Most offices have a few network laser printers scattered around for common use. A few managerial types get their own printers for confidential output or convenience.

The Hewlett-Packard Co. LaserJet 2100TN is just right for this particular executive privilege. It is also well suited to small work groups.

The 2100TN's output looks as good as or even better than that of the high-end HP Mopier 320, probably because the 2100TN produces true 1,200-dot-per-inch resolution. The Mopier's 600-dpi engine achieves a 1,200-dpi look through software enhancements.

I never waited long for documents from the 2100TN, whose 10-page-per-minute engine cranked out pages at almost the advertised rate.

I waited only 20 seconds to see the first page of a 180-page document. From mouse click to last-page clunk, the 180 pages took an hour. But the 2100TN paused several times during the large job, probably because its 8-megabyte memory buffer overloaded.

Small, five-page jobs finished in 45 seconds or less, not much slower than with a 32-page-per-minute Mopier.

Without an LED readout panel, I found it a little hard to figure out what the flashing red or green lights meant. Green usually meant printing was underway, and red meant out of paper. I had no big problems except that one paper drawer was too large, so the printer would not print from it. I had no paper jams.

The 2100TN has a 10/100-megabyte-per-second HP JetDirect card tucked behind a panel on one side along with the parallel port. You do not need to leave space behind the printer to accommodate plugs or cables. The panel gives a finished look for the executive suite, and the printer's small 16-by-17-inch footprint fits the corner of a desk nicely.

I had no problem getting the little printer on the network using JetDirect Admin. JetDirect lets you monitor the 2100TN remotely without having to enter the executive suite or disturbing a work group.

The 2100TN's front infrared port permits printing from a hand-held or notebook computer. Wireless printing from a palmtop running Microsoft Windows CE went without a hitch.

Prices for the 2100 range from $846 to $950, depending on configuration.

All of the 2100 models can print on standard or legal paper, envelopes, transparencies, card stock, postcards and labels. Memory is expandable to 52 megabytes.

My test unit kept me at my desk without having to run back and forth to the printer. I caught a couple of management types eyeing it enviously.

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LaserJet 2100TN printer

Hewlett-Packard Co.

Palo Alto, Calif.

Telephone: 1-800-538-8787

Web address: www.hp.com

Price: $999

Grade: A

Pros:

+ Good-quality output

+ Very easy to set up

Con:

- Slow on large documents