One of the best things the HP LaserJet Pro 400 series has going for it is its heavy-duty monthly printing cycle, which will keep busy printers from worrying too much about running into snags. For a big printer, it's got an unimpressive 250-sheet paper tray (there's a fold-out 50-sheet multi-purpose tray built into the front as well)--sure, you can buy another tray that will double that capacity, but you're talking about adding another $140 to the already steep price of entry. Similarly, wireless isn't built into all the models, so if that's a requirement for you, pay attention to which model you pick up (the M451nw and the M451dw include wireless, hence the "w" in their name). Wired networking
is built into all the models. Again, when you're in the >$500 price range, it seems that wireless should be expected. In any case, once you've chosen your model, it's likely that you won't be dissatisfied with the printer's performance. Print speeds are very good, though occasionally there were some mysterious pauses between pages, and quality on color graphics and black texts was overall very good. If the printer is next to your desk, you might grow weary of the somewhat noisy rollers, however.
HP claims first-page-out speeds as fast as 17 seconds, and total printing of up to 21 pages per minute. I didn't achieve quite those speeds, but came pretty close. A 21-page Word document took 1:28 to print, with the first page out in 21 seconds. Pages were rapid after that first one, taking about three seconds per page. That's excellent all around and as it should be. The only issue I ran into in terms of speed was that sometimes the printer would stop, as if the job were finished, and then after 10 or 15 seconds would resume the job. I'm not sure why there was a lag, particularly for a text document printed via a USB connection rather than a wireless connection
(I've seen lags like that when printing wirelessly, especially if the document is very large--not the case here).
There were no serious issues with the quality of prints from the HP LaserJet Pro 400. Texts looked excellent and clear, as they always should with a laser printer. Color graphics were rendered nicely, though I noticed that yellows had a slight greenish tinge to them. Otherwise they looked very good. I liked that pages didn't warp or curl when they came out still warm--that's a problem I often see with laser printers
(particularly when combined with low-end paper) that I didn't see here.
Bells and Whistles
As noted above, the bells and whistles you get depend on which model of the Pro 400 you get. If networking a printer is not right for you and you prefer to have everyone connect to it via a wireless connection, spend the extra money for the models that include wireless. Duplex printing is similarly available only on some of the models; that's less of a deal-breaker for me, since manual duplex printing is a bit of a pain but not too painful if you don't use that feature a lot. And you may well want to splurge for that extra paper tray, since that will cut your refilling trips in half. I noticed that the paper tray had a tendency to quickly slide all the way out every time I tried to add paper, meaning I had to grab it before it hit the ground.
There's a tiny LCD screen that's not particularly useful or easy to see; however, since this is a single-function printer (not an all-in-one), there's not much to see anyway. Otherwise, the bells and whistles included are HP's Web services such as ePrint, which provides a unique e-mail address to your printer so that you can send it print jobs (including .pdf, .jpg, and Office documents) from anywhere.
Disclosure: Review samples were provided by the manufacturer. For more information, please see our Ethics Policy