As you might expect, the HP Color LaserJet Pro MFP M177fw ($349.99) is similar in most ways to the HP LaserJet Pro 100 Color MFP M175nw that it has replaced (although the HP M175nw is still available on the Web at this writing). It offers the same low initial cost with enough extra conveniences to hold its own in a category that, like most, is constantly raising the bar. Most notably, it adds fax support and Wireless Direct (HP’s variation on Wi-Fi Direct), which let’s you connect easily from a smartphone or tablet to print. As with the HP M175nw, the combination of features, along with the small size, make it a good candidate as a personal multifunction printer (MFP) in any size office.
The M177fw is best reserved for light-duty printing, largely because of its limited paper handling. It offers only a single 150-sheet input tray and no duplexer, with no paper handling upgrades available. That should be adequate for most people who want a personal printer or a shared printer for light-duty use in a micro office. If you’re planning to use it as a shared printer with even two people, however, keep in mind that it doesn’t take a lot of printing per person per day before adding paper will turn into a mildly annoying chore.
Basics, Setup, and Speed
In addition to letting you print and fax from—as well as scan to—a PC, including over a network, the M177fw can work as a standalone copier and fax machine. For multipage documents, as well as legal-size paper, the scanner offers a 35-page automatic document feeder (ADF) to complement the letter-size flatbed.
As I’ve already mentioned, the printer supports Wireless Direct for mobile printing. In addition, if you connect it directly to your network, using either a wired connection or Wi-Fi, and assuming your network is connected to the Internet, you can also use it with HP’s Web apps and for mobile printing. The printer supports mobile printing both through the cloud and through your Wi-Fi access point, if you have one.
For my tests, I connected the printer to a wired network and installed the drivers on a system running Windows Vista. Setup was standard. And note that the size is small enough, at 13.0 by 16.7 by 16.7 inch (HWD), to let you comfortably fit the printer on your desk or at least in easy reach.
HP rates the engine speed at 17 pages per minute (ppm) for monochrome and 4 ppm for color. Although these are the speeds you should see for printing text files with little or no formatting, the speed on our tests (timed with QualityLogic’s hardware and software) was much slower, at 2.9 ppm.
This makes the M177fw a bit slower than the HP M175nw’s 3.3 ppm. It’s also significantly slower than the Ricoh Aficio SP C240SF, at 6.3 ppm. However, the Ricoh C240SF is unusually fast for the price, even outpacing the more expensive Editors’ Choice Dell 2155cn, which came in at 5.9 ppm. The M177fw’s speed is best described as tolerable, particularly if you’re moving up to a laser from an inkjet.
Output Quality and Other Issues
The printer’s quality overall is a touch below standard because of slightly below-par text. Fortunately, text quality for lasers is high enough that even being slightly below average is still pretty good. I wouldn’t use the M177fw for serious desktop publishing, but it’s fine for most business needs.
Graphics are suitable for any business use, up to and including PowerPoint handouts. Colors in our tests came out just a little dark in terms of a hue-saturation-brightness color model, but depending on how critical an eye you have, you may consider the output acceptable for printing your own marketing materials like one-page mailers and handouts. Colors in photos also tended to be a little dark. Depending on your tastes, you may or may not consider them acceptable for the same sort of marketing materials.
One potential issue for the M177fw is its high claimed running cost, at 4.2 cents for a monochrome page and 21.6 cents for a color page. Unless you expect to print relatively little, this cost per page can easily make the printer more expensive in the long run compared with some other printer with a high initial cost but lower running cost.
Even more than with most printers, this argues for investing the time to compare total cost of ownership between the M177fw and any other printer you may be considering. Take a best guess at how many monochrome and color pages you’ll likely print over the life of the printer. Then, for each printer, multiply both totals by the appropriate cost per page, add that to the initial cost of the printer, and compare the results. Print enough pages, and a printer with a higher initial price, like the Editors’ Choice Dell 2155cn, can wind up being less expensive in the long run. And with the Dell 2155cn, you’ll also get the benefit of faster speed.
If you won’t be printing enough for the running costs to matter, the HP Color LaserJet Pro MFP M177fw delivers a lot of printer for a low price. In addition to printing, it can scan, copy, and fax; it offers the convenience of an ADF as well as a flatbed; the Ethernet and Wi-Fi make it easy to hang on a network; and Wireless Direct makes it easy to print from your phone or tablet. If you need a personal or micro-office color laser MFP for light-duty printing, it’s certainly worth considering.
|Standalone Copier and Fax||Copier, Fax|
|Direct Printing from Cameras||No|
|Rated Speed at Default Settings (Mono)||17 ppm|
|Rated Speed at Default Settings (Color)||4 ppm|
|Color or Monochrome||4-pass color|
|Print Duplexing||Manual with guidance|
|Maximum Standard Paper Size||Legal|
|Technology (for laser category only)||Laser|
|Connection Type||USB, Ethernet, Wireless|
Copyright © 2012 Ziff Davis, Inc