IT Pro Verdict
Simple set up
No built-in scanner
Laser printers are a staple of offices around the land, and this HP LaserJet is a prime example of its type: this affordable laser will churn out reasonably priced, sharply printed documents with speed and accuracy. It doesn't have a scanner built in, but if you're looking for a straightforward device to churn out page after page, month after month, the Color LaserJet Pro M255dw is well up to the task.
Physically, there isn't much to look at; it's a white box with a generous 250-sheet plain paper tray at the bottom. Prints appear at the top, descending into an output tray that can hold 100 sheets at a time.
There's a single power button on the front with everything else on the printer controlled via a smooth-scrolling colour touchscreen. HP has got this just right. It sits on top of the printer on a hinge, so can be pushed back to lay flat (but not flush) on the top of the printer, or pulled back up to whatever angle is best for you to see it. With large colourful icons, this is the closest thing you'll get to having a smartphone app sitting on the top of your printer.
As the M255dw isn't a multifunction printer, the screen isn't required for making copies and suchlike, but it's useful for checking the status of your supplies. You can also use it in conjunction with the USB port on the top. If a file sits on a USB stick then you can bypass the PC entirely and print directly from the screen.
HP leads the way when it comes to simplicity of setup, with even the toner cartridges coming preinstalled; all you need to do is load some paper and switch it on. Thanks once again to that touchscreen, you can enter your Wi-Fi password directly without connecting it to a computer. So you could be printing from this within seconds of getting it out of the box. That said, if you do connect it to your computer via USB to start with then the HP Smart app will transfer your PC's Wi-Fi credentials over to the printer, so you don't even need to set that up. It's an extraordinarily simple process. As well as Wi-Fi, you can connect the printer to your network using its wired Ethernet connection.
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Although it's a colour model, this LaserJet Pro is best suited to those with occasional colour requirements. In our tests, the black prints are excellent -- sharp, crisp text that can take close examination. The mixed text and colour prints were good too, although the colour prints were a little oversaturated and there's the odd flaw in the colour separation. If you want to print more photos than text at this kind of price, you're better off opting for an inkjet.
The physical print resolution of this printer is lower than most of the other printers we reviewed, maxing out at only 600 x 600dpi, but don't be fooled. You'll need a magnifying glass to spot the difference, and only those printing ultra-fine, detailed work would ever notice.
When printing in mono, this is the most cost-effective lasers we've aver tested. The M255dw's high-yield black toner cartridge is rated at over 3,000 pages, working out to 2.6p per page. Colour prints are substantially more expensive, however, at 13.5p per page.
It proved slow off the mark, with a prolonged warm-up time meaning we were kept waiting 36 seconds for the first page to appear. Once it's going, though, it soon picks up speed. It wasn't as fast as the Lexmark or Brother lasers when producing 25-page mono or colour documents, but in our 50-page mono test it worked out at 17ppm compared to 15ppm for the Brother HL-3210CW.
It's worth noting that this printer can automatically duplex, which the Brother can't, and it's a key feature that helped it pull ahead in our estimations. Only the Lexmark printer was faster at printing this kind of job (with a speed of 9ppm versus 6.1ppm). If you need to print a lot of colour documents and are fixed on a laser printer because of the speed they offer, the Brother HL-L3210CW is cheaper and more cost-efficient to run. The Brother can't automatically print on both sides of a sheet of paper, however, which some users might find is a missing feature too far.
HP Color LaserJet Pro M255dw specifications
|600 x 600dpi A4 colour laserjet
|2.7in colour touchscreen
|250-sheet input tray
|Recommended monthly duty cycle
|392 x 475 x 297mm