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HP Color LaserJet 2605 review: HP Color LaserJet 2605

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The Good The HP Color LaserJet 2605dtn shows excellent color and monochrome print quality, has a built-in photo card reader and duplexer, and is reasonably priced.

The Bad The menu system is difficult to navigate, paper input is limited to 500 sheets, and software could be more small-office friendly.

The Bottom Line The HP 2605dtn has some flaws, but it prints color cheaply and well enough for small offices, individuals, and small corporate workgroups.

Visit manufacturer site for details.

7.1 Overall
  • Design 6
  • Features 8
  • Performance 7
  • Support 8

Review Sections

HP's Color LaserJet 2605dtn printer is the missing link between all-in-one inkjet photo printers and budget color laser printers and offers the best of both species. Like photo all-in-ones, it has built-in photo card readers and will print photos directly from a card. Like a color laser printer, it's fast and prints color more cheaply and at higher volume than a costly inkjet. Its color and monochrome output also look great, whether you compare it to a color laser, such as the HP 3600n, or an inkjet, such as the Epson R2400. At $699, this printer is hardly cheap, but for the price you get a built-in duplexer, two 250-sheet paper trays, and an Ethernet connection for networking. Our only major complaints with the HP 2605dtn are that the LCD menu navigation is tricky and you can't expand the paper capacity. (The other member of this series, the HP 2605dn, has only a single 250-sheet paper tray and lacks the photo memory card slots, for $200 less than the 2605dtn. The performance and quality should be the same as that of the 2605dtn.)

Measuring 16.1 by 17.8 by 20.2 inches (width, depth, height) and weighing 52.1 pounds, the HP 2605dtn is not particularly bulky for a workgroup laser, but it is meant to stay put on a desktop. The configuration is classic HP: a 125-sheet output tray on top, two 250-sheet input trays stacked on the bottom of the printer body. The front panel of the printer pops open to reveal the vertically stacked toner cartridges; the image-transfer belt is attached to the inside of the panel. The vertical arrangement (as opposed to a carousel, or a horizontal arrangement) makes it easy to insert and remove the toner and allows faster printing because there's no waiting for each color to rotate into position (this is also referred to as a single-pass setup). Given the cost of this equipment, we were a little surprised by how flimsy the panel door and paper trays feel. In fact, there are no stops on the paper trays, which makes it easy to pull them out for reloading but also means they'll slide right out of the printer body (and onto the floor) if you're not careful when pulling them out. It's also a shame that you can't add any more paper trays, but you can expand the included 64MB of memory to 320MB.

We were similarly unimpressed with the HP 2605dtn's LCD menu. There's no backlight, the LCD is positioned high on the printer so that it's hard to read if you're sitting down, and the menu navigation is confusing. There are four navigation buttons: left and right arrows for scrolling through submenu options, a check button for drilling down into the menu, and a salmon-colored button that cancels print jobs and exits the LCD menu. The problem is that the exit button quits the entire menu, rather than backing up through menu levels, so it's easy to get into the submenus but tricky to get back out. That said, through the LCD menu you can do the usual things, such as reporting on configuration or font lists and specifying which paper tray to use, and you can also access the direct-print functions for the photo card readers, which are located along the right side of the printer. Once you insert a photo card (the printer reads CompactFlash, SmartMedia, MultiMediaCard, Memory Stick, Memory Stick Pro, xD, and SD cards), you can either transfer photos to your computer or print from the card. The direct-print options include printing an index sheet, selecting individual photos or a range of photos, and specifying what size photo to print (from wallet to full-page size). If you want to crop, resize, or do basic photo editing, you can transfer the photos to your computer and use the included HP Photosmart Premier 6 software.

The printer comes with other software: HP Marketing Assistant, which helps you create marketing and sales material; HP Solution Center, which collects and manages all your HP devices under one interface; and HP ToolboxFX, a network management program. ToolboxFX does a good job of tracking the status and configuration of HP printers on a network and also provides a number of troubleshooting, how-to, and demo videos to help you use the printer. What's missing is an account tracking feature, for categorizing print jobs by project. We think that would be useful, given that this color laser will probably show up in small offices and workgroups that track all their work for billing purposes (for example, designers, attorneys, graphics pros).

The HP Color LaserJet 2605dtn printed black text at 9 pages per minute (ppm) and color graphics at 7ppm, which is not terribly fast for a laser printer but still considerably more efficient than your average inkjet printer. Its ink costs are also considerably lower. Going by HP's estimates, a page of black text should cost about 3 cents, and a page of color text should cost about 4 cents. We also appreciate that HP includes full toner cartridges with the printer, rather than mostly empty starter cartridges that others provide. The printer really shines when it comes to output quality. We printed color and monochrome documents at the default settings: HP ImageREt 2400 for color and 600 dots per inch for monochrome. Text was crisp and solidly black, without being overly bold; grayscale graphics were extremely detailed and smoothly blended. Color text was also surprisingly well blended--most color lasers make a spotted mess of this test document because they can't blend the trickier shades--and color graphics were similarly smooth, with very bright, bold color for a color laser printer. The printer also does an excellent job of blending skin tones and colors in photo elements. There was almost none of the dithering (visible dots) that we usually see in both color lasers and inkjets, and the colors were bright instead of faded looking.

CNET Labs' color laser speed tests (pages per minute)
(Longer bars indicate better performance)
Color graphics  
Color text  
Black graphics  
Black text  
Dell Color Laser 5100cn
13.43 
11.3 
24.48 
24.43 
Lexmark C522n
12.31 
14.21 
14.49 
14.41 
Xerox Phaser 8500n
11.05 
11.87 
10.93 
12.07 
HP Color LaserJet 2605dtn
6 
6.74 
9.04 
9 


CNET Labs' color laser quality
(Longer bars indicate better performance)
Color graphics  
Color text  
Black graphics  
Black text  
Dell Color Laser 5100cn
Fair 
Fair 
Good 
Good 
Lexmark C522n
Excellent 
Excellent 
Excellent 
Excellent 
HP Color LaserJet 2605dtn
Good 
Excellent 
Good 
Excellent 
Xerox Phaser 8500n
Good 
Fair 
Good 
Fair 

The HP 2605dtn comes with a standard one-year warranty, but you can expand this to three years with next-day exchange service for $129. HP's support options are exhaustive. The Web site offers live chat with a technician Monday to Friday from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. MT. You can also access user support forums, e-mail support forms, manuals, driver downloads, and an online diagnostic tool. Toll-free phone support is available 24/7, but like many tech companies, HP buries the phone number deep in the support site in the hope that you will eventually give up and try one of the cheaper (for them) automated options.

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