If you need a fast monochrome laser printer with bags of other features including scanning, copying and faxing, the HP LaserJet Pro M1536dnf looks good on paper. Priced at around £210, it also includes support for duplex printing as well as an Ethernet port, so you can plug it into your network and share it among multiple computers around your home.
Don't choose it for its looks
Printers are never exactly things of beauty, but the M1536 is uglier than most. It's all odd shapes and awkward angles and because all those features need to be crammed into the chassis, HP has had to make it quite a tall machine (it measures 373mm high), even if its footprint (at 441x343 mm) isn’t all that big by multifunction standards.
The control panel at the front includes a two-line, monochrome LCD display along with a host of dedicated controls for scanning and copying, as well as a numerical keypad for entering fax numbers. There are also quick dial buttons on the far left of the panel that allow you to instantly recall commonly used fax numbers. Despite the limited amount of information that can be shown on the screen at any one time, the printer's menus are smartly laid out and as a result are easy to navigate around using the directional pad.
Sitting on top of the scanner there's a automatic document feeder that can accept up to 35 sheets of paper. This allows you to automatically copy or fax multi-page documents without having to manually feed in sheets to the scanner one at a time. It can be a great time saver when used in busy home offices.
Setting up the printer isn't quite as easy as it should be, as the instruction manual is pretty obtuse and likely to be baffling if you've never used a laser printer before. The instructions for preparing and installing the toner cartridge are particularly poor, especially as it awkwardly needs to be placed deep in the belly of the machine. The printer doesn't have Wi-Fi built in, but it does have an Ethernet port alongside the standard USB port, so it is easy to share it with multiple computers across your home network. Setting up the network connection is also very straightforward.
Double-hinged scanner lid
The M1536's scanner has an optical resolution of 1,200 dpi and unlike many multifunction models, the scanner lid is double hinged so it can rise up to accommodate thicker books, which is handy. It's extremely quick to copy as well, taking just ten seconds to photocopy our test page. However, the copy results weren't as good as we would have liked. It dropped a lot of the fine graduation in grey fills, for example, and text looked a lot rougher than on the original document.
Paper is fed into the printer from a fold out tray at the bottom, which can hold a maximum of 250 sheets. There's also a ten-sheet multipurpose feeder on top that's useful for printing cards or envelopes.
Once up and running, the printer is a fairly pacey performer. It took 35 seconds to print our ten-page black and white text document, while printing our ten-page business presentation was quick too, at a mere 43 seconds. Our black and white graphics test document was similarly fast taking 32 seconds. These results compare pretty favourably with other multifunction laser printers on the market at the moment.
We've got no complaints about the print quality of text either, as it produces pages with clean but dark looking black text that's sharp and defined. Graphic results aren't quite as pristine as there was some speckling visible on the bands of grey in our test page.
Apart from paper, there's only one consumable to worry about with the M1536: the toner cartridge. This model uses a CE278A toner cartridge, which is rated at 2100 pages and costs around £60 online. That works out at a running cost of 3.55p per page, including 0.7p for paper costs. That's neither widely expensive for a laser model, nor particularly cheap, so it slots in somewhere towards the middle in terms of cost of ownership.
Overall, the HP LaserJet Pro M1536dnf is an accomplished laser multifunction model. It's reasonably speedy to use and produces the crisp and inky text that you'd associate with a good laser model. However, it doesn’t really offer anything we haven’t seen before and its running costs are nothing special.