The Good Excellent-quality text printing; PC and Mac compatible.
The Bad Expensive; no built-in duplexer; can't expand memory or add paper trays.
The Bottom Line This is a good HP grayscale laser printer, but the expandable HP LaserJet 1320 is a better buy.
HP LaserJet 1160
At first glance, the HP LaserJet 1160 looks like a stripped-down version of the dressed in a different color. Both printers have the same compact, blocky design, a 133MHz processor, 16MB of RAM, and a half-ream main paper tray; both deliver excellent-quality text. The HP LaserJet 1160, however, lacks the built-in duplexer, the networkability, and the expandable memory and paper capacity of its cousin, the HP 1320. We'd pay the $70 difference between the two models just to get the duplexer. If your heart is set on a grayscale laser printer, if you lack plans to expand your home or business empire, and you really, truly don't mind flipping over paper when you need to print on both sides, the HP LaserJet 1160 will suffice. The fits the same bill, however, for nearly one-third the price. The nondescript, easy-to-use HP LaserJet 1160 is a light-gray-and-white plastic cube that measures 14 inches wide by 14 inches deep by 10 inches tall. The 125-sheet-capacity paper-output bin, the pop-up media-support ledge, and the control panel rest on the white-plastic top of the printer. Luckily for your crowded desk, no paper trays protrude from this seamless machine, as on the more full-featured .
The control panel consists of two buttons--one is green, and the other is an orange Cancel button--and four lights. The green button lets you print a demo or configuration page or signal the 1160 to print the next page when you're hand-feeding sheets in manual mode. The top light flashes to indicate an absent toner cartridge; the middle LED lights up for paper jams and problems involving the paper tray or the print cartridge; the bottom light signals that the device is ready to print. The HP LaserJet 1160's lights turn on and flash by themselves or in various combinations to communicate messages about the printer's status. Should you run into a glitch and can't decode the flashing lights or find your electronic manual, don't panic: the Services tab in the print-driver menu contains a graphical illustration of the control panel that translates the pattern of lights into text. Though this arrangement may not be ideal for some, the HP's controls are still less confusing than the hieroglyphic buttons of the Okidata Oki B4250.
The toner cartridge for the HP LaserJet 1160 sits inside the printer's front panel and slides in easily when aligned with the tabs along the side. Just south of the front panel, an alternative media-input slot lets you single-feed envelopes, postcards, labels, or transparencies. You can also use this slot to feed in the second side of a document for manual duplexing. If you open the rear output door, a straight paper path allows printing on heavy stock. What you see on the HP LaserJet 1160 is what you get: 16MB of RAM and a main paper tray that holds 250 sheets of plain paper. You can add the 1160 to a network, but only if you attach it to an external print server such as the HP Jetdirect 170x Ethernet print server for $130 or the HP Jetdirect 380x 802.11b Wireless External Print Server for $240.
The 1160 connects to any computer running Windows 98 and above or Mac OS 9.1 and up, either via the printer's USB 2.0 or parallel port. You must supply a printer cable yourself. Setup is simple, and HP evidently thinks so too, because you get only a one-sheet quick-start setup guide without a printed user manual. Fortunately, the guide's pictographic instructions are nearly foolproof, and a complete user guide is available on the accompanying CD. If you run into problems before you reach the CD, you can consult HP's thorough Web site for help with drivers and manuals.
The 1160's print drivers are easy to use and contain a small but adequate set of options. Without an automatic duplexer, if you want to print on two sides of a sheet of paper, you're limited to manual-duplex mode. At least you can choose the orientation so that you can, for example, print pages side by side, like in a book. The 1160 prints at either 600dpi or 1,200dpi, and the EconoMode setting reduces the amount of toner used per page. HP warns that this option reduces print quality, but the sample we printed in EconoMode looked decent. The 1160's drivers lack an n-up setting to print reduced-size pages onto a single sheet, but they will automatically resize your digital print job to a variety of paper sizes, including standard envelope, legal, and even 100x148mm Japanese postcards.
The HP LaserJet 1160's toner cartridge is supposed to last 2,500 pages. Replacements cost $71.99, for a cost per page of just below 3 cents, near the high end for simple laser printing. Quality
The HP LaserJet 1160's text quality at 1,200dpi is excellent. The letters in CNET Labs' printer-test documents came out looking clean, dark, and sharp, with no missing pieces or toner overspray. Graphics, however, were only fair. Photos looked too pale, and the lighter ends of the gradient disappeared entirely. Dark areas of the test document had a scaly, partly shiny, partly dull pattern etched on them.
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