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Text print quality is very good, with sharp, well-defined characters producing high-contrast pages for general office correspondence. When you print business graphics, though, with greyscale tints behind text, the results aren't as clear. While they're still acceptable, the dot patterns making up areas of tone make them look uneven. Small text laid on top of greyscale tints can lose definition.
Greyscale output suffers from the same problem, where the stippling makes the output look a little grubby. Against this, definition and detail is good in what is not, normally, a primary task for a laser printer. Good enough for house particulars – though these days most are in colour – but possibly not for an exhibition catalogue.
HP rates the printer at 12ppm and with results of 34 and 31 seconds for the text and text and graphics prints, it gets a lot closer than most to its manufacturer’s claims. Even so, there are faster personal lasers at similar prices. It produces a 15 x 10cm photo print in a very respectable 10 seconds.
The LaserJet 1018 is a pleasantly quiet printer, belying the measured figure of 58dBA. It has a very smooth printing action and you could happily talk on the phone with it printing directly beside you on your desk.
A single piece drum and toner cartridge makes calculation of running costs very straightforward. HP claims a cartridge will produce 2,000, five per cent cover pages on average and we found them available for around £37, giving a cost per page of 2.35p. This is pretty good – around 24 per cent lower than the Lexmark E120n, for example – and certainly good among sub-£100 laser printers.
Looking at multiple printers in an office, the simplicity of maintenance with a single-piece toner and drum unit may mean additional cost savings in comparison with printers using separate toner and photoconductor units.
There are pros and cons to this printer which you'll need to weigh up before deciding whether to buy. On the con side, there's no facility for networking the device, even on a small home network, unless you tie it to a local PC and make it available as a shared device. Its print quality is generally good, though its greyscales aren't as good as the E120’s. Running costs however are noticeably lower and this is something most purchasers will value.