The squat, round-cornered HP Color LaserJet CP2025n offered middling speed but impressive print quality in our tests. HP carefully claims an engine speed of "up to 21ppm" (pages per minute).

The HP Color LaserJet CP2025n comes reasonably close, hitting 17.5ppm when printing plain text. Its graphics speed of 4.2ppm is pretty good compared with the competition. And the results were generally quite nice: very crisp, black text; fairly natural colours (sometimes tending toward yellow or cyan); and haziness just in some of the finer details, like pinstripes and delicate flowers. Only grayscale photos stymied it, with prints looking greenish, dark, and grainy.

While the HP Color LaserJet CP2025n's performance should please most people, its design and configuration may not. The control panel - a two-line, monochrome LCD and adjacent navigation buttons - is simple. Its 250-sheet input tray and 150-sheet output tray are adequate; the HP Color LaserJet CP2025n also has a 50-sheet multipurpose tray.

Manual duplexing with prompts is available; you reload sheets into the multipurpose tray, which is unusual but not inconvenient. A second, 250-sheet input for the HP Color LaserJet CP2025n costs £95 inc VAT. But overall, the parts feel cheap or awkward. Paper-tray markings are minimal. Moveable parts tend to jiggle, wiggle, or rattle. If you extend the input tray to accommodate legal-size media, it sticks out awkwardly.

While some low-cost printers hit you with high toner costs, the HP Color LaserJet CP2025n commendably restrains itself. The machine ships with starter-size, 1,200-page supplies for black (K), cyan (C), magenta (M), and yellow (Y). A 3,500-page black cartridge costs £118, while each 2800-page colour cartridge costs £111 These prices are far better than those you'll find from laser printers that cost less up front, including the Dell 2130cn and the Lexmark C543dn.

HP offers some nice hand-holding with the HP Color LaserJet CP2025n. The CD-based setup process includes simple animations; there's even a video showing you how to customise the colour quality. A utility called HP ToolBoxFX shows network status and offers troubleshooting help. Only the user guide - in HTML - disappointed me: it's light on illustrations, and it offers little useful information on the driver features.

OUR VERDICT

If your budget restricts you to a lower-cost colour laser, the HP Color LaserJet CP2025n is one of the best choices currently available. While you lose some robustness, you get plenty of good print quality.