These days colour laser multifunction printers don’t come at much lower prices than the HP LaserJet Pro 100 Color MFP M175nw. It offers print/scan/copy/fax capabilities, and a lot of connectivity, in a compact shiny black package.

Unfortunately, the machine is rather slow and limited for busy home or small-office users, and its toner is expensive.

The LaserJet Pro 100 Color MFP is pretty easy to install via USB or ethernet, though the WPS-only Wi-Fi setup is relatively bothersome, you’ll need it to enjoy the machine’s compatibility with cloud printing services from HP and Dell.

Using the 1.0 version installation CD, we encountered smeary-looking output when printing on heavier paper (including HP’s own 220g glossy paper for colour lasers). The problem arose only with certain applications, including Microsoft PowerPoint, Adobe Acrobat, Illustrator and Photoshop. HP has incorporated a fix into the 1.1 version of the installation CD and you can also find the fix online, but we wish that HP had made the update available for automatic download during installation.

The driver update couldn't solve all the Laserjet Pro 100 Color MFP’s performance problems. Chief among these is its slow, printing plain text on plain paper at a rate of less than 11 pages per minute whether on the PC or the Mac, below the average for this product category. Copying speed was slow, and scanning speeds were interminable. On the Mac, a full page photo took about 80 seconds to print, which works out to a speed of 0.75 ppm.

Output quality ranged from competent to disappointing. Colour images showed a subtle backdrop of very fine horizontal lines, which made images look slightly fuzzy. Scanned images had a distinctly yellow cast and harsh shadows. Line art scans showed jagged curves and busy moiré patterning in intricate areas.

The HP LaserJet Pro 100 Color MFP has just enough features to handle a basic small or home-office situation. Paper-handling features include a 150 sheet paper tray on the bottom of the unit, and a 35 sheet automatic document feeder for the letter-size scanner. The 50 sheet output tray is modest and duplexing is manual only. There are no media card slots.

The LaserJet 100 M175nw uses a fairly unique rotating cartridge system. A button on the control panel positions each cartridge for removal however, you must close the cover before you rotate to the next cartridge, which makes replacing multiple cartridges quite tedious.

Of greater concern is the price HP charges for its toner cartridges. The 1200-page black cartridge costs $50 (£30), or 4.2 cents per page, while the 1000 page magenta, yellow and cyan cartridges cost $56 (£32) apiece or 5.4 cpp. Altogether, a four colour page costs a whopping 20.4 cents. We've seen remanufactured and compatible toner cartridges offered online for about 40 percent lees.

The documentation is well written and thorough, but it's available online only. We remembered why we didn’t like this approach when we ran into a dead end ('page not found') while seeking help on how to change the toner cartridges.

OUR VERDICT

The HP LaserJet Pro 100 Color MFP M175nw sports a low price tag, but it makes you pay in other ways, from time idling as you wait for output to appear to high toner costs. There aren’t many good options at this low end of the category, but the Dell 1355cnw is a little faster.