In a small office, this printer fits neatly into the market between standard ink-jet and colour-laser. It isn’t as fast as a colour laser, but it’s capable of similar quality on the right paper. It’s fasterthan a normal ink-jet, and it has more paper capacity. In the right environment, the 2250tn offers a cheap colour-solution for jobs that traditionally would be printed on a mono laser-printer.
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Hewlett-Packard is one of the leaders in both ink-jet and colour-laser printing, and each method has its merits. The problem is that there is a gap between the functionality and price of the two. HP has remedied this with a range of ink-jet printers offering laser-type features. We looked at the network-ready version – the Business InkJet 2250tn. The 2250tn looks like an over-sized ink-jet printer. There’s a reason for this: it houses both ethernet and memory – absent from most ink-jets, which usually rely on the Mac’s processor to control the printer. The 2250tn has 24MB RAM, which helps process the images. It also sports a Level-2 PostScript processor that enables printing directly from QuarkXPress or Adobe Illustrator, something at which most ink-jets fail miserably. Lack of PostScript normally means that vector-graphics applications don’t print properly on cheaper ink-jets. The price is definitely ink-jet. Even at £789, it’s at least half the price of a colour laser, which also requires more maintenance than ink-jets. Toner can be messy, and other consumables, such as fuser oil and drums, can make keeping a colour laser-printer working a full-time job. The 2250tn has more consumables than a normal ink-jet, but nothing too confusing. Its ink cartridges are huge. If the smaller printers could use this size, it would save a lot of money. It would also cut down the panic dashes to Computer World when you run out of ink half-way through a big job. The printheads are separate from the ink cartridges, meaning their life is extended. This, however, doubles the number of consumables needed. This isn’t as bad as with colour lasers, but is more complicated than a home ink-jet. Speed is a big issue when it comes to office printing. But unfortunately, this printer’s speed is not easily measured. Because ink-jet printers take longer to print pages with more coverage, times per-page vary wildly, depending on the image. Laser printers print at engine speed, so once the image is processed, pages will spit out at a predictable rate. HP claims 15 pages per minute is possible, and indeed, the 2250tn is more than capable of this. As long, of course, as the image is small. In its fastest, lowest-quality mode, the 2250tn can quickly print clear and useable pages. Ten newsletter-style colour pages took just under five minutes to print – nowhere near the claimed speed, but reasonable enough.