HP LaserJet Pro P1606 review: HP LaserJet Pro P1606

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The Good The compact HP LaserJet Pro P1606dn is easy to set up, and offers rapid printing at an affordable price.

The Bad No cables are included, and some banding is evident in grayscale graphics.

The Bottom Line Fast, cheap, and compact, the HP LaserJet Pro P1606dn offers a winning combination of value and performance for home offices or small businesses in need of a monochrome laser printer.

7.9 Overall
  • Design 8
  • Features 8
  • Performance 8
  • Support 7

Fast and affordable, the $229 HP LaserJet Pro P1606dn is a monochrome laser printer that will appeal to home offices and small businesses. In addition to its fast print speeds, you'll come to appreciate its compact size and easy setup. The printer can be connected directly to a PC via USB, and it also features built-in Ethernet networking. Its print quality is excellent, and it offers autoduplexing, saving time and trees with double-sided printing. While the LaserJet Pro P1606dn was unable to match the speeds of our current laser printer champ, the Editors' Choice award-winning Oki B431dn, the HP LaserJet Pro P1606dn is an attractive option because of its low cost, small size, and fast output, and we recommend it for cramped offices on a budget.

Design and features
The HP LaserJet Pro P1606dn is about as compact a laser printer as you'll encounter. It measures 15 inches wide, 11 inches deep (not including the input tray, which protrudes 5.5 inches from the front), and 9.5 inches tall, making it easy to place on your desk alongside your PC. Weighing in at 15 pounds, it's also a printer you can easily lug from one office to another when the need arises. The Oki B431dn is a relatively svelte laser printer, and it weighs 26 pounds--portly by comparison.

The P1606dn's light weight isn't the only reason why it's so portable: it's also incredibly easy to set up. Simply plug it in, connect it to your PC, power it on, and let HP's Smart Install take care of the rest. Smart Install lets you avoid having to install drivers from a CD. Instead, the drivers and software are stored on the printer itself.

After connecting the printer to our test bed, we were prompted by Smart Install to load the necessary software. It installed the driver and also a small application that lets you mange print jobs, troubleshoot problems, find toner replacement cartridges, peruse the user guide, and so on. Though you don't need to reach for the bundled CD to get the printer installed, you will need to locate a USB or Ethernet cable (neither is included in the box).

The HP LaserJet Pro P1606dn is Energy Star-qualified, thanks in large part to its ability to power down into an energy-saving state when not in use. It wakes up from this state when it receives a print command. Although it's not a particularly noisy printer, it also features a quiet mode, reducing the racket the printer makes, an especially useful feature when the printer is positioned close by. In quiet mode, print speed is also reduced.

The LaserJet Pro P1606dn is a bare-bones laser printer, with bare-bones controls. You won't find an LED status display or much in the way of controls on the unit, not that you'll miss them. There is a Go button to print a configuration page or continue a print job and another to cancel a job. Three small LED indicators tell you if the printer is ready, if there's a problem, or if the toner is running low. Replacement toner cartridges for the LaserJet Pro P1606dn cost $78 for a rated 2,100 pages, which works out to a reasonable 3.7 cents per sheet. Do note that the introductory cartridge, as HP dubs it, is not completely filled.

The input tray can hold 250 sheets, which is average for a low-end laser printer. A priority slot above the main paper tray holds 10 sheets or envelopes or whatever your priority may be. The output tray can hold 125 sheets. HP rates the printer's monthly duty cycle as 8,000 pages, which is more than double that of the comparable Samsung ML-2851ND and should suffice for the vast majority of small businesses.