Top laser printers: ZDNet's guide to the best

Summary:Printers can be painfully cruel machines. In an attempt to prevent you and your office from going postal from choosing your next office enemy, here is ZDNet's roundup of the best monochrome and color laser printers.

Printers can be so, so cruel.

A misbehaving printer can make a work day a living nightmare. Paper jams. Read errors. Sitting there waiting for more documents to print, happy as a clam, while you pace back and forth from your office to the printer wondering how the report you sent to be printed got lost on the way.

Ctrl+P, indeed.

It's not something we do very often, but when it's time to actually replace the laser printer in your office (as opposed to slap it, pull at it, curse at it, and even destroy it), it feels a bit like self-betrayal. It's like shopping for your next enemy.

It doesn't have to be that way.

In an attempt to prevent you and your office from going postal -- again -- here is ZDNet's roundup of the best monochrome and color laser printers, from inexpensive to more expensive.

Monochrome

Brother HL-2140: Petite powerhouse

For the smallest of offices -- or your home -- the Brother HL-2140 doesn't disappoint. At almost 14.5 inches square, it's small enough to fit on your desk and still crank out 22 pages per minute, albeit one-sided only. Thanks to its size, the HL-2140's tray fits just 250 pages, but at less than $100, how can you go wrong?

[read the review] [compare] [check prices: as low as $79.99]

HP LaserJet 1012: Light-duty lion

A lot of features come with the HP LaserJet 1012, including double-sided printing and a watermark feature and solid performance, at 15 pages per minute. With 160 sheet-capacity, though, it's best suited to shorter jobs.

[read the review] [compare] [check prices: as low as $99]

HP LaserJet 1320: Compact champion

The LaserJet 1320 has been around the block. Introduced back in 2004, this printer has two-sided printing and Mac compatibility, as well as 21 pages per minute from a 14-in. square footprint. You'll have to pay a little more for networking and an extra paper tray, but for the price, you can't go wrong.

[read the review] [compare] [check prices: as low as $120]

Samsung ML-1630: Sexy scribe

It's not the fastest printer on the block -- at 16 pages per minute -- nor the most feature-filled for the price, yet the Samsung ML-1630 has undeniable visual appeal. If you need to get away from the beige-and-gray gadget crowd, this one's for you. Just remember that it only holds 100 pages in its tray.

[read the review] [compare] [check prices: as low as $154.99]

Samsung ML-2851ND: All-around superstar

Fast as a whip at 30 pages per minute, with built-in two sided printing and network-ready, the Samsung ML-2851ND hits all the right notes. This is the best small-office printer out there. Make sure to get the 2851ND, as the 2851N omits the duplexer, the 2851D omits the networking and the 2851 omits both.

[read the review] [compare] [check prices: as low as $164.99]

Dell 1720dn: Ambitious ace

Inexpensive overall and per page, the Dell 1720dn boasts excellent print quality and speed to match, at 30 pages per minute. Add in Dell support, built-in networking and two-sided printing and you've got yourself an asset in the office.

[read the review] [compare] [check prices: as low as $290]

HP LaserJet P2015dn: Multipurpose monster

At 27 pages per minute, the HP LaserJet P2015dn is pretty fast. Add networking and two-sided printing -- plus a multipurpose tray and 1200dpi abilities -- this printer's ready to handle a small office queue. It's a little on the expensive side, but low per-page costs and 24/7 support make it a contender.

[read the review] [compare] [check prices: as low as $300]

Color

HP Color LaserJet 3500: Big Bertha

Need a quality color laser printer, but don't expect to need much more than that? The HP Color LaserJet 3500 might do the trick. At a high-quality 12 pages per minute, this printer is a solid worker. Make sure you have the space, though, since it takes up 18 inches in each direction.

[read the review] [compare] [check prices: as low as $365]

Xerox Phaser 6130/N: Miniature major leaguer

The Xerox Phaser 6130 might be miniature, but it can play in the big leagues. This color laser printer produces up to 12 pages per minute color and 16 per minute monochrome, is network-ready, and holds 250 sheets in its tray. It's ready for duty.

[product page] [compare] [check prices: as low as $374]

Brother MFC-9440CN: Business big shot

A review by our sister site CNET called it a "sublime combination of fast speeds with high-quality output," and that's exactly why we recommend the Brother MFC-9440CN. It may not have a duplexer, but this top-scanner machine has consistently fast task speeds, expandable paper handling and memory, it's network-ready and a security feature. Top of the pops for bigger offices.

[read the review] [compare] [check prices: as low as $379]

Lexmark C532dn: VIP of value

This champion of color is also the best value of the bunch. The Lexmark C532dn offers fast prints, excellent print quality, a built-in duplexer and networking and expandable on-board memory. Up to 24 pages per minute for under $600 seals the deal.

[read the review] [compare] [check prices: as low as $598]

HP Color LaserJet 2840: Automatic all-star

With solid prints, an easy-to-use interface, digital memory card slots, an automatic document feeder and support for PCs and Macs, this network-ready machine is ready to roll. Offers 20 pages per minute and holds 375 sheets in its tray, and multifunction abilities means you can get rid of your old scanner, copier and fax machine.

[read the review] [compare] [check prices: as low as $734]

Have a laser printer recommendation? Find it in ZDNet Reviews and add it to this list by posting your suggestion in TalkBack.

Topics: Hewlett-Packard, Hardware, Networking, Printers

About

Andrew Nusca is a former writer-editor for ZDNet and contributor to CNET. He is also the former editor of SmartPlanet, ZDNet's sister site about innovation. He writes about business, technology and design now but used to cover finance, fashion and culture. He was an intern at Money, Men's Vogue, Popular Mechanics and the New York Daily Ne... Full Bio

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