Multi-function laser machines are generally very utilitarian, like laser printers with scanners stuck on top. HP’s Color LaserJet CM1017MFP does rather better. Although the components are the same, more work has been done on the styling and it ends up looking a little like a Star Wars droid, which is an improvement. The only aspect to spoil this is the paper-out tray which projects from the front and looks untidy.
Paper feeds from a 250-sheet tray which slides out from its base – a second tray of the same capacity is available as an option – or from a slightly fiddly multi-function slot. You need to slide sheets along the desk to get this feeder to pick them up.
The flatbed scanner is a slim, modern design and beside it, on the right-hand side, is a small, well laid-out control panel. As well as buttons to start scan, photo print and copy jobs and interrupt any, there’s a colour LCD display, unusual on a laser all-in-one. It’s there primarily to work with the group of memory card slots set into its right front edge, and you can preview images from any card plugged in, as you would with an inkjet photo printer.
HP is quite brave in positively encouraging the printing of photo images on a colour laser. In the past this type of machine has been notorious for its small colour gamut (range of available colours) and photo images have suffered particularly from the lack of shades needed to produce natural pictures.
The company’s new Colorsphere toner, which is claimed to have much more spherical particles, produces a wider range of colours and the photographs we printed were a step above most of the competition we’ve looked at recently. Colours were smooth and varied and equally good on pastel and vivid shades.
Block colours in business graphics were also good, with little noticeable stippling, and colour copies from the flatbed scanner were excellent, with very little difference between original and copy. The device is rated at a speed of 8ppm for both black and colour pages, but we could only get around 5ppm under test.
Maintenance of the Color LaserJet CM1017MFP is straightforward. There are four integrated cartridge and drum units, easily accessed by folding down the front panel. The photo-sensitive belt to which they all butt up is said by HP to be a lifetime component.
Even so, when you work out the prices of the cartridges, you get page costs of 2.2p and 9.2p for 5 percent black text and 20 percent colour pages, respectively. These prices are a bit higher than those from several of HP’s competitors.
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