Pros / It prints great-looking text.
Cons / We found print errors in the photos we printed.
Verdict / The HP LaserJet Pro MFP M281fdw multi-function color laser printer is compact and prints crisp, clean text.
We were happy with the LaserJet Pro MFp M281fdw's performance during our wireless laser printer tests. It has a resolution of 600 x 600 dots per inch (dpi), which is good enough for most projects. We detected only a few stray dots of toner in the numerous documents we printed, and the text the machine produced was very readable. Even in some of our trickier tests, the print'er quality exceeded that of the HP's larger, more feature-rich MFP M477fdw. Based on our tests, we believe the MFP M281fdw is one of the best printers for printing text and a good value for the price.
The photos and graphics it prints are of pretty average quality for a laser printer – laser printers struggle to create detail and can’t print photos as well as inkjet models. When we printed images and photos with the MFP M281fdw, we found a few more glaring printing errors than we did with other laser printer models we tested. For example, it produced the same banding and pixelation as the MFP M477fdw. Also, while it had good color accuracy, there were several large bald spots without any color in the same place on multiple pages – right in the middle of graphics or images. Its image print quality was disappointing because the printer did so well in our other tests.
The HP LaserJet Pro MFP M281fdw is smaller than its sister, the MFP-M477fdw. However, it can handle the same heavy-duty workload as our best value pick, the Dell Color Cloud Multifunction printer – up to 2,500 pages per month. The MFP M281fdw’s main input tray holds the standard 250 pages, but it doesn’t have a secondary tray. While this saves you some space, you might have to change paper or refill the machine more frequently. The printer has a single-page document tray for making quick scans.
Just like with the HP LaserJet Pro MFP M477fdw, we had a bit of trouble getting this printer’s auto-duplexing feature, which allows the machine to print on both sides of a sheet of paper, to work. We downloaded the most recent drivers and got it going but only after making a few phone calls, writing some emails, and researching in the printer’s online forums and manuals.
The LaserJet Pro MFP M281fdw has a 2.7-inch touchscreen display. Because of its small size, it’s harder to enter setting and connectivity information than it is on HP’s bigger MFP M477fdw model.
Like many of HP’s products, the LaserJet Pro MFP M281fdw has a lot of connectivity options. However, it isn’t NFC-capable – a feature that allows you to connect your smartphones and tablets to the printer by touching the two devices together. You can still use the company’s app to print from your mobile devices and the cloud. The printer can connect to your computer both through a wired connection or wireless network, which is standard. Also, there’s a convenient USB port on the front of the machine.
In theory, HP has all the support options we look for, including a one-year warranty and phone support. However, we didn’t feel very supported when we encountered problems with the printer. A lot of our requests dead-ended in having to wait several days for an email from technical support rather than getting help immediately.
Despite seeing a few large errors in the print tests we conducted, which are likely an aberration specific to the machine we tested, we think this printer is a good value. It printed clear text, and it is a convenient compact size. It also has all the basic connectivity options we look for, though it’s missing a few extra features and a secondary paper tray.