Epson, multi-functions, & a look at HP Laserjet Pro 200

Reviewing the HP Laserjet Pro 200: Intro

First a word on my old Epson.

My previous printer, an Epson R220, whilst capable of producing great printouts, was notoriously work-shy. Fickle actually. Prima Dona comes to mind. Give it a gourmet diet (of Epson’s own) and it purrs, but dare you to offer it ink that isn’t their own label and incidentally costs more, weight for weight, than solid gold and the problems start.

– Ink not recognised, ink empty when it’s a new cartridge, general cussedness.

The trick is to uninstall the drivers, remove the device and add it again and, lo and behold, you have full ink, no blinking red lights. Do miracles never cease? At least until you turn it off and off again… I lost count of the number of times I’ve felt like pitching it through a window!

But, you get used to it and that makes you complacent. So I bought a load of ink. Boxes and boxes of the stuff. And it died!

“Paper jammed.” No it’s NOT.
“Ink’s empty” Which one? you ask, hopefully, "None, all, I dunno".

Needless to say, that entire range is now obsolete, so it’s gone out the door for recycling and I’ve got a tonne of ink to give away. Sodding thing. Not trusted Epson since, except for their scanners.

On multi-function devices

I had previously decided to replace it with a ‘Kodak Hero’ as they got good reviews, but seeing as they went bust and no longer make printers, off to a bad start. I did look on-line and in a few stores for new alternatives. Fun.

"Can I help you, Sir?"
"Actually, yes. I’d like a good printer. What do you recommend?"
"With a fax?"
"Why the heck would I want a fax, they went out of style and use in the ’90s. eMail killed it."
"A copier? A scanner?"
"I had this **** in the coffee shop, I just want ‘a printer’."

I didn’t really have that conversation, other than in my head, but I thought it loudly and repeatedly.

This, it should be noted, was within a well-known chain that once tried to blag me that the £4.99 price for a mouse mat (which I knew cost a few pence at trade price) was justified because it included a one year warranty. A mouse mat!

Why on Earth does virtually every printer on the market seem to be a multi-function, all-in-one, copier, fax, scanner, wireless, ethernet, piece of junk?

How can they build all that into a £49 colour printer?

My current scanner, an Epson 700 printer cost me over £350 at the time, I think, and they haven’t updated the model since because it’s that good. In fact, in the years since I bought it, they added another £100 to the price and pushed its posh brother, the 750, up to about £650. And you want to tell me a fifty quid scanner – with everything from a fax to a colour printer bolted on is going to be good value?
Pttt! I am not so sure

I understand the budget market, and the space-conscious sector, the “I’ll rarely use it but nice to have at this price” customers. Value for money and all that. (Though I’d argue it’s false economy). However, it’s not just the low-end of the market, and that’s what gets me. It’s large A3 office inkets, massive footprint industrial laser printers and everything in between. The mind boggles.

I just want a printer, thanks!

Anyway, lurking behind all this planned junk in the computer superstore were two ‘real’ printers, a Samsung CLP-415N colour laser (or CLP-415NW if you need wireless too) and the HP I settled on, Laserjet 200 color M251n. Wasn’t a lot to choose between the two models, either in reviews and general respect for the manufacturer and the HP appears a tad cheaper on toner, so that won it. Heavy, chunky beggar to lug back, but it fits fine on a pedestal drawer where the Epson previously squatted, so I was happy. And both were a mere £149. You can pay more than that for a set of Epson ink!

HP Laserjet Pro 200 M251n boxed

{ HP Laserjet Pro 200 M251n boxed }

So, how was installing it?

Ran the cables, plugged it in and turned it on. Eventually.

First I stared hard at the installation guide until it filtered into my caffeine-deprived brain that nearly all the set-up images were for the M251nw and I neither wanted nor greatly needed the wireless option (as I was networking via Cat6 ethernet). Apart from the pop up screen they are basically the same, but it threw me anyway. So, as I was saying, turn it on, run through the setup – pulling the tabs off the toner cartridges, a few confirms for things like country and network options, initialisation and of it goes, getting the IP address.


{ HP Laserjet Pro 200 M251n toner cartridges }

That sorted, put in the installation CD and off you go. A little slow for my liking, but it checked for updates first, installed and ran off a test print. Couldn’t be happier…

Apart from the fact the install wanted permissions for proxy server and hung when I didn’t comply. Nothing task manager couldn’t kill and it’s been fine since. That said, installing it may have corrupted the (now obsolete) ‘gadget bar’, so I’ve disabled it. It is thought to be a security risk, but I happened to like having the clock and CPU monitor, so I’ve got a bit irked in that respect.

Meanwhile, on my wife’s computer, Window 7 fell over when she rebooted. In all fairness I cannot say if the cause was Epson’s after summarily dispatching it’s software and devices, or the HP updater or something completely unrelated. All I do know is it rolled back the system to before I removed the Epson R220 – and took out the internet security on that machine. Fixed that first, killed the Epson again and simply told it to look for the printer. So much easier. Found it on the network, went on-line for the drivers.

Ready to print. The Paper tray is smaller and flimsier than I’d like or am used to but it’s colour and a tenth the price of the chunkier old mono HP4 I had back in the day.


{ HP Laserjet Pro 200 M251n paper tray }


{ HP Laserjet Pro 200 M251n test page }

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