Once upon a time, inkjet and mono-laser printers were like chalk and cheese. Inkjets were well-priced flimsy devices ideally suited to homes, while mono lasers were chunky, heavyweight office-based products – with high prices to match.

Today, however, some inkjets come with impressive specifications, while the laser market is putting out loads of devices like the HP LaserJet 1018. We're not saying it's tiny, but it certainly dominates the room far less than the archetypal mono laser. It also comes with an appetising price tag.

The HP benefits from one of the fastest installation routines we've seen yet, and its interface options stretch to USB 2.0. No network interface is included, although you would hardly expect that in such a small and well-priced package. The 150-sheet tray isn't the largest on offer, although it's perfectly adequate for the HP's target audience, the home user.

The quoted mono speed is 12ppm (pages per minute), and the HP completed our real-world test suite at an average of 10.9ppm. This makes it fairly slow, although it all but matches the performance of the slightly pricier Dell 1100. Good colour inkjets could claim a higher figure on their fastest mode, but at a resolution where they could match the 1018's text output, you'd need to settle for a fraction of this laser's speed.

At 600x600dpi (dots per inch), the 1018 produces smooth text. It's not the cleanest or sharpest we've seen, but it's certainly very good. Even an average laser printer is still capable of very strong text output. And it's not too shabby on graphics either. Pictures are slightly grainy, but the level of detail is decent. We don't recommend this as a graphics printer, but when you don't have a choice, the 1018 can do a job.

Unsurprisingly, toner costs aren't exactly low, but they're slightly below those of similarly priced mono laser rivals.

HP LaserJet 1018: Specs

  • Hardware resolution 600x600dpi
  • installed RAM 2MB
  • max RAM 2MB
  • quoted print speed 12ppm
  • actual print speed 10.9ppm
  • USB 2.0
  • toner costs £54
  • print life (pages) 2,500
  • 150-sheet input tray
  • 1-year warranty
  • 370x242x209mm
  • 5kg
  • Hardware resolution 600x600dpi
  • installed RAM 2MB
  • max RAM 2MB
  • quoted print speed 12ppm
  • actual print speed 10.9ppm
  • USB 2.0
  • toner costs £54
  • print life (pages) 2,500
  • 150-sheet input tray
  • 1-year warranty
  • 370x242x209mm
  • 5kg

OUR VERDICT

Cheap to buy, not too expensive to run and in a pleasant (albeit business-like) casing that won't take up large amounts of your desk, the LaserJet 1018 is the epitome of the personal laser. It's a better overall deal than the Dell 1100 and, while we'd still recommend paying more for something really impressive, this is a solid budget buy.

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