HP Colour LaserJet Pro M177fw review

The M177fw is an odd device. In some ways it’s an absolute bargain, providing a versatile multifunction colour laser printer at a price of just £274. That’s well within the reach of small businesses and home workers who need laser-quality output for their office documents.

However, it’s relatively slow for a laser printer and the high cost of HP’s toner cartridges mean that it’s only suitable for very light use.

It might not be the cheapest colour laser currently available, but the M177fw is more versatile than many of its low-cost rivals. As well as its 600 x 600 dpi print resolution, the M177fw also includes a 1200 dpi scanner and copier, along with a 35-sheet automatic document feeder.

It includes both ethernet and Wi-Fi for connecting to your office network, and supports Apple’s AirPrint for iOS devices.

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The 150-sheet input tray is relatively small, as is the recommended printing volume of around 950 pages-per-month. But those limitations may still be adequate for many smaller offices. Our only real complaint here is that there’s no automatic duplex (two-sided) printing. There is a manual duplex option, but feeding the pages in by hand isn’t something that you’ll want to do very often.

Print quality is excellent, though, with the smooth, crisp text that you’d expect from a laser printer. Graphics output is equally good, and the M177fw produces good results when printing photos, with little banding or graininess to mar the image.

Our printing tests suggested a speed of 13.5 pages per minute for mono documents. That’s a little slower than HP’s quoted speed of 16ppm, but still adequate for a printer in this price range.

We thought that the 4 ppm quoted by HP for colour documents was a printing error – until we ran our own text-and-graphics tests and achieved a speed of just 3 ppm.

Oddly, though, the M177fw can manage an A4 photo print on plain paper in just 55 seconds, which isn’t bad going at all.

We were mainly disappointed by the printer’s running costs. The M177fw includes a ‘starter’ set of toner cartridges that should last for about 500 pages, but replacement cartridges cost £57 for the black toner, while the cyan, magenta and yellow colour cartridges cost £59 each. The black cartridge is specified to last for 1300 pages, which works out at 4.4p per page. That’s well above average for a laser printer, where costs are typically closer to 1 or 2p per page..

Colour printing is even more expensive. The three colour cartridges should last for about 1000 pages, and their combined cost adds up to a quite extravagant 17.7p per page.

The M177fw does offer an ‘economode’ option, but as well as reducing the print quality HP’s web site warns that regular use of this mode could damage the toner cartridges. Which doesn’t exactly inspire confidence.

OUR VERDICT

The initial £274.00 price tag for the M177fw is good value for money, as it does provide excellent print quality and useful connectivity features. Its slow colour printing might also acceptable for small businesses that only need to print occasional colour documents. However, running costs for both colour and mono printing are above average, which means that the M177fw can only be recommended for small businesses that need true laser-quality on a very occasional basis.

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