HP OfficeJet Pro 251dw review - perfect for small businesses and cheap to run

The 251dw provides very affordable cost-per-page

HP seems determined to push its inkjet printers up-market and get them into people’s offices as well their homes. Following on from the high-speed OfficeJet X551dw, which was aimed at larger organisations, it has now come up with the OfficeJet Pro 251dw for smaller businesses. The 251dw can’t match the speed of the X551dw, but it’s fast enough for most small business, and offers high quality printing with very competitive running costs.

As well as a standard USB port, the 251dw includes both Ethernet and wifi networking, with support for AirPrint so that you can print straight from your iOS devices. The paper tray holds 250-sheets with a recommended duty cycle of 1500 pages per month, and two-sided printing, which should meet the needs of most small businesses and home workers. The only disappointment here is that the 251dw doesn’t include a scanner as well. However, there is a multifunction version called the 276dw that includes both a scanner and an automatic document feeder for £260.00.

But while the 251dw might seem expensive for basic single-function printer, it does compensate by providing very good running costs. The standard black ink cartridge costs £22.00 and lasts for about 1000 pages, which works out at 2.2p per page. That’s not at all bad, but if you step up to the XL size black cartridge then you’ll get 2300 pages for £28.00, which comes to just 1.2p per page. 

Colour printing is competitive too, even though the cyan, magenta and yellow cartridges are only available in one size. Each cartridge costs £23.00 – a total of £69.00 for all three – and lasts for 1500 pages, which comes to a very competitive 4.6p per page. Take the costs for mono and colour printing together, and the 251dw is one of the most cost-efficient inkjet printers we’ve seen so far. 

Performance is a bit of a mixed bag though. Mono printing is rated at 20ppm, and our tests came close to that, continuously churning out pages at a rate of 18ppm. Text quality doesn’t quite match the crisp, smoothness of a laser printer, but is still perfectly adequate for day-to-day business documents. 

Graphics output is good too, and the 251dw also provides PostScript 3 emulation, so it’ll be a good, affordable option for users of design software such as Illustrator or inDesign. But when it came to printing documents containing both text and colour graphics the 251dw seemed to pause for a few seconds between each page. As a result, it fell well short of HP’s estimate of 15ppm and produced a more modest 8ppm.   

Photo printing wasn’t very fast either, taking around 40 seconds for a 4x6 print. However, photo quality was good for a basic four-colour printer, and the 251dw can certainly cope with the occasional photo print or glossy brochure.

OUR VERDICT

The OfficeJet Pro 251dw isn’t perfect. Its colour printing could definitely be faster, and the lack of a built-in scanner is disappointing in a printer costing almost £200.00. Even so, it provides good quality for text, graphics and photos, and its highly competitive running costs make it an excellent choice for home workers and small businesses.

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