This printer is fast. Power On/Sleep Mode to first page out is less than 13 seconds. Plus, you get true 1200 dpi resolution at full speed.
Recommend this product?
So why didn't I give it 5 stars, you ask? Nothing to do with the printer itself. The 4050TN lost a star because of clunky documentation, and because HP advertises that it comes with an infrared (IR) receiver, but in actuality you have to send away for it. You may find those nitpicky points, but for a business printer at this price, it should be perfect.
The documentation comes on a CD, and is in Adobe PDF format, not Windows or Mac Help format. I assume HP did this for cross-platform ease of use, but stumbling around through a PDF file looking for something is a pain. Also, even though I use the 4050TN in a home office, HP primarily positions this printer as a business printer, and as such should not be documented to the lowest common denominator--for example, a home user with no experience. And to have to put in the CD every time you want to know something is an irritant. Though I know more manufacturers are putting documentation on disk these days, a manual would have been nice. The printer does come with a Quick Reference, but it is little more than a pamphlet.
The other reason I took away a star is the afore-mentioned IR receiver, which plugs into the back of the printer, and through which you can beam documents. You have to mail or fax a form to HP to receive the IR receiver, and it does come quickly, but it should have been in the box as advertised.
Now, these two points aside, I cannot recommend the printer itself highly enough. I use it on a small network, and the included HP JetDirect card merged seamlessly with my network. The printer is connected to the network via a Linksys Etherfast Cable/DSL router, which functions as a DHCP server; the router assigns an IP address to the printer, and the 4050TN happily accepts it. This is amazing to me, first, to be able to print over IP, and second, to not have to manually set an IP address for the printer. I also have it hooked up to my main computer via a standard parallel cable, and it actually prints faster over the network than via parallel.
Before this I had an HP Laserjet 4, and before that a Laserjet 3. I used the Laserjet 4 for seven years before selling it and buying the 4050TN. While I will probably never come close to the 4050TN's maximum monthly duty cycle of 65,000 pages, what I will appreciate is its blazing speed and superb paper handling.
I debated before the purchase whether to buy the TN or the N model; the difference is the N has a single 500-sheet paper tray, to the TN's two 250-sheet trays. I opted for the TN, and have letter paper in one tray, and legal in the other. The printer knows which is which, and chooses accordingly. The drop-down tray (which the printer designates as Tray 1), can be loaded with paper or envelopes, and so far I haven't seen a jam. A cover on the back of the printer can be opened if you are printing on stock that requires a straight-through paper path (such as heavy card stock or labels).
The 4050TN has a bright 2-line LCD display that lets you know what the printer is doing, two buttons, and four rocker switches for menu selections or various printer functions. I've appreciated the flexibility and versatility of the printer driver, which lets you adjust just about every aspect of printer operation.
So does the printer's spectacular performance justify its price? For many people, that answer will be yes. If you're on a budget, or if you will only be printing the occasional home print job or low-volume office work, and speed isn't an issue, you may opt for one of the lower model HP lasers, or even an inkjet. But if the extra $500-600 isn't an issue, or you simply must have a fast printer, this is the one to get.
And if you purchase before October 31, 2000, HP is offering a $200 rebate on this model, which is a substantial percentage of the purchase price. Couple the rebate with a truly superb printer, and you can't go wrong with the 4050TN.
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