Recent price drops in the colour laser market have been so severe that the £305 LaserJet 2700 seems almost expensive compared with the likes of the Konica Minolta Magicolor. But the HP has a few tricks up its sleeve to woo potential buyers.

Physically, it's hard to fault the 2700 - it both looks and feels like a proper piece of office equipment. The paper trays are robust, and the feeding mechanism rarely misbehaved in testing. In fact, the paper input is part of the reason why you might want to spend an extra £100 on this product.

While the Konica Minolta can take only 200 sheets - and with no expansion facilities - the 2700 can handle 350 as standard, and an extra 500-sheet tray is available for £265. And it's not only the paper facilities that are above average. The installed RAM is twice what you'd expect from a £200 model, and you can upgrade this still further.

If all you want is a colour laser that can do light print jobs, a good £200 model will suffice. However, should your needs demand something with a little more grunt, the HP is up to heavier printing duties. And it can be connected to the network, making it an ideal purchase for small businesses.

The HP scores something of a first, in that the quoted mono print speed of 20ppm (pages per minute) was actually matched in real-world testing. Characters were clearly defined and fairly sharp - if just a touch faint. It's a fast printer on colour too, and even though the real-world speed is only half that of the quoted figure, this is still impressive: of the printers in our Top Five colour laser chart, only the £390 Dell bettered it, and by just 0.1ppm.

Colour prints were fairly exciting to look at, although some shades were rather exaggerated. The Dell 3110cn was more accurate in its reproduction, and the Magicolor 2500W was at least as effective. However, compared with most of the printers at £300 and below, the HP is good.

HP Colour LaserJet 2700: Specs

  • Maximum resolution 2,400dpi
  • 64MB installed RAM
  • max 320MB
  • quoted print speed B=20ppm C=15ppm
  • actual print speed B=20ppm C=7.9ppm
  • USB 2.0
  • standard paper input 350 sheets
  • toner costs B=£100 C=£97 x 3
  • print life (pages) B=6,500 C=3,500 x 3
  • 1-year warranty
  • 413x510x430mm
  • 27.1kg
  • Maximum resolution 2,400dpi
  • 64MB installed RAM
  • max 320MB
  • quoted print speed B=20ppm C=15ppm
  • actual print speed B=20ppm C=7.9ppm
  • USB 2.0
  • standard paper input 350 sheets
  • toner costs B=£100 C=£97 x 3
  • print life (pages) B=6,500 C=3,500 x 3
  • 1-year warranty
  • 413x510x430mm
  • 27.1kg

OUR VERDICT

A robust printer with network support and excellent opportunities for expansion, the HP is also extremely fast. Colour reproduction could be more accurate, but for offices with £300 rather than £400 to spend, the 2700 merits attention.

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