How to Choose the Right HP Laser Printer
This document will discuss HP naming conventions to help you decide what features you need.
HP uses letters after a printer name to communicate included extra features on a model. Here are what the letters mean:
d = duplexing (two-sided printing). This is a strongly recommended feature unless you are 100% sure that you will never do two-sided printing.
n = wired network capability (aka included Ethernet port)
t = extra paper tray. Doesn't specify quantity or size - either 250 or 500 sheet trays and usually 1 or 2 of them. Please heck the product description.
w = wireless. May also include a wired port (you won't see nw listed).
x = includes all extra features. Sometimes includes features not available on other models such as a hard drive, better screen, wheeled stand, etc.
HP Printer Features
Duty Cycle = The maximum number of pages this printer should ever be handling per month. This is NOT an average workload, printing at this level on a regular basis will wear out the printer quickly.
Recommended Monthly Volume = The average number of pages per month this printer is designed to handle.
Print Languages = Most people want a version of PCL, this means the print job will look the same no matter what computer it is printed from. If it is not PCL, that means it is host based, which means it pulls print information from the local machine and layout/look might differ on different machines.
Print Quality = The print resolution of the printer. This doesn't matter much because laser printers are fairly high resolution. 600x600 is standard, higher end models will be 1200 x 1200.
Media Sizes = What sizes of paper this printer can support. Every HP model will support up to legal (8.5" x 13") but wide format models will list 11" x 17" or 13" x 19". Wide format printing adds significant expense to the cost of the printer.
Media Types = What type of paper this printer can use. Only use paper that is listed here or the printer may jam or break.
Media Weight = Maximum thickness of paper supported. Only use paper that is listed here or the printer may jam or break.
First Page Out = How fast the first page will print after waking up from sleep mode. If the printer is not used often, this can be annoying.
Memory = This will list the standard amount of memory and how much further it can be upgraded. Most lower end printers can't add memory but higher end models may have an open RAM slot. You can use the Crucial upgrade tool to find the correct RAM for the model. Most users don't need to upgrade the standard memory unless they are regularly printing very large file sizes.
Initial Toner = All HP laser printers ship with initial/setup toner cartridges. These are often 50% full but needed for the initial setup of the printer. These cartridges must be used before a replacement toner cartridge is used.
Questions to Ask Yourself to Help You Choose Your Model
1. How many people will be using this printer? (This will determine the size of the printer you need.)
2. Do you need to be able to print in color? (This reduces your options by 50% and could save you money if you intend to only print in black and white.)
3. Do you just want to print or do you want to scan/copy/fax as well? (This will further reduce the models and save you money if you don't need those features.)
4. Do you need any additional features? (Common examples for duplex/wireless/wired)
5. How many pages do you expect to print per month on average? (This should help you choose the final model)
Some printer models include additional possible add-ons like an extra paper tray or more memory.
To see possible add-ons, visit HP's store for that model.
For memory, you can use the Crucial memory configurator to see what memory will work in the printer - it will work just the same as official HP memory and is often 1/10th the cost.
Wide Format Printers
Any questions about this guide or HP Laser printers in general should be directed to Nick Reynolds at firstname.lastname@example.org or (608) 262-2406