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HP Color Laser MFP 179fnw: Review 

HP’s latest four-in-one laser printer is not only the smallest but also one of the most affordable in its category, which is great news for anyone working from home or a small office who needs all the functionality of a business-oriented device. The 18ppm print speed is fairly fast and the 150-page paper capacity makes it suitable to serve a small workgroup. It comes with security features to suit a shared office environment and compatibility with Apple AirPrint and Google Cloud Print for easy wireless operation via a smartphone.

HP’s designers are experts at shrinking printer technology as we discovered with the remarkable toaster-sized HP LaserJet Pro M15w(opens in new tab). 

While that model was easily the smallest mono laser printer, the new HP Color Laser MFP 179fnw claims to be the smallest colour laser printer in its class. In the flesh, it doesn’t look any smaller than your average laser MFD although its footprint is more compact because the depth measurement is slightly shallower than expected. However, to fit A4 paper inside, the first thing you have to do is extend the paper tray forwards, which kind of defeats the object. Suffice it to say, the HP Color Laser MFP 179fnw is quite compact for its type.

It looks rather smart when all of the extending flaps are folded away and the scanner levers open smoothly. The top-mounted ADF holds 40 sheets of A4 paper and the main paper tray holds 150 sheets, which is a good amount for a small printer. Unusually, the limiting factor here is the narrow output tray which can only hold 50 sheets before it starts spilling paper onto the floor. The toner cartridges are pre-loaded in the main body of the printer and account for most of its bulk.

The control panel is fixed, not tilting and the display is a very basic two-line LCD with cursors to scroll through the options. It’s a far cry from the touchscreen interface found on the HP Officejet Pro 9025(opens in a new tab). Wi-Fi is built-in while the rear panel offers Ethernet and USB connections. Sadly, there’s no front USB port for printing from a flash drive or scanning to one. There’s no automatic paper sensor and no indicator to show you how much paper is loaded in the main paper tray either. We were pleasantly surprised to find that a Type B USB cable is included in the box for when your Wi-Fi network lets you down.

HP Color Laser MFP 179fnw: Review 

Being a four-in-one device means that you can print, scan, copy and fax documents in black and white, or colour. 

There’s a 40-sheet ADF on top of the machine for lining up these jobs and an A4 size scanner bed below that. In terms of specifications, the HP Color Laser MFP 179fnw is modest and quite lacking in some respects. The claimed print speed of 19ppm for mono pages is fast enough, but 4ppm for colour is rather slow.  The paper capacity is adequate at 150 sheets while the narrow 50-sheet output tray is somewhat limiting. The print resolution and scan resolution are acceptable at 600 dpi each, but this is lower than most MFDs.

Wi-Fi and Wi-Fi Direct are built in and the HP Color Laser MFP 179fnw is compatible with AirPrint and Google Cloud Print for easy smartphone control. The companion app called AP Smart Print is very helpful for printing and scanning via the cloud.

There is only one paper tray, which is a little annoying when you come to switch between headed notepaper or different paper sizes. This tray can handle most types of media up to A4, but it can’t cope with cards or envelopes of any size.

There are quite a few features missing too, most notably an auto-duplex mode. If you are concerned about wasting paper, we wouldn’t recommend any printer that can’t print on both sides of the page. The specification sheet claims there is a manual duplex mode although this obviously takes time and we were unable to make it work during the test. Instead of a touchscreen interface, there’s only a basic LCD and there’s no automatic paper sensor, no NFC connectivity and no front USB port either.

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