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Although most legal documents are black and white, it is also useful to be able to print in color. Ink jets are popular for color printing, but they also aren’t very good for printing professional documents. That leaves color laser printers, which aren’t as ostentatiously expensive as they used to be. If you are willing to pay a small premium for color, you can print your own letterhead, deposition exhibits, maps, and more.
A good printer must create high-quality documents and be cost-effective, dependable, and long-lasting. With the HP LaserJet Pro 300, I could only test the first two. But, based on HP’s reputation (and my own experiences with HP printers), I can make some educated guesses about the second two.
Price and features
The HP LaserJet Pro 300 is a laser printer, with color, and it works wirelessly. It can also fax, scan, and copy, but since multifunctions aren’t very good for scanning, and you are better off using an online fax service, only the copying will come in handy. It costs about $550. So much for price and features. What really matters on price, though, is not so much the up-front cost of the printer as the ongoing cost of toner.
The LaserJet Pro 300 is pretty reasonable to operate. It costs a little less than my current, just-black-and-white HP printer, and a little more than a popular black-and-white printer from Brother. Of course, the HP also does color and has multifunction features.
When printing in black-and-white, the cost-per-page runs about 3.6¢ per page with the standard toner cartridge (305A), or about 2.5¢ per page with the high-capacity toner cartridge (305X). In color, the price jumps to 4.4¢ per page.
Contrast those numbers with my (black-and-white only) HP 2055dn, which costs 4¢ per page for the standard toner cartridge (05A) and 2.5¢ per page for the high-capacity cartridge. The popular (and low-cost) Brother HL-5370DW costs just 2.5¢ per page with the standard (TN-620) and 1.5¢ per page with the high-capacity (TN-650) cartridges.
(I calculated the per-page costs using retail prices. All the toner cartridges listed above are cheaper on Amazon.)
In short, it’s a pretty good value — it might even save you some money, in the long run.
Hardware and design
The HP LaserJet Pro 300 is gigantic. If you just have an office to yourself, and you plan to put your printer next to your desk, think again. You will need to have a pretty large office to find room for this behemoth. While it may be smaller than a commercial copier, the LaserJet Pro 300 still belongs in a copy room.
Design-wise, the LaserJet Pro 300 is unremarkable. It is an okay-looking business machine, I guess, but I can’t recommend putting it on display, or anything.
The nice thing about printers is that you don’t really need much in the way of software — as long as all you want to do is print. If you want to take advantage of the LaserJet Pro 300′s scanning features, you will need to install HP’s multifunction software, not just the printer driver. Unfortunately, HP’s software is fairly big, bloated, and slows everything down. I never install it unless I have to.
I printed out some letterhead and a couple of pictures of my daughters, and I was impressed by the quality. It’s fine for letterhead, unless you are looking for the sort of raised lettering you can get from a professional printer. If, like me, most of your letterhead goes out in digital formats, anyway, this color laser is more than adequate for the few paper copies you need to distribute.
For pictures, it works okay for a picture of your kids to tack to the wall, but you won’t mistake your prints for photographs. It should work fine for deposition exhibits — as long as they fit on standard-size paper.
As I said in the beginning, I couldn’t test how dependable and long-lasting this printer will be. But since the HP LaserJet Pro 300 is made by HP, I don’t have many concerns on that front. My HP 2055dn is five years old and going strong. We have an old HP 3015 laser multifunction at home that is at least 10 years old. I know people still using 20-year old HP laser printers without trouble. Unless the LaserJet Pro 300 is an exception to HP’s generally excellent dependability and durability, you’ll have it as long as you want to.
Who should buy the HP LaserJet Pro 300
If you are looking for a good color laser printer, and you have plenty of room for a really big hunk of hardware, look no further. (If you don’t have plenty of room for a really big hunk of hardware, color laser printers are probably out for you, anyway.) It’s a bit more expensive up front, but if you want to print out your own letterhead or color deposition exhibits, it will be worth it.
HP LaserJet Pro 300
Reviewed by Sam Glover on .
Summary: If you are looking for a good color laser printer and you have plenty of room for it, look no further than the HP LaserJet Pro 300.
Score: 4 (out of 5)