- Review Price: £247.50
Colour laser printers continue to get more discreet and multifunction printers based on colour laser mechanisms are also reducing in size. This sleek new multifunction from HP is little bigger than a typical single-function laser from 2007, and is aimed at the SOHO market, or possibly even a family resource.
Looking like a small set of library steps, the Color LaserJet CM1312 is decked out in cream and something approaching black and the simple, curved lines look strangely elegant.
Working from the top down, under the cream lid is a simple, A4 flatbed scanner and the control panel is backed up by a two-line by 16-character LCD display. Although this hasn’t a backlight, it is angled forwards and contrast is high enough to be read in normal overhead light.
Controls are fairly typical for a laser-based multifunction printer, but the large, raised button which cycles left and right through menu options when you press either end of it, has an OK button set within it, which makes it fiddly to use.
Unusually, the scanner section of the machine doesn’t hinge up, but there’s sufficient space between it and the printer section to rescue any paper that might get jammed. The printer section has a very rounded front, which is a hinged cover giving direct access to the cartridges. Below this is a barely adequate, 150-sheet paper tray.
Just above the tray is a hinged cover, which we at first thought might hide a single-sheet feed. In fact, it’s labelled ‘Front door for jam access’. To get at paper jams you’d have to lift this cover and remove the paper tray below to be able to get a hand in.
When you fold down the printer’s front cover there’s an inset handle, which pulls out a tray holding four and near-identical drum and toner cartridges, making this a particularly easy colour laser to maintain – remarkable in a device at this price.
The single software CD includes custom-made HP software for scanning, copying and printing, as well as a copy of ReadIris OCR software. The installation program includes animated instructions for setup, which makes the whole process very easy.
The Color LaserJet CM1312 is not going to win any printing races. HP reckons the machine can print 12ppm in black and 8ppm in colour, which would be reasonable but, as usual, we couldn’t reach those speeds. Our five-page, black text test piece took 48 seconds to complete, giving a real-world, black print speed of 6.25ppm.
The five-page, colour text and graphics document took 63 seconds, or an equivalent of 4.76ppm, so both results are little over half the rated figures. Since this is an in-line design it’s not obvious why a colour print should take a third longer to print than black, either.
A 15 x 10cm photo took 32 seconds to print and a single page copy took 38 seconds, which is reasonable given that this model has no Auto Document Feeder (ADF). The Color LaserJet CM1312nfi does have one, along with fax modem, a network adapter and a price tag around £70 higher.
The photo print, like all the prints, uses HP’s patented ColourSphere toner which, as the name suggests, is more spherical than most. Even so, it was rather over-coloured and a little garish. While detail levels are good, and there’s no noticeable banding, some shadow detail is lost and the colour gamut appears reduced.
The colour brightness that overawed our photo print is ideal for business graphics and the colours in our text and graphics page look bright and confident. This is the kind of colour output you’d be happy to let your clients see and the colour photocopies we took are very close in colour to the original they were copied from. They don’t suffer the kind of tonal fading we often see.
Black text, even though printed at the machine’s default 600dpi resolution, is crisp and clean, giving a very smooth and professional appearance to text documents
The only running costs on this machine are the combined drum and toner cartridges, which are rated at 2,200 pages for black and 1,400 pages for each of the colours. These capacities are very similar to those of some recent business, colour inkjet printers, including HP’s own OfficeJet Pro K5400n. That machine is considerably cheaper to run, too, with page costs of 1.59p for black and 4.30p for colour.
This laser machine costs 2.70p for black pages and a whopping 11.17p for colour which, although not that expensive compared with other lasers with similar purchase prices, does show how inkjet technology is making a major push into the business arena, which has long been laser territory.
The simple design and easy setup and maintenance of the Color LaserJet CM1312 make it very endearing, but there are a couple of odd design choices that may let it down. A paper tray holding only 150 sheets on a machine designed for office use is an odd restriction and although many people will be able to live with the comparatively slow speed, few may be prepared to pay over 10p for every colour page they print or copy. If you can live with these restrictions, however, it’ll make a fine choice.
Score in detail
Print Speed 7
Print Quality 9
|Paper Size||A4, A5, A6, B5 (ISO) Envelope, B5 (JIS), Letter, Legal, Executive, Envelope No. 10, Monarch, 76 mm x 127 mm, 216 mm x 356 mm|
|Sheet Capacity||150 sheets|
|Rated Black Speed (Images per minute)||12 ppmipm|
|Rated Colour Speed (Images per minute)||8 ppmipm|
|Scan Resolution (Dots per inch)||1200dpi|