The HP LaserJet Pro P1102w touches all the right bases for a personal monochrome laser. It's small and light, it's fast, and it delivers reasonably high-quality output across the board. It's also less expensive than HP's last generation LaserJet P1006 Printer, which it replaces, but with improved speed and output quality plus the addition of WiFi as standard, so you can share it easily. All of this makes the P1102w a reasonably attractive choice, even though it's not quite a match for its most direct competition, the Editors' Choice Brother HL-2170W, like the P1006 before it, the P1102w is smaller and lighter than many ink jets—an important consideration if you need a printer that won't take up a lot of desktop real estate. The P1102w measures just 7.7 by 13.7 by 9.4 inches (HWD) and weighs 11.6 pounds.As you might expect from the small size, the printer offers only limited paper capacity, at 150 sheets for the main tray. That should be enough for most personal use, but its a little low if you're expecting to take advantage of the WiFi connection to share the printer between two or more people. If you print a combined total of more than about 30 pages per day, you'll be refilling the tray more than once a week, which could become an annoying chore.
Helping make up for the low paper capacity is the convenience of a 10-sheet multipurpose tray, which lets you print on different types of paper—checks or letterhead for example—without having to swap out the paper in the main tray or manually feed each page using a single-sheet manual feed.
Setup and SpeedI installed the printer using a USB connection on a system running Windows Vista. According to HP, it also comes with drivers for Vista 64-bit; both 32- and 64-bit versions of Windows 7, XP, Server 2003, and Server 2008; and Mac OS X version 10.4 through 10.6. In addition, HP says you can download drivers for "nearly any Linux distribution available today" from HP's Web site.
As with most low-end mono lasers, physical setup is easy. Find a spot for the printer, remove the packing materials, load paper, and plug in the power cord. You then have a choice of either plugging in the USB cable and letting the driver install automatically from the printer or running the automated installation program from disc and connecting the supplied USB cable when the program tells you to. (Note that the automatic installation of the driver stored in the printer doesn't work with the Mac, but HP says the driver will install in all the versions of Windows that the printer works with.)
Once installed, the P1102w works swimmingly. The engine is rated at 19 pages per minute (ppm), which even for a personal printer is modest by today's standards. However, the actual throughput is a match for other printers with faster rated speeds. I timed it on our business applications suite (using QualityLogic's hardware and software for timing) at a total of 7 minutes 36 seconds, essentially tied with the 23 ppm Editors' Choice Brother HL-2170W, at 7:30. Either printer is significantly faster than anything else in its price class