Updated: May 23, 2015

Color Laser Printer Reviews:

flash drives Laser printers brought the home and office into the world of dektop publishing, with crisp, precise printouts of both text and graphics. The one letdown though has always been the black and white issue - laser printers could only print black, white, and grayscale - no color. For offices, this meant still having to use specialized printers for color overhead slides and handouts, and going to special print shops for brochures, reports, etc. that required color images, text, or graphics. The inkjet arose as the at-home solution to color printing, delivering near-photo quality prints, although leaving much to be desired when printing text, leaving you with less crisp and very smudgeable pages. And color photo prints require special paper (expensive) and use lots of color ink (also expensive for refills).

With the advent and improvement of color laser printers over the last few years, there is finally an alternative. Now, for $500 or so and higher, you can put a color laser printer on your home or office desk. Higher-end models can cost upwards of $2000, although those are aimed at heavy office use environments printing 10s of thousands of copies per month. In general, color toner replacement cartridges can be expensive - in the case of the low-end color laser printers, costing almost as much as the printer itself. We found reviews for color laser printers on sites like CNET, About.com, PCworld.com, and in electronics/computer magazines. The one finding that seemed to pop out the most was that HP color laser printers received great comments for their high end laser printers, but their budget models did not score well with experts or consumers. We could not find a specific reason for this, but perhaps they don't put as much quality into the cheaper models. Consumer Reports, the old unbiased standby did some recent color printer reviews and they based their findings on quality, time, speed, and cost. Color printers are not cheap to run as a single printout starts at about $.15 with $.20 per page being more reasonable. If you want to buy a color laser printer, we suggest you start by browsing the most popular selections online here.

Best Color Laser Printer

RECOMMENDED - The HP color laser printers are consistently rated near the top of any reviews you read on office/professional printer use. The HP 5500 Color LaserJet Printer and the HP Color LaserJet 5550DN are worth considering. These are office printers, capable of printing more than 100,000 pages per month without batting an eye. It is larger, weighing about 200 pounds - not something you want to try carrying all around the office. With 600 x 600 dpi resolution, 400 MHz processor, and 96 MB RAM, the HP 5500 is a workhorse. It will print out roughly 21 pages per minute (ppm) in monochrome and color. There is an optional input capacity of 1600 sheets. The network options include 3 open EIO slots. HP printers can be placed anywhere in offices that are networked with HP Jetdirect wired and wireless print servers so everyone can get access to the wide format color printing capabilities. The big expense is refilling the color cartridge which runs about $230 per color. RECOMMENDED - For small businesses and even home use, we think the HP Color LaserJet 3550 Printer is a great value at less than $300. You can see the entire selection of HP color laser printers here.

Multifunction Color Laser Printer

Dell doesn't just make computers anymore - they have branched out into all sorts of things like televisions and color laser printers. Multifunction printers are also called "all in one" printers since they tend to do everything you need in one single unit. They print, scan, fax, and function as a copier. The Dell Multifunction Color Laser Printer 3115cn is a leading candidate in this field. PCWorld rated the Dell 3115cn quite high on their list of best multifunction color laser printers and features include color scanning, color copier, print speeds of 31 ppm (black and white) and 17 ppm color. Has a duty cycle of 60,000 pages per months for the high volume print jobs. There is an automatic document feeder (ADF) for unattended copying and scanning. Check out all the multifunction printers here.

Budget Laser Printer:

RECOMMENDED - Samsung has recently come up with a few top notch printers and their Samsung CLP-300N Network-ready Color Laser Printer is a great choice for just under $400. The first page will print out in less than 14 seconds and the NO NOIS print engine makes for quick and efficient toner changes and it runs quiet. Print speed is ample at 17 ppm for black and white and up to 14 ppm for color. The print resolution is up to 2400 x 600 dpi and the printer from Samsung has 32 MB of memory. At the low end of the color laser printer spectrum is the HP Color LaserJet 3600n Printer and the Konica Minolta magicolor 2430DL, coming in at $200 and $499 list respectively. The HP is designed for home use - not a 10,000 page per day office. It comes with a network card (more expensive printers have the network interface built into the printer) and weighs in at just over 40 lbs - not quite like that 4 lb inkjet printer you might have lying around. It comes with preinstalled color toner cartridges (4), although the starter cartridges do not contain as much toner as the replacements you will be forced to buy later - they are really "starters". Of course the printed output is what counts when evaluating printers. The HP not surprisingly spits out perfect text, while graphics and photos are good for this price range and not far behind some of the more expensive printers - however they WILL NOT compare to inkjet prints on photo paper. The Konica 2430 DL comes with a four pass engine and can spit out almost 20 pages per minute. It comes with PictBridge support allowing you to print images directly from a digital camera, a nice feature but one that seldom comes up in real life. However, its print quality on both text and photos is excellent, making it a good value for the price.