Pros: Clean, black text and smooth greyscales; Easy to maintain; Single-piece cartridge; Small footprint when closed up; Easy setup; Well-designed driver.
Cons: No cover for paper in input tray.
Bottomline: The Laserjet P1006 provides all you can expect from an £80 personal laser.
Laser printers are getting smaller, and HP claims that this is the smallest model it’s ever produced.
This may be true, but only when it's closed up. The Laserjet P1006 is roughly the size of a large loaf of bread but when you fold down the 150-sheet input tray from the front, and the output tray from the top, it increases the printer's desk space by about half. There’s no cover on the tray, so you’ll want to keep paper in a drawer to avoid dust and spills when it's not in use.
This is a simple printer to set up and use. It has a single-piece combined drum unit and toner cartridge (many laser printers use individual units, which need replacing separately), which slots down deep into the base of the machine, once you've hinged the top cover up.
The control panel comprises two indicators and a single, job-cancel button – a single USB socket at the rear is the only connection to the outside world. This socket is positioned quite high up the rear panel of the printer, so the cable can be awkward to hide. There's no setup guide with the LaserJet P1006, as it’s provided on the supplied CD instead.
As long as you can run the CD on a PC, you benefit from the animated setup instructions, which do a good job of making the whole process straightforward. There's no software other than the driver, but this handles multiple pages per sheet, watermarks and manual double-sided printing, which is a good set of features for a laser printer at this price.
Under test, the printer managed 12.5 pages per minute printing text and six 10x15cm photos per minute, so for family use, print speed will not be a problem. The quality of text and photos is noticeably better than from some other entry-level lasers (as a cheap laser printer it is, of course, black and white only). There's little banding on greyscale images and text is crisp and dense.
Print costs are just over 3p for a standard page, putting it in the middle of the field compared with competitors. Overall, this is a well-made personal laser printer, at a very attractive price.