We have seen standard printers evolving from basic printing peripherals to the ones that feature a built-in scanner and fax. This add-on feature not only made the printer an all-in-one multifunctional peripheral, but also made it space and energy efficient. The next phase was implementing networking and wireless features, which made the printer shareable on the network so that they can be used in larger organisations. We have now seen variants in AIOs from mono to colour, inkjet and laser options, ones with duplex printing and others. HP has released a new multi-functional printer with the concept of a built-in hotspot for instant connectivity. The HP HotSpot LaserJet Pro M1218nfs MFP is the new entrant with a unique idea; it implements the features of a router in an existing all-in-one printing peripheral for SOHO and small business setups. Let us take a closer look.
HP LaserJet Pro HotSpot M1218nfs MFP
Design and build
The HotSpot LaserJet Pro M1218nfs MFP is built using a very compact chassis and has a very small footprint. It occupies the least amount of space on the desk or in a corner. The AIO has a rugged build quality with an all black matte-finished exterior. We did find the paper output tray a little feeble; it can be damaged easily if mishandled. The top features an A4-sized flatbed scanner with an ADF, but the lid is quite heavy due to the built-in ADF mechanism and tends to slam on the scanner glass if not closed with care. The toner compartment is below the scanner section, which means you need to lift open the scanner to access it. The mechanism to access the toner compartment has been provided with a spring that gently lowers the scanner after accessing the toner—wish the manufacturer would have paid a little attention to the scanner lid in the similar manner. We did find a minor glitch in this section too—when we tried lifting the scanner lid to place a document for scanning, we ended up lifting the entire scanner section and reached the toner compartment around 50 percent of the time. The locking mechanism in this review piece was either malfunctioning or it is too weak.
Good build quality, matte-finished exterior
Moving on, the front features a detachable paper-out tray that needs to be attached when installing the printer. The bottom features a pullout paper feed tray, which can be filled with 150 sheets. Towards the left of the paper tray is a single backlit mechanical power switch. On the left side is a foldable control panel with a 2.5-inch dot-matrix monochrome display. Sadly, the LCD display is not backlit and readability in low light or in complete darkness is impossible. Wonder why HP has left out this minor area. The control panel is a bit flimsy too and does not stay firm while in use. The rubber buttons are well-spaced and have good tactility. Indicator LEDs are available for standby, error and toner levels. The rear panel features the interfaces for USB, Ethernet and phone lines.
The HP HotSpot LaserJet Pro M1218nfs MFP comprises a printer, scanner, copier and fax machine. The printer is a laser-based monochrome imaging system that can print on A4 paper with resolutions of 600 x 600 dpi. Sadly, the printer does not feature an auto duplex mechanism for printing on both sides. This is one area which HP has left out to cut down on the price and make the printer affordable for SOHO and SMB clients. The printer uses a low heating technology-based toner and fuser to save in energy costs. The toner used here is different from conventional toners and fuses to the paper at lower temperatures. The fuser drum too heats up only the outer surface with low heat and only when the paper is passed through it. This enables the drum to heat up instantly and only when used, thus allowing you to save on huge energy bills. The toner used here cannot be replaced by conventional toner powder, as it needs higher temperatures to fuse to the paper. If used, this could damage the printer mechanism and drum, as the toner will not heat up completely and can get wiped off the paper while passing through the mechanism, thus clogging the gears and rollers. The low temperature also helps avoid paper curling.
Scanner lid is too heavy due to the ADF
The scanner featured here is a flatbed A4 size and can scan images at resolutions of 1200 x 1200 dpi. The scanner is coupled with an ADF for automatic scanning and faxing and can hold up to 35 pages in the paper input tray. The scanner and printer together can be used as a PC-less copier machine that can copy documents at resolutions of 600 x 400 dpi. Enlargement and reduction of copies is also possible, with up to 4 copies per page printing. Lastly, the fax machine features a 33.6 Kbps built-in modem. The fax machine can hold 500 pages in its memory in case of paper runouts. Connectivity options are USB 2.0 for PC interface, an Ethernet port for wired networking and Wi-Fi 02.11 b/g/n for wireless connectivity to an existing network.
Foldable control panel, but no back-light for the display
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