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Hands-on Gear Review

HP Color LaserJet Pro MFP M277dw Review

Editors' Choice Award
Price:   $430 List
Pros:  Great text and graphics quality, great interface
Cons:  Can be expensive, relatively slow for a laser
Bottom line:  Great balance of functionality and quality for any home office
Editors' Rating:     
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Manufacturer:   HP

Our Verdict

The M277dw packs a color laser printer, scanner, copier, and fax machine all into one unit, yet remains fairly simple and easy to use. Pair that with a large, user friendly touchscreen display, best in class text quality, and color printing capabilities that can churn out eye catching graphics, and it's easy to see why the M277dw was our Editors' Choice Award winner. It is a somewhat expensive unit, and its printing costs are not the most economical, but if you don't mind paying a little extra for quality the M277dw will not disappoint. If you want all the performance but don't need a scanner, the LaserJet Pro M252dw is essentially the same printer in a single function package.


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Score Product Price Our Take
71
$430
Editors' Choice Award
Great balance of functionality and quality for any home office
70
$300
Top Pick Award
A great model if you want high end performance and don't need a built-in scanner
67
$350
Fully featured all-in-one, but is slow and lacks duplex printing
64
$270
Top Pick Award
Perfect if you print a lot of text and don't need wireless connectivity
62
$400
Great long term investment if you see high printing volumes in your future
57
$300
Fairly economical choice if you need an all-in-one and print in high volumes
57
$300
Great value if you frequently print in color and need an all-in-one
55
$120
Best Buy Award
Good performance, inexpensive operating costs, and a low list price
49
$180
Inexpensive, but high ink costs quickly make it uneconomical
48
$150
Best Buy Award
A great choice for someone who prints occasionally but wants a versatile machine for when the need arises
46
$170
Very fast considering its price, but few other advantages
45
$100
Tempting low list price, but high ink prices/inefficient ink use negate any savings

Our Analysis and Hands-on Test Results

Review by:
Max Mutter


Last Updated:
Tuesday
October 25, 2016

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Criteria for Evaluation


This chart shows how the HP Color LaserJet Pro MFP M277dw's overall performance in our testing compares to the performances of the other printers we tested.


Below we further discuss the M277dw's performance in each of our individual tests.

Text Quality


The M277dw shared the top step of the podium with three other printers in our text quality contest, scoring a 9. This put it in a whole other league than the worst scorer, which received a 2.


Text produced by the M277dw during our testing was incredibly crisp with no noticeable pixelation and clean, smooth borders. It retained this quality no matter the font or italicization. The only weak point that prevented the M277dw from getting a perfect text quality score was that it tended to print just a bit light at font sizes below 10 point. This was apparent under our microscope but only somewhat noticeable by the naked eye, so it is a very minor issue. So you can rest assured that any reports, resumes, or other important documents produced by the M277dw are going to look high quality and professional.

The MFP M277dw produced some of the best text out of all the models we tested.
The MFP M277dw produced some of the best text out of all the models we tested.

Operating Cost


Cost is the only real downside of the M277dw. It scored a 5 in this metric, somewhat better than the low score of 2, but still relatively far from the top score of 7.


It printed in black and white at a fairly reasonable rate, about $0.03 per page or $14.11 per ream of paper. However, its color printing costs were the highest of any model we tested, clocking in at about $0.11 per page or $56.09 per ream. These color printing costs, combined with a fairly high retail price, gave the M277dw an estimated lifetime cost of $645. This was the second highest lifetime cost that we calculated, and was more than double the estimated lifetime cost of the Canon imageCLASS LBP151dw.

Ease of Use


The M277dw shared the top score of 9 out of 10 with its single function sibling in this metric, which saw scores as low as 4.


Setup involved plugging in the printer and being walked through a quick installation menu. The included starter ink cartridges were already in place, so we were printing within minutes of opening up the box. After downloading the HP ePrint app we were printing directly from our phones just a couple of minutes later. In fact, some visitors to the office were printing plane tickets on the M277dw directly from their phones the day we received it. Also, if you're printing via a wifi connection you don't even need to plug in the printer to do the initial setup. Our testers' favorite aspect of the M277dw was its large touchscreen control panel. This interface made it easy to navigate through the myriad of functions, which include printing, scanning to various destinations, copying, and faxing. A USB port on the front of the printer lets you plug in a flash drive and either print documents directly from it or save scanned documents to it, and a convenient bypass tray makes it easy to print on non-standard paper stock like envelopes. We found that all of the added features worked well and produced good results. Copies and scans were of a high resolution and the automatic document feeder operated smoothly and never clogged.

Our testers appreciated the intuitiveness of the M277dw's touchscreen controls.
Our testers appreciated the intuitiveness of the M277dw's touchscreen controls.

HP also provides a number of web applications that can be utilized by most of its multifunction printers. We found the touchscreen on the M277dw really allowed us to access the full functionality of these apps. The genres of these apps range from productivity (printing directly from your google drive account, or printing postage stamps at home via a stamps.com account) to lifestyle (printing the daily recipe from allrecipes.com, or printing a menu for the week complete with a checklist style shopping list) to whimsical (printing a template on which to play the dot game).

Graphics/Photos


The M277dw received a 6 in our graphics and photos printing test. This is just slightly behind the two top scorers, both of which received a 7, and well ahead of the bottom score of 2.


For printing simple graphics, such as line charts and bar graphs, it was one of the best models we tested. Lines and bars had bright vivid colors and looked bold and solid. Even under our microscope we were only able to notice trace amounts of pixelation in these types of graphics. It did lose some points in this category for photo quality. In high resolution photos colors looked a bit oversaturated and dark areas looked muddled and lacked clarity. Pixelation was much more apparent in photos than in simple graphics, particularly in light areas of images. While the photos weren't great, they would certainly pass muster for the occasional image printed in a report or newsletter.

The MFP M277dw created stellar graphics in our testing  but was mediocre when it came to photo quality.
The MFP M277dw created stellar graphics in our testing, but was mediocre when it came to photo quality.

Printing Speed


The M277dw was relatively quick in our testing. It scored a 6 on our print speed test, putting it towards the top of a metric that had scores ranging between 2 and 9.


In our hallmark single sided text document test it clocked a print speed of 14 pages per minute. This was significantly slower than the HP LaserJet Pro M402n, which led the field at 25 pages per minute, but is still fast enough that you'll have to print a sizable document before it feels like the M277dw is taking a long time to finish printing. Speeds were comparable when printing a mixed text and graphics document. When printing double sided its speed was only slightly reduced, dropping to 9 pages per minute. It was one of the fastest models for printing photos. It printed a full page, high resolution photo in just 24 seconds.

Value


The M277dw is a situation where you get what you pay for. With a list price of $430 the M277dw is the most expensive printer we tested. It is common for printers to be available from online retailers for much less than the manufacturer's standard retail price. At the time of this writing the M277dw could be found online for over $100 less than the list price, which is still a pretty hefty price tag. This price, along with expensive color toner, also gave the M277dw one of the highest estimated lifetime costs that we calculated. However, the M277dw was also far and away the best performer that we tested. While we can't say the M277dw is an amazing value, you are getting a top notch performer at a correspondingly top end price.

Conclusion


The M277dw combines all the printing, faxing, copying, and scanning that you could hope for in a multifunction printer, and does so with aplomb. There isn't really a task that the M277dw does not excel in, except for being easy on the wallet. If your printing and office needs are diverse and you don't mind paying for performance, you will not be disappointed with the M277dw.

Max Mutter and Steven Tata

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