The Good The HP LaserJet Pro 400 M401dw’s direct USB port, wireless connectivity, and remote printing features offer a variety of ways to interact with the printer.
The Bad HP Smart Install works only with Windows, and the slim touch screen display makes it easy to use.
The Bottom Line The $ 399 HP LaserJet Pro 400 M401dw combines all of HP’s latest technology into a tight package, but the 3.5-inch touchscreen doesn’t offer unique enough features to guarantee a price spike of up to $ 400, especially when compared to competing devices. Small businesses and homes that buy a reliable monochrome laser printer for fast printing should ignore the overpriced HP LaserJet M401dw price tag and look for a better deal.
The $ 399 HP LaserJet Pro 400 M401dw combines all the latest HP technologies into a tight package; You get Smart Install, which eliminates the hassle of installing a driver disk, ePrint remote access, and printing via a USB port on the front, but the 3.5-inch touchscreen doesn’t offer unique enough features to guarantee a price jumped to $ 400, especially compared to competing devices. Small businesses and homes that buy a reliable monochrome laser printer for fast printing should ignore the overpriced HP LaserJet M401dw price tag and look for a better deal.
The design of the LaserJet Pro M401dw is a new look for HP LaserJet printers as the older models give way to new technology – in this case, the latest addition is a 3.5-inch color touchscreen mounted on a plastic arm that rises from the machine. The toothed hinge at the base of the hand allows you to gradually increase the viewing angles up to 90 degrees (perpendicular to the chassis), but the strokes that guide it into position allow you to irritate the shaky look every time you press the button. This jitter is very frustrating, especially when trying to enter an SSID or scroll through the on-screen menus.
The rest of the printer – including the outlet tank and the 250-sheet input tray – feels sturdy and able to withstand daily wear and tear. You’ll find a toner cartridge latch button underneath the top of the printer, and fully fold two trays (paper and toner) into the printer for easy access. The direct-access USB port on the lower left of the machine is also a new addition to the LaserJet for anyone who can go up and print a document or photo on a flash drive.
HP allows you to print the M401dw using a variety of methods, but the simplest is to install HP smartly. Just plug it in, plug it into a Windows PC (Mac OS not supported), turn it on, and let HP Smart Install take care of everything else. Convenience allows you to not install the drivers from the CD. Instead, the drivers and software are stored on the printer itself.
After connecting the printer to our trial version, the software prompted me to download the necessary software. It has a driver, as well as a small application that manages print jobs, troubleshooting, toner cartridges, user guides, and more. Although you do not need to reach the built-in CD to install the printer, you will need to find a USB or Ethernet cable (only a USB cable is included).
Setting up your printer with an Ethernet cable is almost as simple as setting up a direct connection. As with USB installation, you can use the included CD or Smart Install. I chose the latter. You first need to print a configuration report from the printer control panel by clicking the setup button (which has a wrench icon), use any of the arrow keys to select “Reports” from the main menu, and then select “Customize Report.” The printer then pops out two pages of configuration details, one of which is the printer’s IP address.
Enter the address in the PC browser on your network and go to the HP Smart Install tab on the web page you received. From there, click the green Download button to install the software. After a quick load, the printer prints a test page to confirm that it is connected to your network.
Once connected to the Internet, you can also set your own ePrint email address, which allows you to attach email messages as image files, PDFs, and photos, and will send a separate task for any text displayed in the body of the email.
The default settings allow anyone with an address to print wirelessly, but you can also set up a list of proven senders to allow on a private network. My testing confirms that ePrint works with a variety of web clients, such as Gmail, Yahoo Mail, Hotmail, and Microsoft Outlook, and you can even send articles via email from an RSS feed such as Google Reader.
The process for connecting to an 802.11b / g / n wireless network is similar, except that you need to enter your SSID and password to start the process. As soon as the printer finds your router, a physical Wi-Fi button on the front of the control panel will confirm the connection and print a confirmation email and you are set up.
All three connectivity options are easy to install and once you set up the LaserJet you will find that this is a careful service – it does not consume energy (Energy Star qualified) and is quite quiet during operation. It also has an automatic duplex version on the back that automatically flips the page for two-sided printing.
Adding cloud computing features and Smart Install still doesn’t reach $ 399, however, especially when competing devices such as Brother HL-5450DN have the same capacity for feeding paper at 300 sheets for half the cost. It cuts costs by lowering the touch screen instead of the LED notification system from above, but if all you’re looking for is a simple mid-output monochrome laser printer, you can still get a network connection and duplexer far less HP, with similar performance to download.
Compared to its competitors at a similar price, the HP M401dw remains ahead of the set with exemplary results in black graphic prints coming out of the fastest spot with its own compact brother HP LaserJet Pro P1606dn . This is way behind the budget of the HL-5450dn brother, but there are still quick estimates.
HP print quality is equally useful for small offices and workgroups. Black text samples show excellent quality with true black text and dark photos on the graphic page, though some elements need sharpness and appear as a shade of gray rather than solid black. In addition, HP barcode samples reference HP, crafting line blocks with precise detail and saturation that are certainly worthy of professional handouts.
Service and support
HP supports the LaserJet Pro 400 M401dw with a standard one-year warranty, which includes 24-7 free phone support and Web chat on weekdays. The HP Web site also contains downloadable drivers, software and tutorials.
A smart installation eliminates the typical tedious process of keeping the drivers on the printer to speed things up, but the overly ambitious price tag and the sleazy hand holding the touch screen display make it less convenient. Home offices and small businesses can get equal performance without the touch screen from competitors at half the price.
Printer Performance Estimates (in ppm)
(Longer bars indicate better performance)
|Presentation||Black graphics||Black text|
22.4620.8921.13 HP LaserJet Pro 400 M401dw
21.6322.0320.79 HP LaserJet Pro P1606dn
19.2922.520.5 Brother HL-2270DW
18.1519.0318.64 Canon imageClass MF3010