Though color inkjets, multifunction printers, high-res photo printers and other sexy devices have largely won over the battle for consumer living rooms, monochrome laser printers like HP’s P2035n continue to serve as the backbone of most home office and small business operations. Speed and text quality remain the laser printer’s biggest selling points, and the P2035n excels at both, but cost of operating isn’t quite as low as some of its competitors.
Features and Design
HP positions the P2035n as a printer with the speed and quality of a business machine, with a much smaller footprint and price more befitting a machine for home or small office use. The size comparison is relative, of course. It measures nowhere near as tall or large as the skyscraper-esque multifunction machines you’re used to seeing in corporate offices and Kinkos, but we wouldn’t call it appropriate for many desktops, either. A footprint of over 14 inches square height of 10 inches makes it quite a monolith when you set it down next to a monitor or keyboard, so it’s definitely befitting of its own shelf (reinforced to handle all 24 pounds of it) or tabletop.
Specs include resolution up to 1200 DPI, speed of up to 30 pages per minute, a 250-page letter tray and 50-page multipurpose tray, and both parallel and USB inputs. The “n” in P2035n designates built-in networking capability, which you’ll pay an extra $70 for ($300, rather than $230). Unfortunately, this machine will only duplex (print on both sides of the page) manually, meaning you must print your pages, re-orient the pages in the printer, then send them through again. Like a lot of old-school office printers, this model also has no LCD display to let you know what’s going on inside – just six LED indicator lights with somewhat cryptic symbols.
HP has clearly had a chance to refine its formula for a consumer-friendly laser printer setup over the years, and it shows in the polished and nearly foolproof way the P2035N has been packaged. A series of large-print instruction booklets (packaged on top of the printer so they can’t be missed), brightly colored flags hanging out of the printer, and orange plastic pieces to be intuitively removed make it easy to prep the printer out of the box. And if you’re really hurting for help, putting in the CD breaks it down in a clean and simple animation worthy of Nick Jr. We would criticize the lack of a proper printed user guide in the box, but since you’ll need the aforementioned install CD to set the printer up anyway, it doesn’t really make sense to include one separately.
Software installation is just as simple as getting the hardware together. Pop in the CD, sit back, and follow the step-by-step directions. Even connecting it to a network, which we expected to be a convoluted process full of IP addresses, firewall settings and other network drudgery, turned out to be a simple two-minute process that worked flawlessly without any tweaking.
Use & Testing
Both text and images printed with the P2035n looked superb, with none of the muddiness and dark overtones we’re used to seeing from speedy laser printers. Test blocks of test were legible down to 4 points – and beyond – even with goofy fonts. Where other printers tended to mute the contrast in overly dark images by washing everything with gray, the P2035n preserved contrast and minute details, producing clearer reproductions with more pop.
Though the “30 pages-per-minute” metric tells you how long you’ll be waiting for 200 pages of a manual to pour out, the real test of interest to most people is how long a printer takes to spit out its first page. After all, most print jobs are one-off affairs you need in a hurry, not book reproductions.
If it had four wheels, the P2035n would be a Top Fuel dragster. In a simple one-page document print test, it managed to spit out a text page in just 7.5 seconds – from pressing “print” to hot page in hand. By the time you get up from your chair and walk across the room to pick it up, it’s done. By contrast, our Dell Laser MFP 1815dn, a multi-function monster that handles just about everything around the office, completed the same test in 27.8 seconds. For zipping off those printed directions before hitting the road, or printing off a contract for a waiting buyer, that’s 20 less seconds you’re standing around listening to rollers spin.
Unfortunately, very much like a Top Fuel dragster, this printer doesn’t get from point A to B quietly. It’s not quite combusting nitromethane in there, but you will hear the unmuffled whir of rollers and paper being pushed around, which is notably louder than most other lasers. Fortunately, it only lasts while pages are still filtering through. You’ll only hear the spin of a fan for a few seconds while it cools down before utter silence.
The cartridge included with the P2035n is technically a “starter” cartridge, meaning it will get you going with the unit (about 1,000 pages), but won’t supply the maximum yield this printer is capable of. A full cartridge goes for $89 from HP, and should deliver about 2,300 pages. That works out to about 3.8 cents per page, which can actually be considered on the pricy side for this category. High volume machines can do the job for around 2 cents per page, and even Xerox’s comparably priced Phaser 3250 offers a cartridge for the same price, but good for 3,500 pages, lowering cost to 2.5 cents per page.
At around the $300 MSRP, many competitors manage to offer wireless networking, multifunction capabilities, or lower operating cost – all factors that weaken the appeal of the P2035n. But now that it can be found around $200, we confidently recommend it, even without all the bells and whistles. The sheer speed and image quality on this printer are both major wow factors, and we count these among the most important features in a printer, outweighing the few minor complaints that stack against this printer.
- Ultra-simple guided setup
- Quick to print first pages
- Excellent text and image quality
- Somewhat loud during printing
- High cost of operating
- “Starter” cartridge included
- No LCD screen, auto duplexing