HP LaserJet 4L Review
How many of you have bought a personal printer because of it’s small size and footprint only to discover the printer needs at least 10 more inches just because of the horizontal paper tray or output bin? Let’s face it, it’s the length of the paper used in printers which ultimately determines the space a printer occupies on your desk. The HP LaserJet 4L solves this problem by having the paper feed up instead of out, with 300 dpi resolution and print speeds up to four pages per minute.
Introduced in May 1993, the LaserJet 4L was the first generation of “L” series vertical-feed laser printers by Hewlett-Packard. The small 13.2” x 12.3” footprint allows the LaserJet 4L to find a home any place where desk space is tight.
The LaserJet 4L has a resolution typical of most low-prices laser printers of the time. The 300 x 300 dpi resolution is adequate text and basic graphics, but photographs will appear very grainy. Like all LaserJets, the 4L comes with a Toner Save feature to conserve on toner.
The LaserJet 4L can hold up to 150 legal-size sheets in its rearward input tray, with a 1-sheet “priority” slot for envelopes, transparencies, card stock, labels, sizes ranging from 3” x 5” postcard up to 8.5" x 14” legal size. The reason for HP calling the front slot “priority” is any paper, labels, or envelopes that are inserted will get printed on the next print job. This saves time from having to switch from the typical manual, hand-feed printing of other printers. For paper versatility the 4L gives you two paper feed output options. A simple flip of a switch on the printer changes feed direction from vertical to the more traditional horizontal printing for heavier paper, envelopes, and transparencies.
The HP comes with only 1MB of memory, which is suitable for basic home printing needs. A panel in the back allows for adding up to 8MB more of DRAM memory, to make it a great printer for printing student reports and research papers. The LaserJet 4L has the parallel connection typical of all non-network printers in 1995. While PC’s with a parallel interfaces have become few and far between, it’s always nice to free up a USB port if your computer still has a parallel port.
Impressive in 1993, the four pages per minute print speed of the LaserJet 4L in the New Millennium lags behind the cheapest inkjet on the market today. For someone who doesn’t print a lot, doesn’t need “instant gratification”, and wants to take advantage of the longer storage life of toner over ink, the 4L will satisfy those requirements.
After about three to five years the 4L will start developing a paper feed issue. Typical of most vertical-feeds during it’s time, the 2” pick-up roller band will either require cleaning or rotation. If you’re mechanically inclined, getting to the roller shouldn’t be a problem. For those who don’t like to disassemble things, usually keeping the feed tray full seems to bypass the feeder problem.
While increasing the meager 1MB of memory is possible on the LaserJet 4L, finding the right memory is not. While you can find a 1GB DDR2 DIMM at any WalMart, finding any memory up to 8MB will be a challenge. Add the fact that the HP requires the old DRAM memory, and upgrading can become an expensive challenge.
There comes a time when function should take precedence over fashion. While the 4L’s control panel is quite unobtrusive and simple, interpreting the controls is not. The 4L has a single “Go” button and four “status” LEDs. These lights are used in Morse code fashion to communicate up to 9 different messages or errors. While it might not have been stylish, I would have opted for more buttons. Meanwhile, make a copy of the light codes and tape it on the LaserJet.
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