ve used this piece as one of our test samples for the last two years and have never had it printed incorrectly. Here though, the HP machine printed blocks of colour behind each of the text characters in the headline, rather than printing coloured characters. Looks like a software driver glitch to us.
Against this, the colour output from the machine is generally superb. We really are getting somewhere near ink-jet output quality, certainly on plain paper. Our test photo image was vivid and unblemished, with no noticeable banding and, of course, the permanence of dry toner printing.
The printer section of the colour LaserJet 2820 uses two types of consumable: a photo conductor unit and four colour toner cartridges. There are standard (2,000 pages at five per cent cover) and high yield (4,000 pages) versions of the cyan, magenta and yellow toner cartridges. As usual, we used the high yield versions to obtain the best cost figures. The photo conductor unit is rated at 20,000 pages, but this drops to 5,000 pages when you're printing in colour.
Overall running costs work out at 1.89p per black page and 7.46p full-colour. Both these figures are slightly better than the Epson equivalents, but will depend on where you source your consumables from. These were the best prices we could find at the time of writing.
The concept of the Color LaserJet 2820 is good and the physical implementation is neat and effective. The print speed leaves a lot to be desired, though, the noises it makes are unpleasant and we were surprised to see a corruption in one of our print samples. Perhaps you’re better off waiting for the second generation model.