Many high-performance, laser-based MFPs cost $US10,000 or more and provide features and capabilities so sophisticated - or bewildering - that you have to buy them packaged with setup, training and maintenance contracts. HP bucks that market model with the LaserJet 4345mfp.
Starting at $US2600, it delivers rocking speed and quality whether printing or copying. The basic installation doesn't require much more than plugging in a Cat 5 cable.
Bundled software and an embedded Web server provide the standard suite of HP network-printer management tools.
The base configuration combines a foldout, 100-sheet auxiliary tray and an internal 500-sheet tray with 256MB of memory and a 20GB hard drive. The automatic document-feeder flips pages over to copy, fax or scan both sides, though printing on both sides requires a duplexer.
The touch-screen control panel design is so clear users probably won't require any training to make copies. Scanning to a PC with HP's optional Digital Sending Software is equally simple. Still, HP's design isn't perfect. For example, the 4345mfp knows automatically what size paper is in a tray, but there's no place for an external label, so users are left in the dark.
And the machine lacks some high-end but useful copier features: You can't erase the black stripe that forms at the centre gutter of copies from books; nor can you add page numbers to copy jobs. The printer's management capabilities earn mostly high marks. Thanks to the machine's internal Web server and HP's Web Jetadmin software, you can keep a close eye on status from the comfort of your PC. However, it doesn't provide IT managers with sufficient granularity to control which settings users may modify on the control panel: You can't prevent a curious employee from changing the device's IP address or putting it in test mode and leaving it that way.
The LaserJet 4345mfp delivers performance that will keep an office productive. In my tests it made copies at 43.1ppm and printed text at 27ppm. It printed text documents with sharp, clearly defined letters that remain evenly weighted down to very small sizes. The copies are also surprisingly free of spatter or cloudiness, though some choppiness shows up on the edges of letters.
Printed graphics get good marks for smooth transitions and shading and for sharp focus. Like all monochrome devices, the 4345mfp produces graphics that show some graininess in places. It also struggles to copy greyscale graphics, which have interference patterns, a greyish, flat look, and noticeable loss of detail.
The product is distributed in Australia by Ingram Micro.