At first glance, the HP LaserJet 1160 looks like a stripped-down version of the HP LaserJet 1320 dressed in a different colour. Both printers have the same compact design, a 133MHz processor, 16MB of RAM, and a half-ream main paper tray. Both deliver good quality text. The HP LaserJet 1160, however, lacks the built-in duplexer, the networkability, and the expandable memory and paper capacity of its cousin, the HP 1320. We'd pay the difference between the two models just to get the duplexer. If your heart is set on a greyscale laser printer, if you lack plans to expand your home or business empire, and you really, truly don't mind turning paper over when you need to print on both sides, the HP LaserJet 1160 will suffice. The Samsung ML-1740 fits the same bill, however, for nearly a third of the price.
The nondescript, user friendly HP LaserJet 1160 is a light-grey and white plastic cube that measures 355 by 355 by 254mm. The 125-sheet capacity paper-output bin, the pop-up media-support ledge, and the control panel rest on the white plastic top of the printer. Luckily for your crowded desk, no paper trays protrude from this seamless machine, as on the more fully equipped HP LaserJet 1320.
The control panel consists of two buttons -- one is green, the other is an orange Cancel button -- and four lights. The green button lets you print a demo or configuration page, or signal the 1160 to print the next page when you're hand-feeding sheets in manual mode. The top light flashes to indicate an absent toner cartridge; the middle LED lights up for paper jams and problems involving the paper tray or the print cartridge; the bottom light signals that the device is ready to print. The HP LaserJet 1160's lights turn on and flash by themselves or in various combinations to communicate messages about the printer's status. Should you run into a glitch and can't decode the flashing lights or find your electronic manual, don't panic: the Services tab in the print-driver menu contains a graphical illustration of the control panel that translates the pattern of lights into text. Though this arrangement may not be ideal for some, the HP's controls are still less confusing than the hieroglyphic buttons of the Okidata Oki B4250.
The toner cartridge for the HP LaserJet 1160 sits inside the printer's front panel and slides in easily when aligned with the tabs along the side. Just below the front panel an alternative media-input slot lets you feed in envelopes, postcards, labels, or transparencies. You can also use this slot to feed in the second side of a document for manual duplexing. If you open the rear output door, a straight paper path allows printing on heavy stock.
What you see on the HP LaserJet 1160 is what you get: 16MB of RAM and a main paper tray that holds 250 sheets of plain paper. You can add the 1160 to a network, but only if you attach it to an external print server such as the HP Jetdirect 170x Ethernet print server or the HP Jetdirect 380x 802.11b Wireless External Print Server.
The 1160 connects to any computer running Windows 98 and above or Mac OS 9.1 and up, either via the printer's USB 2.0 or parallel port. You must supply a printer cable yourself. Setup is simple, and HP evidently thinks so too, because you get only a one-sheet quick-start setup guide without a printed user manual. Fortunately, the guide's pictographic instructions are nearly foolproof, and a complete user guide is available on the accompanying CD. If you run into problems you can consult HP's thorough Web site for help with drivers and manuals.
The 1160's print drivers are easy to use and contain a small but adequate set of options. Without an automatic duplexer, if you want to print on two sides of a sheet of paper, you're limited to feeding by hand. At least you can choose the orientation so that you can, for example, print pages side by side, like in a book.
The 1160 prints at either 600dpi or 1,200dpi, and the EconoMode setting reduces the amount of toner used per page. HP warns that this option reduces print quality, but the sample we printed in EconoMode looked decent enough. The 1160's drivers lack an n-up setting to print reduced-size pages on to a single sheet, but they will automatically resize your digital print job to a variety of paper sizes, including standard envelope, legal, and even 100x148mm Japanese postcards.
The HP LaserJet 1160's toner cartridge is supposed to last for 2,500 pages.
The HP LaserJet 1160's text quality at 1,200dpi is excellent. The letters in our printer-test documents came out looking clean, dark, and sharp, with no missing pieces or toner overspray. Graphics, however, were only fair. Photos looked too pale, and the lighter ends of the gradient disappeared entirely. Dark areas of the test document had a scaly, partly shiny, partly dull pattern etched on them.
The HP LaserJet 1160 performed on a par with our expectations for a laser printer of its size. In our tests, it printed almost 16ppm (pages per minute) for both text and graphics, an impressive speed for this compact device. Its more mature sibling, the HP LaserJet 1320, was faster for text, at 17.4ppm, but slower for graphics, at 13.3ppm. We ran into no paper jams or other such problems with this silent machine.
||Black graphics speed||
||Black text speed|
Performance analysis written by CNET Labs project leader Dong Van Ngo.
Service and support
HP offers a wealth of assistance on its well-organised Web site. There you can click Support And Drivers and enter the model number to reach a technical-support page for the 1160. This model's product page contains a wish list that helps you set up, install, and configure the printer, download drivers and software, or recycle toner cartridges. If none of those selections answers your needs, a second list links to FAQs, manuals, and details on replacement parts.
From the support Web page, you can also contact an HP technician or initiate HP Instant Support, a diagnostic service that downloads tools on to your computer to analyse problems and lend solutions from HP's knowledge base. You can also link to a support forum to read postings and ask questions of fellow customers.
Edited by Elsa Wenzel
Additional editing by Tom Espiner