Hewlett-Packard LaserJet 1020

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Hewlett-Packard LaserJet 1020

Pros

  • Small, cheap

Cons

  • Poor print quality

Bottom Line

Small size and a low price make the HP LaserJet 1020 a good fit for a home office in which space is at a premium and occasional printing jobs don't require the utmost in speed, quality and economy.

Would you buy this?

  • Buy now (Selling at 7 stores)

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If you don't print constantly and you're prepared to stash your paper supply in a drawer between uses, the $149 HP LaserJet 1020 can help you make the most of your precious home-office space. With its paper tray flipped up, it folds into a neat box with a small footprint, one of the smallest laser printer we've seen in a laser printer. And if it stays closed most of the time, you may not notice the high cost of printing each page. HP rates available toner cartridges (using the industry standard) to yield only 2000 pages of output, so this isn't a printer for heavy use.

Like other budget lasers, the LaserJet 1020 keeps its price low by enlisting your PC's processing power to do the hard work. Windows renders the pages, allowing the printer to concentrate on feeding the raw data to its engine. In our speed tests, text pages printed at 12.3 pages per minute, a slightly slower rate than most small-office lasers we've tested managed. Graphics printed at a more reasonable 8.9ppm.

The LaserJet 1020's text quality failed to impress us. We noted fuzzy edges, particularly at the bottom of each character, and italics looked hazy. The line art sample seemed a bit shaky, though it showed almost no horizontal banding. Our greyscale photo acquired a gritty texture and lacked sufficient contrast.

The paper tray holds up to 150 sheets and can cope with legal-size paper. You'll have to feed envelopes one at a time through the manual slot just above the paper tray. With only two lights, the LaserJet 1020's control panel is about as simplest you can find, leaving almost everything to the Windows printer driver to handle. A hard-copy Getting Started Guide comes bundled with the printer, but the CD-ROM includes short animated sequences that are perfect for walking a beginner through setting up the printer and installing the software.

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