The LaserJet 1300 has a bit more of an industrial design than several of the other printers in this group. It's a mass of curves in virtually every direction, with a concave front and a valley in its top which makes it stand out from the crowd. The design isn't completely thought through though, as A4 paper has a tendency to slide off the front of the machine when ejected onto its top cover. You can slide the paper rest forward, but this reveals three awkward dust traps and an edge which catches on sheets as theyâ€™re fed out.
A single, 250-sheet tray slots into the front of the printer and an optional second tray of the same capacity can be fitted underneath. No duplexer is available for the LaserJet 1300, but a multifunction tray is built into the default trayâ€™s top cover and can take up to 10 sheets of specialist media or envelopes. A single button with two indicators provides demo printing and shows ready status and printer errors. All other controls are provided via the printer driver.
The front cover folds down to access the all-in-one drum and toner unit, which slides deep into the bowels of the machine when you close the cover again. Itâ€™s nonetheless very easy to maintain, though the page yield of just 2,500 sheets may be a little low for a printer with workgroup pretensions.
HP's printer driver includes instructions for manual duplexing, and can add watermarks to your prints. It also offers page impositions, so you can print from two to 16 pages per sheet. The LaserJet toolbox, a separate piece of software, provides detail of toner usage and advanced printer settings through your Internet browser.
Connection can be made through either the USB 2.0 or parallel interface on the printerâ€™s back panel and it supports a wide range of different operating systems, including Linux and UNIX as well as the more obvious Windows and Mac OS.
HP rates the LaserJet 1300 at 19 pages per minute and under test it completed our 20 page text document in one minute 11 seconds; so not far out. The paper path through the printer is short, so the first page is delivered quickly â€“ HP claims eight seconds.
The combined text and graphics document completed in 24 seconds, close to the average within this group. The five by three inch photo print, at the printer's top resolution of 1,200dpi, took very nearly the same time, finishing in 23 seconds. The photo print time is about the same as from the Epson machine at the same resolution.
Print quality is generally high with opaque, black text and good, largely band-free areas of shading. The 1,200dpi photo looks a bit misty and there's some slight blotchiness in areas of tint, such as sky. However for a laser printer, whose majority workload will be day-to-day text documents, this is one of the better results.
Noise level was at the lower end of the group and subjectively the types of sound generated werenâ€™t as annoying as, for example, from the Canon and Epson.
An integral drum and toner cartridge for the LaserJet 1300 costs under Â£55 and, although it has a comparatively low yield of 2,500 pages at five per cent, this still gives a cost per page of 2.7p, beating printers like the Canon and Epson.
The HP is a mid-priced printer with a more stylish design than many and is easy to maintain and use. Performance, print quality and running costs are all in the middle of the range and although its purchase price is a little above average, this is still a respectable choice.