Review: HP LaserJet Pro 400 MFP M425dn

HP LaserJet 400 Pro MFP M425dn

Well-built software and the intuitive interface of its touch-sensitive control panel is icing on the cake for Hewlet-Packard's LaserJet Pro 400 MFP M425dn, a monochromatic multifunction printer for the small-to-medium sized office or department. For $499 list, the unit delivers a capable, two-sided PCL/PostScript laser printer with high-resolution black-and-white copier, color scanner and fax that's easy to install, set up and use locally or over a network.

An imposing figure, HP's 400-series MFP stands 17 inches tall, but needs almost 10 inches more than that for accessing its scanner and copier bed. Its squarish footprint occupies about 14 by 16 inches, and all everyday functions are accessible from the front. These include access to its 250-sheet paper cassette (with low-paper indicator gauge) and toner service, which takes place through a large tilt-down door that also helps facilitate the clearing of paper jams.

Also in front is a USB 2.0 port for walk-up printing of JPG and PDF formats and for saving scanned images to JPG, PDF, RTF, TXT, BMP, PNG and TIFF formats. Scanned images also can be shipped off to a server, email recipient or the cloud. The scanner's hardware maxes out at 1,200-x-1,200 dpi when using the flatbed, and can handle up to 8.5-by-11.7-inch originals. Maximum resolution when using the auto-document feeder is 300-x-300 dpi, and it's rated at 20 pages per minute for letter-sized, black-and-white and 9 ppm for color.

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Though the M425dn has a rated duty cycle of 50,000 pages a month, HP recommends a page volume between 750 and 3,000 pages, placing it squarely in the small-office category. The black-and-white-only copier supports 600-x-600 dpi and is rated to crank out copies as quickly as the printer can print -- that's at 35 ppm. Like most copiers, originals are placed in the top-loading (50-sheet) feeder, which wakes the M425dn from power-save mode. Two button presses and 10 seconds later, a perfect duplicate (rotated 90 degrees) is dumped into the 150-sheet output bin. A multipurpose tray can hold 50 sheets or 10 envelopes, bringing the unit's standard capacity to 300 sheets; a 500-sheet third tray is a $125 option.

NEXT: Print Performance And Software When you've been at the printer game for as long as HP, good software usually goes with the territory. And that's clearly the case here; the M425dn was among the fastest and easiest we've seen to set up and configure. Much of the credit goes to well-developed and bullet-proof software tools, including its driver and utility installer for Mac OS X and Windows, and its remote management software.

Along with the printer, power cable and telephone cord came a multilingual, illustrated quick installation guide (which we didn't need) and installation disks for Mac OS X and Windows. On the Mac side, we were impressed with the level of integration between the install utility and the operating system. For example, once drivers were installed, the installer optionally launches the Print & Fax preferences tool, displays step-by-step instructions on how to add and configure the new printer for use by the host Mac and offers to place a copy of the utility in the Dock. During setup, the printer acquired an IP address over its gigabit Ethernet automatically and was identified by the software right away. Total setup time (not including file copying) was about five minutes. The experience on Windows was similar, if perhaps less polished. There's no Linux driver.

Going well beyond consumables monitoring, HP delivers an excellent utility for Mac OS X and Windows that gives IT or service resellers control from anywhere on the network over nearly every settable feature and function of the M425dn, including networking, power-save settings, scanning and faxing, tray configuration, duplex mode, font and file upload, diagnostic and, of course, supplies management. On the Mac (shown), the tool is modeled after Apple's System Preferences control panel and even pops up printer messages on a designated Mac.

As for print speed, the HP LaserJet Pro 400 MFP M425dn printed exactly according to HP claims. For testing, we sent a 35-page black-text document to the printer. The first page appeared in 12 seconds, and all 35 pages were in the tray after 1:10 minutes. We repeated the test with a document containing color graphics with the same result. Next we ordered the copier to run 35 copies of one of the test pages, again with the same result.

To vary that old phrase, no one gets fired for buying Hewlett-Packard printers. And with its solid construction, versatile functionality and utilities, and mobile printing through HP's ePrint for Android and iOS, or Apple's AirPrint, the HP LaserJet Pro 400 MFP M425dn would be among the safest $500 investments by any small business.