20ppm is a fair turn of speed for a colour laser, but when we came to run our tests, we didn't get that close. Our five-page black text test returned a speed of 8.3ppm, but when we upped the page count to 20, this rose to 15.4ppm, just over three quarters of the stated speed. You'd have to run a long document to get close to 20ppm.
Bizarrely, on one of our test runs, the printer diverted into a cleaning cycle, which took just under 45 seconds - something that should never happen, especially on short print runs. Lack of cleaning isn't going to make that much difference to print quality in a 20-page document.
Our five-page black text and colour graphics document was slightly quicker than the equivalent text document, achieving 9.1ppm, so we would expect to see a similar sort of increase from a longer print run.
Print quality, as we expected from the same engine as the Canon machine, is generally good. Black text, although at a resolution of only 600dpi, is crisp and dense and gives a good account of itself on external as well as internal office documents. Colour graphics, using HP's patented ColorSphere toner, is bright and attention grabbing, though by default some hues appear darker than their on-screen counterparts.
Our test photo print is unaccountably not as good as the identical print from the Canon machine. There's less contrast in the image and much of the detail in shadowed areas is lost. This has to be down to the firmware controlling the engine and adjustments can be made to improve the results, though in a busy office this is unlikely to be done.
HP's cartridges for this printer have been around for a while in earlier printers, so they're available from the usual discount sources. We calculate an ISO black page cost of 3.2p and one for colour of 11.9p, including 0.7p for paper. Compared with other colour laser printers in the same cost bracket, these page costs are in the middle of the pack. The black cost is a little on the high side, but the colour page cost is below average.
Inevitably, someone looking for a colour laser printer for a small office or workgroup is likely to consider both HP and Canon models. The Color LaserJet CP2025n has the advantage of a better control panel, but the colour print quality by default is not as good. It's also a bit slower, though this is a matter of seconds here and there. The Canon i-SENSYS LBP7200C is only just becoming available, so it's hard to make direct price comparisons, but the duplex version is around £40 cheaper than the duplex version of the HP machine.