HP 4300n emulates a laser printing press

Fine-tuning engines and recalibrating gears is what goes on inside a NASCAR garage. It also happens in printer makers' laboratories.

How do we know? The GCN Lab has watched laser printer output speeds rise steadily over the last few years. Only yesterday, it seems, Xerox Corp. was boasting about breaking the 30-page-per-minute barrier. Color and monochrome printers in the 30-plus-ppm range are commonplace today.

Now Hewlett-Packard Co. has raised the bar to 45 ppm. The LaserJet 4300n is the fastest printer the lab has tested, meeting or exceeding its 45-ppm rating in our extensive tests'at least with the kind of documents for which it is tuned.

This monochrome laser chewed through documents as fast as the paper could be pushed out. It finished our 30-page text-only document in 49 seconds, even though the single-spaced pages were full of special characters. It took only eight seconds to finish the first page.

Efficient toner fixing

Paper flew out to a 'chunk-chunk' rhythm that sounded like a miniature printing press. Pages emerged dry, so the toner-fixing process worked efficiently, but they did feel uncomfortably warm as they piled up.

Based on the warm paper, we'd recommend you make sure to keep this printer's side vents clear, or overheating could occur.

The 4300n slowed down on our 30-page graphical document composed of text, complex images and text over graphics. It took four minutes, 42 seconds to complete the test, slower by at least a minute than most other color printers that we've tested with images.

Also, the 4300n did a poor job of layering text over graphics, losing some letters where they overlapped a photo.

We suspect the reason for the graphical slowdown was the printer's 64M of standard memory. Offices that print a lot of graphics could order extra memory up to 416M. The 350-MHz processor seemed adequate for all jobs, however.

The toner cartridge is supposed to last for 18,000 pages, which makes the 4300n suitable for medium to fairly large workgroups, and its duty cycle of 200,000 pages per month is truly impressive.

About the Author

John Breeden II is a freelance technology writer for GCN.

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