Oftentimes, manufacturers strategically keep the price of budget printers down by shipping a "starter" set of toner cartridges with the device. These cartridges typically contain a fraction of the toner levels compared with those sold on the vendor Web site, so the surprise comes after you've already purchased the machine. Unfortunately, such is the case with the CP1215; all four toner cartridges (cyan, magenta, yellow, and black) contain roughly half of the standard volume of toner. Luckily, the cost of the CB540 toner series compatible with the printer is about average: $72 for the color cartridges that should yield 1,400 pages, according to the Web site, and $78 for 2,200 pages of black toner. Using those figures, since no high-volume toner cartridges are available, our calculations come out to 5.1 cents for a page of color and 3.5 cents per page of black--slightly more expensive than the CP2025n, but still affordable nonetheless. Finally, the CP1215's monthly duty cycle maxes out at 1,000 pages. Compared with the CP2025n's 40,000 pages per month, this is definitely suited to a much smaller office with proportionally lighter printing responsibilities.
We were generally satisfied and slightly bored with the CP1215 until we tested its output speed, the results of which practically wrote the review itself. As you can see from the comparison chart below, this HP is drastically outgunned by the rest of the competition in almost all of our tests, with the exception of color graphics and color text--that unfortunate loss went to the Samsung CLP-315W. The HP CP1215 didn't do much better, though, registering only 5.36 pages of color text per minute (PPM), in contrast to the HP CP2025n on the opposite end at 10.43ppm. The extreme difference in output speed is unacceptable, and you'll likely find yourself increasingly frustrated with waiting for this thing to spit out color.
Output speed test in pages per minute (PPM)
(Longer bars indicate better performance)
|Color Graphics||Presentation||Color text speed||Black Text|
As usual, we have to congratulate HP on the quality of both color text and documents. While the output speed leaves a great deal to be desired, HP still manages to present well-formed black and color text with sharp edges and even shading across dense graphics. As is typical for a color laser, the CP1215 could use improvement in smoothing out blotchy gradations, and we did see banding in some of the fine details, but the majority of the photo elements came out nicely saturated with natural color. Overall, the HP LaserJet CP1215's print quality is definitely good enough for small offices that mainly print out text with an occasional presentation thrown in, but larger offices with heavier photographic workloads might prefer the quality that only an inkjet printer can provide.
Service and support
In addition to HP's comprehensive one-year warranty, which includes 24-7 toll-free phone support and live Web chat during weekdays, HP's Web site also contains downloadable drivers, software, and manuals, e-mail tech support, FAQs, and a troubleshooting guide.
Find out more about how we test printers.