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Thursday, October 25, 2007

The HP LaserJet M2727nf


The HP LaserJet M2727 series of mono laser multifunctions is geared for small offices, with features such as an Ethernet connector, built-in duplexer, fax capability, and an automatic document feeder. You have your choice between two models: the M2727nf is the base model, and the M2727nfs adds on an extra paper tray and built-in stapler; we tested the M2727nf. Although the M2727nf is fast and produces great prints (its scans need improvement, however), it's expensive at $600. (The M2727nfs costs $700.) On our tests, less expensive mono laser multifunctions like the Lexmark X342n ($400) were nearly as fast. Comparably priced color laser multifunctions like the Lexmark X502n ($700) were faster than the M2727nf and had similar print quality. We found nothing inherently wrong with the HP LaserJet M2727nf, but you can get more for your money elsewhere--or the same features and performance for less.

The design of the LaserJet M2727 series multifunction is all business. The putty-and-gray body of the M2727nf stands 19.7 inches wide, 16 inches deep, and 18 inches tall, and weighs almost 38 pounds (the M2727nfs is taller and heavier due to an extra paper tray). The flatbed scanner lid is topped by a 50-page automatic document feeder.

The control panel is divided by task. In the center are a backlit, two-line text LCD; menu navigation buttons; and an alphanumeric keypad. The fax area includes one-touch dial buttons, redial, phone book, volume, and resolution buttons. The copy area includes buttons for reducing/enlarging, making copies lighter or darker, changing paper size, and changing the number of copies, as well as buttons for turning on two-sided copies, collating, and a tray-select button. The scan area contains just a Scan To button. All three task areas have their own dedicated start buttons as well.

The paper handling is simple on the M2727 series. The M2727nf model offers a single 250-page paper cassette and a 50-page multipurpose input tray that folds out from the printer's front panel. Outputted pages exit in the well between the printer body and the scanner head unit. The M2727nfs offers a second paper cassette for increased input capacity, as well as a built-in stapler.

The LaserJet M2727 multifunction comes with the standard 3,000-page toner cartridge, which you can replace with the same or with the high-capacity version, which is good for about 7,000 pages. The former costs $81 to replace, while the latter costs $148. Using the larger version for best value, this works out to a per-page print cost of approximately 2.1 cents, a reasonable cost. The monthly duty cycle is 15,000 prints, which makes this suitable for small to medium offices.

The price and feature set of the LaserJet M2727 series makes it better suited for small offices, but busy home offices can benefit as well. The M2727 multifunctions come network-ready with an Ethernet port, but you can also connect to a single PC via a USB port. It's compatible with both Mac and Windows operating systems. It comes with 64MB of non-upgradeable memory.

The copy features are standard for an office machine. You can make up to 99 copies at once, and reduce or enlarge through preset values (fit to size) or custom values between 25 percent and 400 percent. You can also instruct the copier to do 2-to-1 and 4-to-1 copies, as well as autoduplex copies, from either double-sided or single-sided originals.

Scan To options include scan to file and scan to e-mail (the options even discern between scanning images and documents). Once the scan is complete, the Save To box is launched on your PC, allowing you to choose where to save the file. Format options include JPEG, TIFF, bitmap, GIF, and PDF. The Scan To button comes preprogrammed to offer scan to file and scan to e-mail options, but you can reprogram the button to include scan to program options. If you want to scan using optical character recognition, you'll need to install the Readiris Pro program, which comes on a separate CD from the printer's drivers.

For faxing, you can save up to 120 entries in the MF2727's phone book, including both individuals and groups. The first 16 entries also correspond to the eight one-touch dial buttons on the control panel (the Shift key lets you associate two numbers to a single button). Pressing the Phone Book button calls up the listings on the control panel's text LCD, so you can browse through them to choose a person or group. If you subscribe to caller ID, you can turn on junk-fax blocking. The MF2727 also allows you to send a delayed fax, forward faxes, and receive faxes in secure mode. The latter option stores incoming faxes in memory and prints them out only when you enter a password.

We haven't reviewed any mono multifunctions in this price range, so we compared it to comparably priced color laser multifunctions and slightly less expensive mono machines. The comparisons don't do the HP LaserJet M2727nf many favors, as several of the less expensive monos and the similarly priced color multifunctions keep up or even outpace the HP model. The M2727nf scored 19.01 pages per minute (ppm) for black text, behind the 19.71ppm scored by the Lexmark X502n (color). When printing grayscale graphics, the HP scored 18.68ppm, just behind the mono Lexmark X342n and more than 1ppm slower than the Lexmark X502n. With both color and grayscale scans, the HP M2727 was slow--the slowest by far at grayscale with a score of 2.46ppm and second slowest at color scans with a score of 2.50ppm. It did keep up with the pack on copying via ADF, though, scoring 14.96ppm. The bottom line is this: you can save about $200 on a mono laser multifunction and get just slightly slower print speeds, or you can spend the same $600 to $700 on a color multifunction with the same speeds (or slightly slower) and get the added bonus of color printing.

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