Unashamedly aimed at small businesses with limited budgets, the HP LaserJet Pro MFP M125nw is a compact and easy to install multifunction laser printer which delivers good quality print, scan and copy facilities at a very affordable price. It also comes with Wi-Fi, plus support for remote printing over the Internet. However, in order to keep the price low a number of compromises have been made, putting this little MFP at a disadvantage when compared to alternatives from rival vendors.
Little Black Box
Built to the usual HP standards, the M125nw is a very compact desktop device housed in a smart all-black plastic casing with the usual MFP arrangements – in this case a laser print engine plus a flatbed scanner on top.
Print and copy resolution is 600dpi, with speeds of up to 20ppm when printing or 7ppm when copying (5ppm if copying a colour original). The first page out appears in just under 10 seconds and software is included for use on both Windows and Apple Mac computers, with HP Smart Install for diskless installation on Windows systems.
A small 2-line LCD control panel can be flipped out at the front for manual configuration and walk-up copying plus there’s a USB port at the back (cable included) for local connectivity with a wired Ethernet port alongside. A Wi-Fi 802.11b/g/n interface is also built-in and this can be used both for shared network printing and to provide support for direct printing from a mobile device.
Added to which the M125nw can be registered with the HP Connected portal for remote printing using the HP ePrint service, with Apple AirPrint another supported option.
Unsurprisingly, with a price tag of just £118 (ex. VAT) you don’t get colour output, just a simple mono laser with a single cartridge containing both toner and the required optical consumables which proved very easy to fit, slipping in under a lift-up panel beneath the scanner. A starter cartridge, good for around 700 pages, comes with the MFP, with standard (1,500 pages) cartridges selling for around £50 (ex. VAT).
It’s also worth noting that, despite only having a mono laser, the flatbed A4 scanner can handle colour, at up to 1200dpi with digital sender technology to enable scans to be distributed by email or saved to a network share. The usual Web interface is available for local management and there the option for the MFP to switch itself into a low-power (0.7 Watts) standby state when not in use.
Good On Paper
So far, so good and, on paper at least the M125nw certainly sounds like a great little small business MFP. Moreover, it delivers the goods in terms of crisp text and graphics when both printing and copying, and it certainly doesn’t cost a lot to either buy or run.
We also liked the scanning software which enabled us to capture scans wirelessly and save them in variety of formats including PDF and rotate and crop the scanned image before saving. There’s even a TWAIN driver for use with document management packages. Start to use this baby MFP, however, and you soon discover the compromises made to keep the price down and the limitations they impose.
Compromises such as a single paper feeder which can only take 150 A4 sheets and which is both open to the elements and vulnerable rather than an enclosed drawer. Printed pages are ejected face down just beneath the scanner with a, similarly, vulnerable flip-out catch tray limited to just 100 pages. Plus, although HP claims support for duplex printing, you have to do this manually, which means collecting the printed pages, turning them over and putting them back in order to print the other sides.
Sure it works and the driver and MFP tell you what to do, but if you’re not near the printer it can be very inconvenient. We also got the pages the wrong way round on occasion and had to start over. Although understandable at this price point the scanner also has no automatic feeder which means you’re limited to single pages and one side at a time with less than easy to see alignment marks pressed in the dark plastic surround. We would have like to see them highlighted in a lighter colour.
We also found the un-lit LCD panel difficult to read even when swivelled up towards us. And finally, although we could specify the number of copies required (up to 99) and lighten or darken the output when copying, we had to remember to cancel those settings if copying something else straight after.
Good In Parts
On the plus side the Wi-Fi worked well in our tests and by registering the printer with the HP Connected portal we were able to send prints to it remotely from a mobile using the apps available on Google and Apple app stores. SNMP support is also built in, enabling the MFP to be remotely monitored as part of a managed print service and the 8,000 pages per month duty cycle is nice to have although the “recommended” volume is a more modest 250-2,000 pages per month.
That said it’s hard to imagine this MFP being used to handle anywhere near that kind of workload. The laser engine and networking are up to it, but paper handling lets the LaserJet Pro MFP M125nw down, which is disappointing, especially given the ready supply of other, more capable, alternatives to be had in the same price bracket.