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HP LaserJet Pro P1606 review: HP LaserJet Pro P1606

HP LaserJet Pro P1606

Matt Elliott
Matt Elliott Contributor
Matt Elliott, a technology writer for more than a decade, is a PC tester and Mac user based in New Hampshire.
5 min read

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.

HP LaserJet Pro P1606DN

HP LaserJet Pro P1606

The Good

The compact <b>HP LaserJet Pro P1606dn</b> 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.

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.

The HP LaserJet Pro P1606dn proved itself to be a consistent and speedy performer. Across CNET Labs' three monochrome speed tests--text, graphics, and presentation--it posted consistent scores in the 20-pages-per-minute range. It scored 20.5 ppm on our text speed test, an impressive score for a laser printer and even more so given the P1606dn's low price. It was a bit faster in our graphics test, at 22.5 ppm. And in our presentation speed test, it fell just shy of the 20-ppm mark at 19.29 ppm. We were impressed that our labs scores approached the vendor's claim of 26 ppm, as vendors' claims are notoriously exaggerated. Looking at the performance results, however, you can see why the Oki B431dn won an Editors' Choice, clearly outpacing the competition with print speeds of 33 ppm and higher in testing. For a printer that costs roughly $75 less, the HP LaserJet Pro P1606dn fared well in the labs against the top-ranked Oki.

HP LaserJet P1606dn (in ppm)
(Longer bars indicate better performance)
Black graphics  
Black text  
Oki B431dn
Samsung ML-2851ND
HP LaserJet P1606dn
Dell 1720
Lexmark E460dw

On our print quality tests, the HP LaserJet Pro P1606dn excelled where it matters most for a monochrome laser, pumping out crisp, black text. Text was a deep black with clean edges and was legible down to 2-pt font. With graphics, grayscale gradients weren't as smooth as we would have liked, but the quality will more than suffice for busy offices. If highly detailed graphics are vital to your business, you aren't likely to be shopping for a monochrome laser anyway.

Service and support
HP backs the LaserJet Pro P1606dn with a standard one-year warranty, which includes 24-7 toll-free phone support and live Web chat during weekdays. HP's Web site also contains downloadable drivers, software, and manuals; e-mail tech support; FAQs; and a troubleshooting guide.

Although it couldn't best the top-scoring Oki B431dn, the HP LaserJet Pro P1606dn earns high marks for its abundance of extra features. Smart Install takes the pain out of a typically tedious process, and storing drivers on the printer not only speeds things along, it lets you easily install the unit on multiple computers. Coupled with an affordable price and high marks on all our performance tests, the P1606dn would be a valuable asset for any small business or home office.

Find out more about how we test printers.

HP LaserJet Pro P1606DN

HP LaserJet Pro P1606

Score Breakdown

Design 8Features 8Performance 8Support 7
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