HP LaserJet 4 Review
The HP LaserJet 4 is a group of black and white laser printers that were introduced in the early 1990's, at the very beginning of Hewlett-Packard's run of their LaserJet line. Three different models were available for purchase, that were specifically tailored to personal, business and small business needs, featuring different paper hold capacities and output speeds and were rated for the durability needs of each application. Variants of each available model were designated as Apple Macintosh compatible at a time when a compatibility standard between PC and Mac did not not yet exist.
Depending on the model purchased, print speeds could reach a maximum of 17 pages per minute.
The 4, 4M, 4+ and 4M+ became known for their durability due to a solid and sturdy construction during a time when the small laser printer was relatively new to the market and businesses were looking for a means to execute lower-volume print jobs without having to purchase a large, expensive floor unit.
The spread of the LaserJet 4 among small businesses and home offices helped HP to dominate the laser printing market due to a solidly earned reputation for providing reliability and affordability.
The driver for the HP LaserJet 4 is simple and generalized, yet effective, and has been discovered to work with a wide range of compatible printers and serve as a solution to compatibility problems with certain types of older software. The driver comes standard with Windows operating system installations, listed as a generic print driver for legacy devices.
A very popular feature of the 4, 4+ and 4si models, especially among graphic designers, was the straight-through paper feed. Really thick print media could be used without jamming the printer, as the media was manually fed through the front and exited through the back.
Japanese and Chinese models came with increased memory capabilities to accommodate Asian fonts.
Print resolution for most models was generally a maximum of 600 x 600 dots per inch, which at the time was a respectable quality level for text document printing and some minor graphics.
The mechanism had an unusually high duty cycle of 20,000 duty cycles and there are some out there today that are still operating reasonably well after having printed more than a million pages.
Replacement roller kits can still be purchased to solve paper jam issues and help bring new life back to this durable model.
These units were known to develop problems in the exit mechanism after a significant amount of use that resulted in frequent accordion-like paper jams, mainly due to the delivery rollers becoming worn and unserviceable.
The 4 and 4M models, which were the original LaserJets introduced in 1992, had a slow speed of 8 pages per minute and the feeders could not be extended, nor was duplex printing possible.
As with a lot of earlier laser printers and copiers, the business-class 4Si was prone to phantom paper jams, confusing a user who was unable to see anything obstructing the mechanism yet receiving a persistent error message. This was due to lint and dust accumulation on the rollers that would eventually make it more difficult for them to turn freely. Paper clearance was also an issue due to this build-up and frequent, persistent paper jams would occur when using certain weights of printable stock.
Another common form of phantom paper jam occurred when feeder solenoids became sticky and paper would be fed into the mechanism later and later until sensors would trick the printer firmware into thinking there was a jam. The telltale symptom of an impending false jam error was a slowly decreasing top margin on printed material.
The smaller and more affordable model 4V, which was designed for graphic artists based on the Canon BX-II engine, were prone to paper jams due to broken roller gear teeth, necessitating replacement of the roller to return the unit to full working order.
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