HP Color LaserJet Pro M452dw

Big, Fast, Excellent Quality and An Okay CPP

HP's Color LaserJet Pro M452dw
HP's Color LaserJet Pro M452dw single-function printer. Photograph courtesy of HP

About.com has reviewed a few single-function laser printers recently, including a couple from HP with that company’s relatively new JetIntelligence toner reformulation. Both the LaserJet Pro M402dw, a monochrome single-function model, and the Color LaserJet Enterprise M553dn come to mind. Both of them, like the topic of this review, the Color LaserJet Pro M452dw, are strong printers; I’m just not enthusiastic about their cost per page, especially for color pages. Otherwise, overall they are very good printers, and the LaserJet Pro M452dw is no exception.

Design and Features

This LaserJet, with the exception of the upright-standing 3.0-inch touch control panel (shown in the image above), looks like most other single-function machines. It takes paper from a cassette (or the 50-sheet override tray) in the front and printed pages land on top of the machine. Aside from that, this LaserJet comes with just about every productivity and convenience feature you can get on a single-function printer, including just about any mobile connectivity feature you can think of, including Wireless Direct (HP’s Wi-Fi Direct equivalent) and Near-Field Communication, or NFC.

The M452dw measures 11.6 inches tall, by 16.2 inches across, by 18.5 inches from front to back, and it weighs a stout 41 pounds 11 ounces. Hence, it’s not that big and heavy compared to several other in its class and price range—probably too big for besides you on your own desktop, but the good news is that in addition to the above mobile connectivity, this LaserJet supports all three of the basic connectivity options—Ethernet, Wi-Fi, and connecting to a single PC via USB—also.

Performance, Print Quality, Paper Handling

HP rates this printer at about 28 pages per minute (ppm) for lightly formatted text pages, but as mentioned here a few times, when you start adding formatting, images, graphics, and colors, the skids apply to that 28ppm quickly. In fact, my formatted test pages knocked the ppm down to just over 10ppm, which isn’t bad for a midrange printer.

As laser devices go, this one’s print quality was top notch across the board. Text looked near-typesetter quality; photos (while not quite photo-inkjet quality) were exceptional for a laser, as were business graphics. In fact, according to my colleague M. David Stone at PCMag, “The graphics quality is among the best I've seen in our tests for a color laser, making it easily good enough for marketing materials like trifold brochures and one-page handouts.” Print quality was darned good.

Out-of-the-box, the M452dw has two input sources, a 250-sheet main tray, and a 50-sheet “multipurpose,” or override tray for printing envelopes, labels, forms, and so on. If that’s not enough, you can purchase a second 550-sheet cassette for $149.99 at HP’s store site. Printed pages, of course, land on top of the machine.

Cost Per Page

Like the other HP laser printers we’ve reviewed recently, this one has a lukewarm cost per page. When you use the high-yield toner cartridges with this LaserJet, black-and-white pages cost about 2.2 cents each and color pages about 13.6 cents. As long as you don’t print too much, say no more than a few hundred pages a week, the monochrome CPP of 2.2 cents is livable, but not good if you plan to take this printer anywhere near its 50,000-page monthly duty cycle, or the number of pages HP says you can print each month without undue wear on the printer. The color CPP? All I can say is that it is not designed to encourage color printing.

Conclusion

Until the toner starts becoming available at a significantly lower per-page cost at third-party outlets, this will remain an occasional-use machine, which is fine if that’s what you need.