Farba Research Product Review

Copyright 1999 Farba Research All Rights Reserved

Rebuttals may be sent to Rebuttals@FarbaResearch.com
This product review is strictly the opinion of the reviewer, who is not necessarily a Farba Research employee.

Product: HP LaserJettm 4P
Category: laser printer
Manufacturer: Hewlett-Packard
Vendor Website: http://www.hp.com/
Rating: terrific print quality
Reviewer: E. Nicholas Cupery
Review Date: 31 March 1999


I purchased my LaserJet 4P over five years ago, and it is still my only printer. Its 4ppm print speed is starting to seem a bit slow compared to what is available now, and I'm thinking I might like to print in color someday soon, but this 4P meanwhile keeps on cranking out glorious looking output. It has never broken.




This is a terrific printer that is very handy to use. The normal input paper bin is a tray at the bottom and the normal output bin is the top of the printer, which means that there are no plastic trays "sticking out into the wind" anywhere. This is true even for the manual feed; the manual feed is just a thin open slot in the front of the printer that does not require any fold-down tray. There is, however, a straight-through paper path that, when selected manually (by a plastic knob), outputs the stock straight out the back of the printer -- and thus requires about six inches of clearance behind the printer.

This printer will print envelopes from the manual-feed slot. When output via the normal (top) paper path they crinkle as usual and expected, but when output via the straight-through paper path they are not crinkled at all.

The manual-feed slot is used for more than just envelopes; it will accommodate very heavy stock, as well as very small stock. For instance, it will print 3x5 (inch) file cards just fine (even when outputting to the normal output at the top of the printer). The greatest thing about the manual feed for this printer is the fact that one does not have to flip open any doors; all you have to do is cram the individual piece into the slot and wait for the printer feed-mechanism to grab it.

When I first got this printer, I happened to be in Florida in the Spring. I was disappointed by the fact that this printer curled the paper a lot. However, it didn't take too long to realize that the main problem was just ambient humidity. In a normal air-conditioned office environment, this printer does not curl the paper excessively. (I believe that it does curl the paper slightly more than some other printers, and I believe that this is because it has a heated fuser on only one side of the paper.)

The only other complaint I have about this printer is the fact that it prints slightly crooked at all times. By "slightly", I mean about one millimeter difference left-to-right in the top margin of a normal 8.5 inch wide sheet. This is not enough to notice when printing most documents, but it stands out terribly when printing something very close to the edge -- for instance a sheet of business cards. Apparently this is the result of the printer having only one feed-roller to grab the blank sheet. (I saw this exact same problem in the new and much more expensive HP 4000 series printer.) There appears to be no way to eliminate this skew problem when feeding from the normal input tray (yes, I tried skewing the toner cartridge slightly with a layer of masking tape). However, even though the manual-feed input has this exact same problem, one can get perfectly straight output by using the manual-feed slot while forcing the stock slightly to one side, and this is good enough for me.

My final complaint is about the company, not the printer. I had some trouble with some bad toner cartridges not too long ago (Fall of 1998), and I was unable to contact Hewlett-Packard about the problem. They seem to have eliminated all telephone support as well as all online support for their printers. I could not even find an email address at their website. However, I am seeing this same problem with many other companies these days, and I have decided that it is just a sign of the times. This does not mean that I have to like it!


This is yet another in a long line of superb laser printers from Hewlett-Packard. They surely deserve their top-notch reputation for quality.

On the business of support, I think that Hewlett-Packard gets enough of a premium price for its printers that it could certainly afford to answer the phone and respond to email. I sure hope that they will reconsider this practice of hiding from their customers.

Copyright 1999 Farba Research All Rights Reserved

Rebuttals may be sent to Rebuttals@FarbaResearch.com