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The control panel's turquoise and salmon buttons are easy to understand. A brightly lit LCD helps you adjust paper handling, print an event log, and clear paper jams. We were struck by the high-pitched, claptrap sounds made as we opened and closed the trays and the drawers; but despite these sound effects, the components don't look or feel flimsy. Still, the HP 2420d's overall appearance is staid and straight out of cubicle-land. Few workgroup laser printers offer innovative design, but compared with this HP, we appreciate the Lexmark T430dn's lower-slung profile and shiny chrome control panel.
HP's print drivers cover rudiments such as number of copies, paper size, the addition of watermarks, and resolution adjustments. But the Lexmark T430dn lets you make a bevy of image-quality adjustments, plus it enables bonus confidentiality and account tracking features that appeal to businesses.
The HP 2420d comes with 48MB of RAM and has a maximum 304MB, which is good. If you buy the networkable version of this model, the 2420dn, you get 64MB of RAM with a maximum of 320MB, the same as the Lexmark T430dn. However, an extra 256MB DIMM for the HP runs $599, less than half of what Lexmark asks for the same amount of RAM.
HP's Toolbox software lets you track printer status over a network and request e-mail alerts when errors occur or supplies run low. Some of CNET's users have complained that the Toolbox software is bloated; we didn't encounter problems on our test bed in CNET Labs. However, we decided to explore the matter further by installing the HP 2420d on another Windows XP computer, which ate up an agonizing half hour. Yet our next installation attempt on the same PC worked seamlessly and took less than five minutes.
According to HP, a replacement toner cartridge lasting 12,000 prints runs $206, or about 1.7 cents per page, an average value. The Lexmark T430dn has the same cost per page if you use that vendor's cartridge-return discount, or 2 cents per page at full price.Speed
Graphics prints were disappointing in CNET Labs' tests. Gradients failed to make a linear progression from dark to light, while shaded and solid backgrounds were rough and showed significant crosshatching. Photos looked grainy and lacked details and contrast, causing our samples to resemble photocopy quality--similar to the output of the Brother HL-6050d, which costs $100 less. The Lexmark T430dn, on the other hand, produced excellent text and good graphics.
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Click here to learn more about how CNET Labs tests printers.The HP LaserJet 2420d comes with a standard one-year warranty, with reasonably priced upgrades: three years with next-day exchange costs $149 and three years with next-day onsite service is $269.
HP offers toll-free phone support and online chat. The company's Web site contains a wealth of additional support options. You can e-mail tech support; visit forums, launch an automatic driver checker that will determine which version of the print driver you're running (and suggest an update if necessary), search FAQs, download documentation, and get details about HP's hardware recycling and disposal programs.