Stories by Dan Littman

HP LaserJet 1300

SAN FRANCISCO (10/08/2003) - WHAT'S HOT: Hewlett-Packard Co.'s LaserJet 1300 prints text at a speedy 15.2 pages per minute when connected to a single PC via USB--certainly fast enough to justify the printer's higher-than-average US$399 price tag. PC World tests all SOHO printers over USB, but note that you can attach the 1300 to an ethernet network with an optional $200 card. We liked the 1300's clean, smooth text, which didn't look patchy or broken-up despite its somewhat light cast. The 1300 also printed narrow parallel lines distinctly. Getting the printer running was easy even without HP's cartoonish setup poster--we just plugged it in and dropped the CD into the CD-ROM drive. The on-screen documentation provides great detail on everything else about the printer.

Dell M5200n

SAN FRANCISCO (10/08/2003) - WHAT'S HOT: The Dell Inc. M5200n's US$999 price tag makes this one of the least expensive lasers printers boasting corporate amenities. The M5200n is essentially a relabeled Lexmark T630n, so we weren't surprised that it's fast--we clocked it printing text at a fiery 22.9 pages per minute. The M5200n produced top-quality black text, and it fared well on narrow parallel lines; it even managed to print adequate gray-scale photos--a tough challenge for monochrome lasers--even though the pics weren't exactly attractive. It comes with built-in ethernet and a 500-sheet paper tray, as well as a 100-sheet auxiliary tray, so your office can keep both plain paper and letterhead loaded. The control panel's LCD has hierarchical menus, and its clearly labeled buttons always correspond to choices in the menu commands. Operating the printer is easy, but if you get lost, the thorough though somewhat rambling printed and on-screen documentation offer guidance. Dell's driver includes some useful features for end users, such as a print-and-hold setting that lets you store a confidential job in the printer's memory until you're ready to collect the output. For system administrators, the driver has an account-tracking feature and a tool for configuring driver settings and distributing them to users.

Samsung ML-1750

SAN FRANCISCO (10/08/2003) - WHAT'S HOT: When we first unpacked the Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd. ML-1750 we were impressed by how tiny it is--only about 14 inches wide by 14 inches deep and 7 inches high. The US$249 price tag also made a great impression. The on-screen documentation proved clear and thorough. The printer churned out graphics at 7.4 pages per minute--fast enough to keep up with some corporate lasers.

Dell A920

WHAT'S HOT: A price of US$89 is inexpensive for a single-function ink jet printer, but for a multifunction printer that also scans and copies, it's extremely low. The Dell A920 scanned both text documents and colour images at speeds faster than the test-bed average for ink jet MFPs we've tested. PC World's output jury didn't like everything the A920 produced, but we thought it scanned and copied well enough for everyday use. Its printed text looked pretty sharp too, though up close we noticed a slight choppiness around the edges of the letters. The A920 printed glossy photos with realistic colors and sharp focus, though they also showed a somewhat grainy texture.