The HP Color LaserJet Pro M252dw is a small office or home office (SOHO) A4 colour laser printer with duplex printing, a colour touchscreen and compact form. It can be used over a wired network or wirelessly as with quick setup via NFC for some mobile devices.
When we reviewed its predecessor, the HP LaserJet Pro 200 Color M251nw SOHO colour laser, we gave it a good 7/10.
The new model, the more neatly named Color LaserJet Pro M252dw, despite its similar number, has several significant upgrades.
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The case is brand new, sporting a slightly wedge-shaped, white finish with a dark grey inset on top for the output tray. A flip-up, 73mm colour touchscreen gives good control of the printer and can also be used to display photo thumbnails or HP’s online apps. It's nicely sensitive and supports swipes and touches.
On the opposite side of the top cover is a socket for USB drives, protected by a rather flimsy-looking, spring-loaded flap. This is a more convenient position than the typical front panel socket.
At the bottom of the front panel is the main paper tray, which has a capacity of just 150-sheets. We’ve complained before that this capacity is too low for even a small office, where 250 sheets would be a better compromise. Even low-end inkjet printers offer this kind of capacity. There’s no option for an extra tray, either, though there is a single-sheet multipurpose feed, directly above the main tray.
The printer is compatible with HP’s own PCL printer language and with PostScript level 3 in emulation, so is equally happy connected to a PC or a Mac. If you use its wireless connection, you open up a whole new field of direct and remote printing from a wide variety of devices, including those on iOS and Android platforms.
As well as being able to print via HP’s ePrint service, you can print directly from wireless devices and connect them using NFC tap-and-go, if they support this feature.
The four integrated drum and toner cartridges slot into a rack which pulls out from the front of the Color LaserJet Pro M252dw, making it very quick and easy to maintain. Like the paper tray, we’d like to see a higher capacity to these cartridges, but now at least there are high-capacity versions of the colour as well as the black cartridges.
HP claims a top speed of 18ppm for the Color LaserJet Pro M252dw, in both mono and colour print. We measured 8.8ppm on our 5-page mono text document, rising to a true 14ppm on the longer 20-page test. This isn’t bad for a colour laser in this price range.
Our five-page text and colour graphics document gave 8.3ppm and the 20-page document printed as a duplex test – duplex print is now standard – gave a respectable 9.2 sides per minute. 15 x 10cm photos took between 14s from a USB drive, to a rather laid-back 1 minute 12s from an Android smartphone.
The quality of the prints is excellent on black text, with crisp, dense characters and no sign of spatter. Solid colours are also just that: bright and with no banding and registration of black and colour is, in general, good.
Colour photos come through well-detailed and with good overall colours, though default settings make them slightly darker than the originals and some shadow detail is lost.
The printer is unusually quiet, with measured peaks of just 59dBA at half a metre.
Using the XL versions of the drum and toner cartridges gives page costs of 2.8p for black and 10.1p colour. These are both lower than the LaserJet Pro 200 Color M251nw, with the colour cost being 2p per page cheaper. In comparison with other colour lasers in the same price range, it’s now highly competitive.
There are quite a few inexpensive colour laser printers around, including the Dell C1760nw and the Brother HL-3140CW. Both of these machines are noticeably cheaper than the HP offering, but the Dell is a lot more expensive to run, with a colour page cost of over 15p and neither machine offers duplex print. The Brother machine does have a 250-sheet paper tray, though.
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There’s a lot to like about the HP Color LaserJet Pro M252dw, from its smart looks to its versatile wireless connection and duplex print. We’d like to see a higher capacity paper tray – or an option for a second tray – but other than that, it’s a very good choice for anybody who needs quality black and colour laser print, without a high purchase cost.