Priced around £320, the HP Color LaserJet CM1312nfi, with its colour laser printer and built-in 10/100 Ethernet connectivity, is a good fit for cost-conscious small-to-medium work environments looking to add colour to office documents.
The HP Color LaserJet CM1312nfi has a compact design that doesn't take up a lot of space, but it does weigh a hefty 25kg, so it needs to be installed in a sturdy place. The device also features a 150-sheet paper tray and a 20-page automatic document feeder-handy for multi-page faxes, copies, and scans. One feature we miss is automatic double-sided printing; the software driver offers assistance in performing manual duplex jobs, but it's not quite as easy as having built-in auto-duplexing.
Once installed, the HP Color LaserJet CM1312nfi's software scanner driver is easy enough to use, but differs from most scanning software we've encountered.
With the HP Color LaserJet CM1312nfi, you start with a blank scanning window, then pick the type of document you want to scan and the settings. The CM1312nfi then scans the entire letter-sized scan bed, and you crop, rotate, and so on before saving the scan to a folder or to an email program.
Most scanning software first performs a quick, low-resolution preview scan; you then set the area you want scanned and set the resolution and the like, and then perform the scan.
HP's method made it a little difficult for us to run our usual timed tests, as there is no way to control the amount of horizontal area scanned; there's only a vertical slider that allows you to approximate the length of your document, which is not easy to do with odd-sized documents when you can't see them.
The HP Color LaserJet CM1312nfi prints documents at 600dpi, and the scanner can scan letter-sized documents with a resolution as high as 1,200dpi at 24 bits.
Although it's not meant to be a fine art scanner - offering only 1,200dpi, 24-bit scanning, and no transparency unit - the scans from the HP Color LaserJet CM1312nfi were of Good quality, with colours in our photo scan tending to be a bit blue but pleasing overall. The scans lacked some detail in darker areas of the photo, but did a good job capturing details in our resolution test target.
A copy of a magazine cover turned out very well, with accurate colours, saturated blacks, and good-looking text. Copies of our test photo lacked sharpness and had a slight green colourcast.
The HP Color LaserJet CM1312nfi's printer really excelled at our Text Quality and Fine Lines and Gradients tests, with clean legible text even at tiny point sizes, and thin, unbroken lines. The CM1312nfi is great for typical office documents, and good for photo and artistic projects.
In terms of speed, we've seen faster colour laser printers, especially in our first page out test - at 33 seconds, the HP Color LaserJet CM1312nfi is about average, though it took about twice as long to complete the test as the fastest printers we've tested. That said, we're confident that the CM1312nfi is fast enough for most situations.
If you're looking for an inexpensive colour laser multifunction device for your small-to-medium workgroup, the HP Color LaserJet CM1312nfi is worth a look. It offers printing, scanning, copying, and faxing, with an automatic document feeder and built-in networking. Best for business docs, and solid all around, the CM1312nfi is something of a bargain.