The HP Officejet Pro K5400dtn Color Printer is optimized for business, taking top honors on speed for everything but photos.
Back when monochrome laser prices were well into four figures, a lot of people called the ink jetthen a fledgling technologythe poor mans laser. I havent heard that description in a long timenot since ink jets shoved dot matrix printers into a nearly forgotten niche. But with ink jets like the HP Officejet Pro K5400dtn Color Printer ($249.99 direct), it may be time to take the phrase out of retirement.
The K5400dtn is part of the K5400 series, which is built around the base model K5400 ($149.99). The other models are the K5400tn ($199.99) and the K5400dtn that I tested. The "tn" model adds a network connector and a 350-sheet input tray to the 250-sheet tray in the base model; the "dtn" model also adds duplexing to print on both sides of the page. Since all the models are basically the same printer with different options added, all of our quality and performance results apply to all three models.
My overwhelming conclusion from our tests is that the series can stand toe to toe with color lasers in the sub-$500 range. The K5400dtns speed is well into laser territory. Its output quality is comparable with that of lasers. The paper capacity for the two models is higher than for most sub-$500 lasers. At 1.5 cents for a black-and-white page and 6.0 cents for a color page, the claimed cost per page is extraordinarily low for an ink jet or inexpensive laser. All of this makes the K5400 series the . . . ahem . . . poor mans color laser, and a good choice for a small office or busy home office.
Setup is straightforward, but a little more involved than with most ink jets. The K5400dtn comes with the second tray, a duplexer unit, four ink cartridges (with cyan, yellow, magenta, and black inks) and two print heads. Each print head handles two ink colors and is designed to last for the life of the printer. The size and weight, including the duplexer and tray, are 11.7 by 19.5 by 19.1 inches (HWD) and 26.5 pounds.
To set up the K5400dtn you first remove the packing materials, snap the duplexer into the back of the printer, set the 350-sheet second tray in place, and stack the printer on top of the tray. You then open a door in the front of the printer to install the ink cartridges, and open the top to install the print heads. Then you plug in a network cable and power cord, load paper, let the printer run through its alignment routine, and, finally, run the automated installation program.
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M. David Stone is an award-winning freelance writer and computer industry consultant with special areas of expertise in imaging technologies (including printers, monitors, large-screen displays, projectors, scanners, and digital cameras), storage (both magnetic and optical), and word processing. His 25 years of experience in writing about science and technology includes a nearly 20-year concentration on PC hardware and software. He also has a proven track record of making technical issues easy for non-technical readers to understand, while holding the interest of more knowledgeable readers. Writing credits include eight computer-related books, major contributions to four others, and more than 2,000 articles in national and worldwide computer and general interest publications. His two most recent books are The Underground Guide to Color Printers (Addison-Wesley, 1996) and Troubleshooting Your PC, (Microsoft Press, 2000, with co-author Alfred Poor).
Much of David's current writing is for PC Magazine, where he has been a frequent contributor since 1983 and a contributing editor since 1987. His work includes feature articles, special projects, reviews, and both hardware and software solutions for PC Magazine's Solutions columns. He also contributes to other magazines, including Wired. As Computers Editor at Science Digest from 1984 until the magazine stopped publication, he wrote both a monthly column and additional articles. His newspaper column on computers appeared in the Newark Star Ledger from 1995 through 1997.
Non-computer-related work includes the Project Data Book for NASA's Upper Atmosphere Research Satellite (written for GE's Astro-Space Division), and magazine articles and AV productions on subjects ranging from cosmology to ape language experiments. David also develops and writes testing scripts for leading computer magazines, including PC Magazine's PC Labs. His scripts have covered a wide range of subjects, including computers, scanners, printers, modems, word processors, fax modems, and communications software. He lives just outside of New York City, and considers himself a New Yorker at heart.