HP Laserjet P1102w - It's not worth the hassle
Simple to setup, small and quiet
Loses its wireless settings when power is lost
The Bottom Line:
There are much better wireless printers on the market.
The HP Laserjet P1102w printer is a low budget laser printer with built-in wireless connectivity. It only prints in black, but is quite small and relatively quiet. The printer itself will run you $120-130 if you shop around, but be warned that the toner is very expensive. On top of that, the wireless functionality is so unreliable that I wish it wasn’t even there because I work in IT and hate having to support these things when our customers have (frequent) problems.
This printer uses the HP 85A toner, model CE285A, which retails for around $60 if you buy the genuine HP stuff. I’ve seen knock-off toner carts on Amazon for as little as ten bucks, but the user ratings imply that you get what you pay for there. Basically, this printer costs new what you’ll pay for two toner cart replacements. No wonder it’s so cheap up front, because HP makes their money later on. One cart is supposed to yield up to 1,600 pages, but we all know that “up to” stat is usually a rarity.
Setting up this printer is easy. After taking it out of the box, you have to pull off a few pieces of tape and then remove the toner cart to pull out some shipping plugs, and HP does include a handy visual guide for how to unpack the printer. After that, you put the driver CD in your computer and run the installer. You have to choose between the wired and wireless option, so you’ll need to decide up front how you plan to use this printer. The wired option is quite simple and installs like any other printer using a USB cable. The wireless option is supposed to set things up for you automatically, but this printer has a nasty habit of forgetting those settings.
What happens is that if this printer loses power for whatever reason, it also loses its wireless network settings. It will show as offline on your PC and no amount of reinstalling will make it talk again until you physically reconnect it with a USB cable, then it magically refreshes itself and works again. Just in case you missed my point, let me simplify – this is a “wireless” printer that has to be reconnected to your computer every time the power goes out.
Furthermore, let’s say you configure everything at your desk then decide to move the printer across the room. If so, you better not unplug it or you’ll have to drag your computer over to where you want to place the printer. I literally had to hold a laptop in one hand while plugging the USB cable into the printer just to make it work on top of a bookshelf opposite the computer desk. And I had to do this every time the power went out. Try living in the south where regular bad weather (not to mention hurricanes) comes during the summer. That printer eventually found its way back to the desk and now operates under the wired option. True story.
When it actually prints, the results are good. It’s a solid printer in terms of print quality, so long as you’re fine with black and white. Text comes out clean and clear with a variety of different fonts, and some graphics come out OK so long as they don’t have too many colors. When you send it a print job, the printer fires up very quickly and spits out the paper, so it’s got a good response time even when sitting idle. According to HP, it can print up to 19 ppm and has an effective output quality of 1200 dpi. In addition to regular letter size paper, you can adjust the feeder to take envelopes, labels, cards, and so on.
HP was generous enough to include a USB cable with this printer, which is always nice, but the one they give you is only about three feet long. I suppose they think that if you bought a printer with a wireless option, you probably won’t be using it with a wired connection. That being said, when the problem arises where you have to plug it back in like I previously described, that short little cable can add to the annoyance.
Overall, I am not impressed with this printer. It works great as a wired laser printer and would be good for the type of person who prints off something every now and then. If you need a workhorse for your office, you should spend the money to get something that can handle the tougher workload. The wireless option is so flaky that I wouldn’t want to rely on it unless you’re pretty tech-savvy. There are much better wireless printers on the market than the HP LJ P1102w.