HP Neverstop Laser 1202nw review: A great small office choice
Good value out of the box, and it only gets better the more you print
Buy a cheap mono laser device and you’re usually saddled with expensive supplies that can make it poor value over the long term. HP is one of several manufacturers beginning to offer an alternative. The Neverstop 1202nw is a simple mono laser MFP that arrives with 5,000 pages’ worth of toner. When that’s exhausted, cheap supplies help to keep ongoing costs down.
Low running costs to one side, the 1202nw is basic for the price. A small, plain MFP, it’s controlled by a few buttons paired with a basic mono display. On top, there’s a scanner without an ADF. In the base, there’s only a 150-sheet paper tray, but at least this is properly enclosed by a dust cover. There’s support for wired and wireless networking, but not for fax or automatic duplex printing.
As there’s no display, you can’t configure advanced cloud functions or manually join the MFP to a wireless network. HP doesn’t supply a driver disc, but while its website encourages you to install the HP Smart app, you can instead choose the Easy Start installer and get the full driver package. You can use a USB cable to configure the device for a wireless network, after which subsequent installs will detect it automatically.
While the inoffensive design is fairly basic, there’s an interesting cover to the right of the 100-sheet paper output tray. Swivelling this out of the way reveals the hopper into which you pour replacement toner. The printer arrives pre-filled, but HP’s instructional video reveals what looks like a fool-proof – and spill-proof – system. To make room, the entire scanner bed tilts up by about 80˚.
Toner comes in 2,500 or 5,000-page kits. Every 20,000 pages or so you’ll also need a new drum, which comes with 5,000 pages of toner. Even including this, ongoing print costs work out at just 0.75p per page, which is about as cheap as laser printing gets. Neverstop looks like a great system. Our one reservation is that replacement toner bottles appear to contain as much plastic as a conventional toner cartridge – it’s a shame that HP didn’t find a way to reduce the packaging further.
The Neverstop 1202nw performs much as we’d expect from an entry-level device. On black text, the printer is true to HP’s 21ppm speed claim, reaching 18.3ppm on our test, which includes spool times. It was slower to print complex graphics, reaching just 12.3ppm over 24 pages. Photo prints were slightly slower than we expected. It needed 41 seconds to complete two 10 x 8in prints, and 53 seconds to print six 6 x 4in photos onto three A4 pages. Unusually for an HP, this printer took longer to print a first page from cold (17 seconds) than when warm (11 seconds).
The 1202nw needed only 12 seconds to produce a copy, but its scan times were on the slow side. At resolutions below 600dpi, HP’s TWAIN interface doesn’t need to re-scan after creating a preview image, which takes 20 seconds. At 600dpi – the maximum resolution – it has to go back and capture the image in more detail, which took a further 41 seconds for our 600dpi photo test. The scanner’s plate is completely flush on two sides, so it’s easy to retrieve originals after scanning or copying them.
Happily, there’s little to criticise in the quality of the results. Scans had accurate colours and were reasonably sharp. Their exposure was well judged on most of our tests, although our target image revealed a loss of detail among the four darkest shades. This problem was echoed in copies, in which dark details were lost even at the lightest setting.
Black text from this printer wasn’t the darkest we’ve seen, but its outlines were very sharp, even when viewed under magnification. The HP also produced decent greyscale photos and images, with just some subtle, fine banding.
Ignore this MFP’s price and its novel toner arrangement, and it’s slightly above average for an entry-level mono laser device. To do that is to completely miss the point, however. Whereas the typical device might come with the toner to print 500 pages or so, the 1202nw arrives with enough to cover two or three years of light office duty. For all but the very lightest use cases this makes it better value out of the box, and when the supplied toner runs out, it still offers the lowest running costs we’ve seen for a mono laser MFP at this price.
HP Neverstop Laser 1202nw specifications
600 x 600dpi A4 mono laser
USB, AirPrint, Google Cloud Print, Mopria, Android, iOS
150-sheet input tray
Recommended monthly duty cycle
381 x 294 x 287mm
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