When the HP 4730 came into our editorial department, its speed and capabilities increased our productivity. It brought us into the 21st century, leaving our aging HP Laser Jet 5m far behind.

The colors are brilliant, but reaching the end of a toner cartridge always came too soon budget-wise, so office staff attempted to stretch the lives of each cartridge with some success.

Unless one overrides the "supply out" message, the printer will not operate if one toner color is empty. The override process entails going through many menu selections, and may affect the print quality.

The toner cartridges cost $137 for black and $296 for cyan, magenta or yellow -- yielding 12,000 pages. For comparison's sake, high-yield 10,000-page cartridges for a comparable IBM multifunction printer -- the Infoprint 1664 -- cost $157 for black and $292 for color.

The original HP black cartridge lasted for more than 11,000 pages -- about five months -- before needing replacement. Of the color cartridges, cyan ran out first. It took a year for that to happen. The original cartridge yielded more than 22,000 pages. The replacement has a 12,000-page yield. After printing more than 32,000 pages, we had to replace the magenta and yellow toners.

The printer comes with three paper trays that fit a ream of paper each, plus a manual feed tray. It would have been nice if the unit automatically recognized legal paper when both the original and copy are legal size. Initially, when making legal copies, the unit had trouble taking the paper from the manual feed tray. It was slow to recognize that paper was in that feed tray, and then it tended to take more than one page at a time, creating a paper jam.

This, however, was the only time the printer jammed. For some reason, the printer didn't print properly when all three trays ran out of paper. But turning the printer off and on again seemed to get it back on track. The unit also printed as many as 20 envelopes without trouble.

The unit prints as many as 30 pages per minute, with a monthly yield of 175,000 pages. It prints 600 x 600 dpi for both color, and black and white. Photos printed from the 4730 had good color and detail. Color copies stayed true to the originals' colors. It also prints duplex copies, and offers reduction and enlargement from 25 percent to 400 percent.

The unit is configurable for e-mail and fax, and faxes black and white at a maximum of 300 x 300 dpi.

Overall, this printer performed magnificently. Though there were a couple oddities, such as the unit cleaning itself in the middle of a print job, it did everything we asked of it and required no technical assistance or help desk relief.

Rating: four out of five

Specifications

  • Flatbed ADF scanner with 50-sheet standard capacity

  • Four paper trays (including the manual feed tray), standard, maximum
  • Standard/maximum input capacity: up to 1,600 sheets

  • Standard output capacity: up to 500 sheets

  • Maximum output capacity: up to 700 sheets (with three-bin mailbox), up to 500 sheets (with stapler/stacker)

  • Standard envelope capacity: up to 20 envelopes

  • Price: $4,959.99
    Miriam Jones  |  Chief Copy Editor