The HP LaserJet Pro M402n bucks the all-in-one trend and instead specializes in being the best black and white text printing machine out there. This unique focus and dedication has earned him our Top Pick for Basic Printing award. If the vast majority of your printing needs involve text-heavy documents, and you’ve ever watched the Olympic decathlon and thought, “These people could go pole vault a lot higher if they just stopped doing all that other stuff,” then the M402n is for you. It produces near-perfect text and was the fastest model in our test, at 25 pages per minute. Specify Wi-Fi connectivity for a simplified USB connection. Some may find this annoying, but we found that Wi-Fi printing was often more of a hassle than it was worth. One of the few drawbacks is the lack of double-sided printing, but the M402dn is essentially the same printer, but with the option of double-sided printing.
Our Analysis and Test Results
Criteria for Evaluation
- Next, we take a look at how the M402n performed in each of our individual tests.
The M402n scored a 9 on our text quality test, which only scored a 3. I wanted a 10, and I really wanted it. But the 10 are very rare here at Tech Gear Lab, they are reserved for products that simply amaze us and offer a level of quality that we could never have dreamed of.
Being picky eaters, we found that the M402n sometimes made the text seem a little light when printing italics in very small fonts. This small detail eliminated the possibility of an elusive perfect score, but other than this serious minor flaw, the M402n is flawless. Text looks sharp with a bold tone and completely smooth edges. So don’t be fooled by our overly pedantic score of 9, functionally the M402n produces perfect text and you won’t be disappointed.
- The M402n scored a 6 in our cost tests. This placed him in the leading group as the scores ranged from 2 to 7.
Prints black and white for about $0.03 per page or $15.48 per ream of paper. This was somewhat average cost, but combine it with the M402n’s low retail price and it had one of the lowest estimated lifetime costs of just $375. If you’re only printing documents with a lot of text, the M402n offers great value in the long run.
Ease of Use
- The M402n scored a 5 on our ease of use test, placing it at the bottom of a stat with scores ranging from 4 to 8.
It mostly lost points because of its simple design. It won our Top Pick for Basic Printing award for being, well, basic. Prints in black and white (black and white) only. It’s also the only model we tested that can’t print wirelessly. This makes it a bit more difficult to print because you have to be close to the printer and physically connect your computer to it with a USB cable. It also means that only one computer can send you a task at a time. However, this lack of wireless printing made the M402n the least frustrating model we tested. All other models had at least some issues with their wireless connectivity during our testing, and it never seemed to be an easy fix. This problem was so widespread that we suggested having a USB cable handy, no matter what printer you have, for when the WiFi-eating monsters inevitably arrive. We’ve never had connectivity issues with the M402n’s tethered connection, and because we expected to plug in to print, we never had the hassle. When our testers needed to print something of their own, such as a DMV form, they turned to the M402n simply because they had no Wi-Fi issues. This USB connection also made installation incredibly easy – just download a driver, plug in the printer and you’re done. The M402n’s control panel is also minimalistic with just a few buttons and a single-line LCD display. This lack of a complete interface isn’t a problem though, as the simple and clean design doesn’t require much troubleshooting. If you’re looking for the most flexibility in printing over Wi-Fi, or if you’re in a small office and want multiple computers to communicate with the printer at the same time, the M402n won’t work for you. However, if you think that the best tool is the simplest that always works, you will love the M402n.
As we mentioned before, the M402n’s bread and butter is text printing, and it certainly laid all its eggs in that basket. That’s why it scored a low score of 2 out of 10 in our graphics and photo print quality test.
The bars and lines in the images were very grainy and looked very light and faded. One reviewer noted that this was the quality you would expect from a cheap printer in a public library. The photos were similarly pixelated and faded. In short, you don’t buy the M402n for its graphics capabilities.
Print speed is one area where the M402n’s optimized and specialized design excels. It scored a 9 on our print speed test, making it the only occupancy of the top spot and giving it a big lead over the lowest scores, which got a 2.
It printed 25 pages per minute on our simplex text document test. To put that into perspective, the M402n was able to print Tolstoy’s War and Peace in 48 minutes. That’s the printing of one of the longest novels ever written in the time it takes you to dine. It didn’t slow down at all when printing mixed text and graphics documents. It also went through a full-page photo in just 14 seconds, although this super-specialized text engine probably isn’t the one you’d want to use for images.
It also prints in black and white at a reasonable speed, giving it a fairly low estimated cost of living. The list price seems a bit high to us, but if you can find it for a lower price and mainly want to print text, the M402n is a great value.
The M402n won’t please anyone looking for a versatile machine to do it all. But if you’re looking for a simple, reliable device to print high-quality text at blazing fast speeds, you can’t beat the M402n.