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HP Color LaserJet 2800 multifunction review: HP Color LaserJet 2800 multifunction

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MSRP: $879.00

The Good Very good prints; easy to use; digital memory card slots; network ready; automatic document feeder; Mac and PC support.

The Bad Merely fair color scans; noisy when printing; slow color print speeds; limited paper handling.

The Bottom Line This truly business-friendly color laser multifunction can seamlessly replace the army of devices in your office.

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8.0 Overall
  • Design 8
  • Features 8
  • Performance 8
  • Support 8

Review summary

Editor's note, November 2007: At the time this product was first reviewed, it was awarded our Editors' Choice award. We have removed that designation due to changes in the marketplace since the review's initial publication.

To date, the only competition for the HP Color LaserJet 2840 in the sub-$1,000 color laser multifunction category is the Canon ImageClass MF8170c. Both machines provide similarly good output quality, but the HP 2840 surpasses the Canon in several areas. This HP follows the nonmultifunction color laser Konica Minolta Magicolor 2430DL by furnishing memory card slots for direct photo printing. The HP 2840 lets you send scans directly to a network folder and includes software with extensive network management tools, as well as a document-management and image-editing app. The HP Color LaserJet 2840 also supports Mac and Windows computers. We'd like it to hold more paper, especially to serve a busy workgroup, but bonus features and ease of use make the HP 2840 stand out. As you might expect from a color laser multifunction printer, the HP Color LaserJet 2840 is no shrinking violet. Yet in spite of its majestic proportions--about 75 pounds and 19.6 by 37 by 29 inches (WDH)--the 2840 wears its functions well and includes carrying handles. The HP Color LaserJet 2840's well-designed control panel clusters buttons according to function--menu navigation, copying, and scanning--alongside an LCD. The interface includes an alphanumeric keypad, one-touch access to the fax phone book, and five speed-dial keys. But the HP 2840's most distinguishing feature is its bank of media-card slots that lets you print photos or proof sheets without using your computer.

The top panel of this device opens to reveal a flat scanner bed that fits paper up to 8.5 by 11 inches. The scan lid itself houses a 50-sheet automatic document feeder (ADF) that accepts pages up to 8.5 by 15 inches. Under the scanner, the output tray holds 125 pages, and plastic arms catch collated copy jobs. The pair of paper input trays total 375 sheets of capacity--not so generous for a busy workgroup but average for a laser multifunction.

This large desktop machine best fits an office suite, because in a crowded home office, it may wake your baby. Blame the 2840's four-pass, carousel toner design--which cycles each page four times through the machine to print in color--for rattling the engine as if it's holding a panicked ferret captive. The HP Color LaserJet 2840's exhaustive array of features should satisfy most busy offices. An affordable color laser multifunction is rare, as is a laser printer that prints pictures straight from digital memory cards (CompactFlash Type I and II, Secure Digital, xD-Picture card, Memory Stick, Memory Stick Pro, SmartMedia, MultiMediaCard); the 2840 serves up both possibilities. And the 2840 covers the basics well: you can use it to print, copy, and scan documents in grayscale or color. Like other laser multifunctions, the 2840 lacks two-sided printing and skimps on paper capacity, but its roomy ADF lets you copy up to 50 pages at a time without having to lift the scanner lid. The built-in fax machine features a 120-number speed-dial phone book, along with broadcast faxing, fax forwarding, and number blocking.

The HP Toolbox software, a bundled Web-based management app, provides a vast number of configuration options, such as a fax setup wizard and the ability to tweak print, copy, and scan settings, as well as status information and alerts for errors, toner levels, and paper usage. You can program the Scan keys via HP Toolbox to scan to e-mail or a specific folder on your PC or network.

In addition to Toolbox, the HP 2840 comes with Readiris Pro 9.0 optical character recognition (OCR) software, to translate scans into editable text; HP Director, an umbrella interface that manages the functions of any HP peripherals; and HP Document Viewer, which organizes scanned documents. You also get HP Image Zone, an image transfer, management, printing, and editing program, with sophisticated editing functions such as the ability to add color filters and shadows, adjust white balance, and smooth out textures. It also has the old standbys, such as red-eye removal, cropping, and resizing.
The HP Color LaserJet 2840's grayscale text print speed of 12.06 pages per minute (ppm) is average compared to that of other color laser multifunctions, and it beat the Canon ImageClass MF8170c, which printed black text at a mere 7.74ppm. Both of these machines achieved comparable graphics printing and scanning speeds. If you prize speed in a laser printer and you can meet your scanning, faxing, and copying needs elsewhere, the Dell 5100cn might better suit your office.

CNET Labs' color multifunction speed  (Longer bars indicate better performance)
Grayscale scan  
Color scan  
Color graphics  
Color text  
Grayscale graphics  
Grayscale text  
HP Color LaserJet 2840
Canon ImageClass 8170c

The HP Color LaserJet 2840 performed well overall. Black text, legible down to 2-point size, was as sharp and bold-looking as we've seen. Black-and-white graphics were marred slightly by visible horizontal banding, but photo elements looked remarkably smooth and captured fine details well. Color text was excellent; while we could see tiny dots in the subtler shades, blending was smooth overall. Color graphics looked similarly smooth, especially in large blocks of color, and were good overall despite some crosshatching.

Color laser printers aren't destined to create archival photos, but our informal test prints of photos from a memory card were good. The photos looked dark and could have been smoother, but their quality should suffice if you're printing, say, snapshots from the field. The only other color laser printer to date that includes memory card slots is the Konica Minolta Magicolor 2430DL.

The quality of the 2840's grayscale scans in CNET Labs' tests at the default settings (which you can adjust to improve results) was decent and smooth, despite low contrast. Our only complaint with the 2840's output was that its color scans were paler and less detailed than those of the Canon ImageClass MF8170c.

CNET Labs' color multifunction quality  (Longer bars indicate better performance)
Grayscale scans  
Color scans  
Color graphics  
Color text  
Grayscale graphics  
Grayscale text  
Canon ImageClass 8170c
HP Color LaserJet 2840

Click here to learn more about how CNET Labs tests printers.

Speed analysis written by Jeffrey Fuchs. HP offers some of the most comprehensive support options you'll find in the industry; they're especially good for business customers. The HP Color LaserJet 2840 comes with a standard one-year warranty that includes 24/7 toll-free phone support. Through HP's Care Pack Services, you can choose from a number of expanded warranty and service and support options. HP's Web site also offers e-mail support, live chat with a tech-support representative, FAQs, documentation, searchable knowledge bases, and white papers--all organized to correspond to your product. The HP Toolbox also houses a user guide, troubleshooting tips, and a multitude of tutorials that cover printing photos, creating a fax cover page, and scanning from the control panel.

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