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HP Color Laserjet 4500 9/10

When most people think of laser printers, they think of Hewlett-Packard machines. Why do they think of HP? Because HP has such a long history in producing printers in general. Even though HP are one of the most popular makes of computers, people still think of them as being printer manufacturers. This HP Color Laserjet 4500 is a big machine. It dwarfs the HP Laserjet 4M Plus, and virtually all other A4 mono printers. Essentially it is four printers in one. There are several different cartridges in the machine, black, cyan, magenta and yellow. Whenever, you print a colour document, each cartridge prints onto the paper separately. Consequently it takes four times as long to print colour documents. If you are printing mono documents, you should select the mono setting to ensure the printer does not unnecessarily cycle through the other colours. The printer driver has various other setting to tailor the output such as "Gloss Finish". This adds a gloss finish to documents printed on ordinary paper. You can also manually specify the paper type you are using (but the printer also does have an auto setting to determine the paper type). The driver also supports ColorSmart II technology for colour calibration to ensure the colour you see on your scanner, screen and printer match. Four pages per second are printed in colour and sixteen per minute in mono. It takes a few minutes to warm up, but once it has warmed up, no matter how full the page is the speed of the printing is constant, unlike inkjet printers. There are two paper trays, one at the bottom of the printer for several hundred sheets of paper and a lower volume tray at the middle of the printer.

The quality of the output is excellent with text and colour photos. The native 600x600 dpi is not as high as the 1200x1200 available on other printers but it does not make much difference. Even on ordinary plain paper, photos look good. They look even better on the slightly more expensive HP Laserjet paper. The printer is obviously more expensive than an A4 inkjet. However, you must take into account the running costs are much less, with the paper and cartridges being cheaper. The cartridge although more expensive than an inkjet printers, last a lot (lot) longer. So if you regularly use a colour printer, it makes sense to buy this Color Laserjet as opposed to cheaper inkjet printers. The quality of the output is different to that of an ordinary inkjet (since lasers use a dot pattern, rather than error diffusion), but is still excellent and very precise. The type of output looks similar to that in magazines.

You can buy an "N" model which can be plugged directly into a 10/100 network and a "DN" model which also offers duplex printing by slotting on another unit (which I suspect would make this machine too large for most offices). This model prints through a parallel port like virtually all other printers. A network interface can be bought at a later date to turn it into an "N" model. There is also a USB interface card, which should be quicker than the parallel interface (but slower and less versatile than the network interface).

There are cheaper colour laser printers around, it's essentially your choice whether you'd like to pay that bit extra for the HP. If you do end up buying this HP, you will not be disappointed, just make sure you're desk won't collapse under this very heavy machine!