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Hands-on Gear Review

HP LaserJet Pro M252dw Review

Top Pick Award
Price:   $300 List | $170.00 at Amazon
Pros:  Great text and graphics quality, great interface
Cons:  Relatively slow for a laser
Bottom line:  A great model if you want high end performance and don't need a built-in scanner
Editors' Rating:     
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Manufacturer:   HP

Our Verdict

The HP LaserJet Pro M252dw is essentially the same printer as the Editors' Choice Award winning HP LaserJet Pro MFP M277dw but without the scanning, copying, and faxing capabilities. This specialized, pared down machine produced some of the best text in our testing, excelled at printing graphics, and was able to do both at a decent rate of speed. The M252dw's overall great performance in our testing earned it our Best Single Function Printer award. This is a great machine for anyone in search of a printer for high quality, high volume printing, but doesn't need the versatility of an all-in-one. If you don't need to print in color and don't mind having to use a wired connection you can save a little money and get similar performance from the HP LaserJet Pro M402n.


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Our Analysis and Hands-on Test Results

Review by:
Max Mutter


Last Updated:
Tuesday
February 28, 2017

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Performance Comparison


This chart compares the HP LaserJet Pro M252dw's overall performance in our test, to that of the other printers we tested.


Read on to find out how the M252dw did in all of our individual tests.

Text Quality


The M252dw produced great text in our testing and shared the top score of 9 out of 10 in this metric with its multifunction sibling. This was far better than the worst scoring model, which earned a 3.


The M252dw's text is near perfect. The character it produced in our testing looked bold and had smooth, clean borders. Even under the intense scrutiny of our microscope we could only see minor imperfections and light spots. Occasionally when printing italics at a fonts smaller than 10 point we did notice some areas that looked just slightly pale, which is the only thing that kept the M252dw from earning a perfect score in this metric. However, it's such a minor flaw that we feel completely confident in saying that anyone who buys the M252dw will be more than happy with its text quality.

The M252dw's produced some of the best text in our testing.
The M252dw's produced some of the best text in our testing.

Operating Cost


The M252dw was on the lower end in terms of both monochrome printing costs, but fairly expensive for color and earned a 5 out of 10 in our operating cost metric. This put it towards the middle of the field in a metric where scores ranged from 2 to 7.


The M252dw prints black and white at just $0.03 a page or $14.46 a ream, but prints color at a quite expensive $0.11 per page or $56.09 per ream. It estimated lifetime cost is $642, which is about $70 above the average of the models we tested. This certainly isn't a budget model, but considering the high performance you get these costs are fairly reasonable.

Ease of Use


The M252dw again shared the top score in this metric with the MFP M277dw, both models earning a 9 out of 10. This was high praise in a metric where scores fell as low as 4.


The major reason for this high score was the M252dw's touchscreen control panel. This allows for easy navigation of printing functions and simple entry of things like wifi passwords, and offers a useful platform from which to troubleshoot when the need arises. It also grants full and easy access to HP's bevy of online printing apps, which facilitate things like printing stamps from a stamps.com account, printing grocery or check lists, and printing pages of tic-tac-toe games. Setup was a breeze, we had the printer churning out pages within 10 minutes of opening up the box. It was also straightforward to link the HP ePrint and and print directly from a mobile device. To top it all off a USB port on the top of the printer lets you quickly print directly from a flash drive.

The M252dw's touchscreen interface was one of our favorites.
The M252dw's touchscreen interface was one of our favorites.

Graphics/Photos


The M252dw earned a 6 out of 10 in our photos and graphic quality testing. This is quite a respectable score for a laser in a metric where scores ranged from 2 to 7.


Simple graphics, like line graphs and bar charts, looked phenomenal when printed on the M252dw. Colors were bright and lines and bars had crisp edges. It only lost points for its photo printing ability. The M252dw's laser technology noticeably struggled in this area, producing pixelated images. This is a great machine for graph heavy business documents, but not ideal for photo laden family letters. If you want a general home/office printer that can also produce decent photos, you'll have to get an inkjet, like the HP Officejet Pro 8720.

 

Printing Speed


The M252dw's speed garnered a score of 5 out of 10 in our printing speed testing. This put it just below average as scores in this metric ranged from 3 to 9.


When printing text documents single sided the M252dw was able to spit out 11 pages per minute. This is a decent speed, but was no match for the fastest model in our test, which clocked a pace of 25 pages per minute. It slowed down a bit to 8 pages per minute when printing duplex. It was lightning fast in printing a full page image, but said image was a bit too pixelated to really be worth much of anything. Overall this speed will be plenty for most users, but if you tend to print long documents just minutes before a deadline you might want to consider the much faster HP M402n.

Value


With a list price of $300 the M252dw is priced slightly above average for a single function printer. However, like most printers, you can find it online for much less than its list price. At the time of this writing we've seen it priced as low as $200. Due to its high performance we feel the M252dw is a decent value at its list price, and a great deal if you can find it for less. If you don't think you'll use the color printing capabilities and don't mind using a wired connection, then the HP M402n would be a slightly better value.

Conclusion


The M252dw is a high performing, single function printer. Its perfect for those that want a high quality printing option and already have or don't need a scanner.
Max Mutter and Steven Tata

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