If you listened to the futurists and educational pundits, by now we’d have paper-free schools where everything is assigned, completed and handed in digitally. Happily, this isn’t the way the history played out and there’s still room in the curriculum for everything from paper quizzes to hand-in worksheets. HP’s Color LaserJet Pro M452dw fits into the scheme perfectly with fast, moderately-priced printing that is as good as it gets these days.
While the base M452dw is smaller and lighter than its predecessor, it still takes up 11.6- by 18.5- by 16.2 inches and weighs in at a hefty 41-pounds. It can sit on a table, a shelf or you can add several trays to it, making it the equivalent of a high-end printer station that a small school or department at a larger one can share. Like other mid-range printers, the M452dw lacks a finisher to fold or staple its output.
The white printer has a tilt up 3-inch color touch-screen and a 250-page paper tray. You can quickly add a 550-sheet base for $150. It’s about as flexible as a printer gets these days with the ability to monitor a school- or district’s worth of printers with HP’s Jet Admin software.
Able to connect via cable (USB or Ethernet) or wirelessly (with built-in WiFi), the M452dw is versatile and flexible. Alternatively, you can put what you want to print on a USB thumb drive and insert it into the printer’s USB port. It works with Word and Acrobat documents, PowerPoint slide shows and .jpg images. The touch screen shows a preview and there are size and orientation options.
In a magic trick that few printers can perform, the M452dw has a Near Field Communications (NFC) spot to the left of the printer’s top. Set up your image or document in HP’s ePrint app, tap the phone or tablet onto the NFC zone and the printing process starts. Be careful because the NFC spot is in an angled portion of the printer and if you place the device there you run the risk of your device sliding off.
You can also email items directly to the printer via HP’s eprint with apps for Android, iOS or Windows Phone; it can also print items from Chromebooks via Google’s Cloud Print. The app can directly print Acrobat and Office files from any of these devices.
Inside, the printer has a 1.2GHz processor along with 256MB of RAM and 256MB of flash storage. It puts 600 by 600 dots per inch documents, charts and images onto paper, although the output can be enhanced to the equivalent of 38,400 by 600 dots per inch. It’s about as secure as a printer gets these days with the ability to only start up using its unaltered firmware, reducing the chances of a backdoor attack on the school’s network.
Inside, the M452dw uses HP’s latest low-temperature toner that’s housed in cartridges that also contain the printer’s photo drum. In a move that I hope others follow, changing the printer’s toner cartridges is a non-muss affair that takes less than a minute. You don’t even have to pull a tab: just open the box, remove the module from the plastic case and put it into the printer’s tray. After closing the tray, the cartridge sets itself up; the printer is ready within a minute.
To save paper, the M452dw has duplexing built in, although the non-duplex equipped M452nw version lowers the price to $200, but instead of the color touch-screen, there’s a two-line monochrome display. Rated to print 28 pages of single side documents per minute (ppm), the M452dw was able to deliver its first page in 10 seconds and produce large documents at 24.6ppm. Printing on both sides of a sheet slows this to 23.7 ppm.
Still, the M452dw has a very efficient paper path. It doesn’t wait for the first page to be finished before starting on the next one. In fact, watching the duplexing pages emerge and drop back into the printer is a hypnotic treat.
The printer uses 500-watts of power when it’s printing, but won’t dim the lights as is the case with some of its competitors. Still, it consumes more power than the inkjet-based HP Officejet Enterprise Color MFP X585. Its power use drops to 2.4-watts in sleep mode.
After more than 5,000 pages printed – from worksheets, maps and quizzes to reports and Web pages – the M4452dw worked with a wide variety of papers including inexpensive copier stock, envelopes and cards. It jammed a few times, but this was mostly due to the corner of a page being bent or curled. Its output is second to none with razor sharp type, excellent color balance and only a slight shininess to its surface.
The M452dw comes with a set of introductory cartridges that are capable of producing 1,200 sheets each. In other words, you’ll need to get replacements soon. While the basic cyan, magenta and yellow can print 2,300 pages and cost $110, the black one is $85. There are also high-yield color modules produce 5,000 pages and cost $190, but the black one can print 6,500 pages and costs $142.
All told, it cost an average of 13.4 cents per page to deliver a variety of full color documents and monochrome documents, including image prints, worksheets and reports in a mix of high quality and EconoMode settings. Monochrome prints cut that to a little over 3 cents per page, making it one of the cheapest printers to use.
At any time, you can check on the status of its supplies through its IP address or by printing one of its preset internal reports through its touch screen. There are also pages for seeing how many pages have been created, the network status as well as the devices current settings.
With a one-year warranty, the M452dw costs $300, hundreds less than comparable printers and roughly what you’d spend on a classroom-ready inkjet printer. It shows the power of the printed word and is the best way to put high-quality documents in the hands of students and teachers.
+ Large toner cartridges with no mess changes
+ Print from USB, LAN, NFC or thumb drive
- No finisher