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HP Color LaserJet 1500L review: HP Color LaserJet 1500L

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MSRP: $749.00
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The Good Inexpensive color; compatible with Windows and the Mac OS; good print quality and print speeds; easy to set up and use.

The Bad Low paper capacity; few expansion options; USB-only, but no USB cable included.

The Bottom Line The HP Color LaserJet 1500L's low price puts good color-laser printing within the grasp of budget-strapped small offices. But if you need high volume or room to grow, get a more expandable model.

Visit manufacturer site for details.

7.2 Overall
  • Design 8
  • Features 6
  • Performance 7
  • Support 9

Review Sections

Review summary

The HP Color LaserJet 1500L is the entry-level model in Hewlett-Packard's line of home and small-office color laser printers. It has the same basic specs and solid performance quality as the LaserJet 2500 series, minus a large paper capacity and a few expansion options. Priced at $799.99, it is a direct competitor to the Minolta-QMS Magicolor 2300 line. If you're a small-office or home user who needs to do inexpensive and low-volume color printing, the 1500L is a great choice. However, if you have any plans to expand your office (or your family), you might as well pay $100 more for the LaserJet 2500.

The HP Color LaserJet 1500L has the compact, pot-bellied shape common among HP color lasers. Its soft, blue-gray-on-gray contours are more homey than the drab, putty-colored plastics of office printers. Overall, it has a sensible, sturdy look and feel.

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A carousel holds the color toner cartridges.

Unlike some color lasers, which have all four toner cartridges (cyan, magenta, yellow, and black) arrayed along the inside bottom of the printer, the LaserJet 1500L's engine uses a carousel that rotates to lay down each color separately. On the control panel, four lights--one for each toner color--indicate when toner levels run low. To change a cartridge, open the front panel, press a button on the side control panel to rotate the carousel, then lift out the expired cartridge.

Setup is simple. The printer has a USB interface, but unfortunately, the cable is sold separately. In our tests, both Windows XP and Windows 2000 easily recognized the new hardware and prompted us to install the drivers from the included CD. The 1500L also is compatible with Windows 98 and Me and Mac OS 9 and X. Installation takes a few minutes and asks you some basic questions, such as whether you want to share the printer on a network. The LaserJet 1500L is also Mac compatible.

As the entry-level model in HP's home/small-office color laser line, the Color LaserJet 1500L is a bit short on features. The provided input tray, located along the base, holds only 125 sheets--fewer than many home inkjets hold. Unlike with the Color LaserJet 2500 series, to which you can add either a 250-sheet or a 500-sheet input tray, the Color LaserJet 1500L offers only a 500-sheet-tray addition--for a whopping $399. You can't upgrade the printer's standard 16MB of RAM, and neither the PCL nor the PostScript printer languages are supported--just computer-based printing. The Color LaserJet 1500L can be networked via an external HP JetDirect Ethernet ($249) or 802.11b ($239) print server.

The Color LaserJet 1500L doesn't come with any productivity software per se, but if you choose the full installation from the included CD, you get HP's useful printing toolbox, which shows up as a separate icon on your desktop. Clicking it launches a Web browser interface that provides a detailed printer status display. You also get copious documentation. The toolbox links directly to HP's online tech support and can be configured to request supplies when, for example, it senses low toner levels. It may seem as if only IT managers can enjoy these features, but HP's clear, simple interfaces make it easy enough for most everyone.

In CNET Labs' tests, the HP Color LaserJet 1500L averaged 11.17 pages per minute (ppm) on black text, making it the fastest of the color lasers we've tested--nearly the same speed as some sub-$500 personal monochrome lasers and fairly close to the 16ppm top speed that HP advertises.

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