Laser printers are still one of the stalwarts of small and home offices, particularly when colour print isn’t required. HP’s LaserJet Pro M201dw comes in at comparatively low cost, while still offering a good feature set and a well-balanced specification.
The printer’s completely black case has an angular look. Its top surface is slightly tilted forwards and its control panel is mounted on the front, like a small handheld device – though it’s fixed in position and angle.
The inset in its top panel, which forms the output tray, is extended with a clip-on balcony and a pull-out extension, which overhangs the 250-sheet feed tray and makes it rather too easy to knock. The feed tray has a hinged cover and you can load individual sheets of special media or envelopes along the top of the cover.
The top cover lifts up to give access to the combined drum and toner cartridge, which slots down inside in a couple of seconds. Cartridges are available in two capacities, of 1500 and 2200 pages. A 1500-page cartridge is supplied with the machine, rather than a low-yield "starter" cartridge.
The printer offers three ways of connecting: USB, 10/100 Ethernet and, the most versatile, Wi-Fi link. With a wireless connection, you can print through AirPrint, from HP’s own Android App, or remotely, via ePrint.
The printer driver is pretty standard fare, with presets for many common tasks, such as printing labels, booklets or transparencies. There are several ways of increasing the economy of your print, though oddly, clicking on EcoSMART settings doesn’t switch on Economode print, to save toner.
HP claims a generous print speed of 25ppm for the LaserJet Pro M201dw but, as with most ISO speed measurements, this doesn’t include the time it takes to process a print job prior to printing. The fastest time we recorded from the machine was 17.9ppm for the 20-page text document.
This is in part due to the printer taking up to 18s to prepare for printing, around twice as long as, for example, the Canon iSENSYS LBP6230dw. That printer, though £20 cheaper, has a measured top speed on the same document of 20.3ppm.
Running our 5-page text test on the HP machine reduces the measured speed to 10.7ppm, less than half the claimed speed. This is true of Economode, too, a setting which reduces toner use, while maintaining print quality to near-normal levels. You should be able to set Economode as default for nearly all printing.
Printing the 5-page text and graphics test gives a slightly increased speed of 11.5ppm, since only one page image has to be rendered. Printing the 20-page document in duplex mode gave 12.2 sides per minute. A 15 x 10cm photo image from a PC took 19s, though a similar image from a Samsung Galaxy smart phone took 49s.
Although none of these speeds are close to the rated 25ppm, in normal office use the machine is adequately fast.
Print quality from the HP LaserJet Pro M201dw is very good. The default resolution of 600dpi is enough to ensure smooth edges to curves and diagonals and text is sharp and well-defined.
Graphics are also good, though greyscale fills are a little patchy. There’s enough differentiation between different grey shades, though and photographs are well detailed even in the difficult, darker areas.
Using the more economical, high-capacity cartridge gives a page cost of 3.5p, including 0.7p for paper. This is high, even for this class of printer, where we would expect figures closer to 3p. It does depend, of course, on how cheaply you can find the cartridges.
As you may have guessed, there’s quite a bit of competition for mono laser printers in this price range. We’ve already mentioned the Canon iSENSYS LBP6230dw, which is cheaper to buy and run, slightly faster when printing and gives similar print quality, though it is a smaller machine, intended for individual use.
You could also consider the £155 Dell B2360d which, although it offers no wireless connection, received a recommendation when we reviewed it, for its high-speed and 1200dpi resolution.
The HP LaserJet Pro M201dw is a perfectly adequate home-office mono laser printer, with good print quality, duplex print and the versatility of a wireless connection. It’s not particularly cheap to run, though, and the print speed is nowhere near what HP claims, if you look at the complete print cycle. Economode print will save you toner and most people will never notice the difference.