Crisp, clear printing – HP’s LaserJet 5L – Hardware Review – Evaluation

Joey Latimer

Rating: * * * 1/2

WIN/DOS_ A design departure from previous HewlettPackard printers, the LaserJet SL takes paper in and spits it out standing up. This makes loading and unloading paper less frustrating. It also means documents emerge the same way we read them: with text flowing from top to bottom. And with a footprint of 13.2 by 12.3 inches and weighing a mere 15.7 pounds, the SL makes the original LaserJet look like a refrigerator, something you’ll appreciate as soon as you try to fit it on your desk.

Setting up the SL with Windows 3.11 was a breeze (the Windows 95 software wasn’t,t yet available with this review unit). Graphic test prints showed the 5L’s speed to be average for 600dpi printers costing less than $1,000. The print output, however, was some of the best we,we’ve seen. The 5L equaled the excellent line drawing of the Panasonic KX-P6500 and even showed some subtler shadings. Although our text tests purposely stress a printer’s capability and left the 5L with a slow 4ppm rating, reallife work (such as letters where pages aren’t full) showed the 5L humming at a rate of almost 6ppm.

The 5L comes with software for DOS and Windows. The DOSbased Status Monitor reports errors and any changes in the printer’s status. The DOS Remote Control Panel lets you set such attributes as number of copies, paper size, resolution, and density. The Windows software bundled with the 5L also features a Status Monitor program, as well as an HP 5L Driver Help program that lets you set print quality, density, resolution, and number of copies in Windows. Although the included software got the job done for us, it didn’t,t have nearly as many options as the Windows software included with the Panasonic KX-P6500.

The 5L lets you load 100 sheets of regular-weight paper (one of our few gripes; many printers allow 250), or up to 10 envelopes, into the paper input bin and features a single-sheet feeder for transparencies, envelopes, and stationery. The output can be directed to the upright bin on the top of the printer or out the front. Beware when feeding jobs out the front, though. In our tests, feeding more than 25 sheets of paper or more than one transparency resulted in paper jams.

The 5L comes equipped with 1MB of RAM, expandable to 8MB. However, memory enhancement technology and 26 built-in scalable typefaces make the 5L seem like it has more memory than it does. We never ran into an out-out-of-memory error, even when we printed complex, multilayered graphics. We called Hewlett-Packard when we did have a question about using the 5L with Windows 95 and received prompt, knowledgeable, and courteous help from technical support. HP offers a one-year warranty on the 5L’s materials and workmanship.

Featuring excellent reliability and print quality, coupled with fair speed, the 5L is a suitable 600dpi printer for small to moderate work loads. It’s 4ppm speed rating may seem slow, but the quality of the print output is well worth the wait.

RELATED ARTICLE: Hewlett-Packard LaserJet 5L

System Configuration: 600dpi resolution, 4ppm, output, 100-sheet input paper tray, 26 resident fonts, IMB of RAM List/Avg. Street Price: $599/$479 Manufacturer: Hewlett-Packard, 800-752-0900

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