The new 3050 is solidly put together and attractive, for a LaserJet at least. Compared with the Konica Minolta 2480 MF multi-function laser printer, the 3050 is slightly smaller but only a third of the weight, making it easier to move around.

On the plus side, the HP device has standalone fax capabilities, rather than needing to send and receive faxes through an attached PC. The fax standard is the latest Super G3, which offers a relatively fast 33.6Kbps transmission speed, although you should note that colour faxing is not supported.

Standalone fax and photocopy controls are easy and intuitive to operate. Useful features include auto redialling, delayed fax sending and storage for up to 119 broadcasting locations. There's also 2MB of dedicated fax memory for storing up to 110 pages, plus a 30-sheet automatic document feeder that worked flawlessly in our tests.

On the quality front, the scanner is more than capable for document scanning and standalone photocopying, but it can't match dedicated photo scanners for sharpness or colour accuracy. Printing, on the other hand, is as crisp and sharp as you could hope for.

The HP only has mono facilities - in a world that's going full colour for almost all of its computing requirements, this will seem a glaring omission to many buyers. The 3050 is only half the purchase price of the Konica Minolta but, with laser printers typically being used for highvolume printing, running costs are a major consideration.

Many laser printers have mono page costs of around 1.3p per print (the 2480 MF included), but the 3050 is almost twice as expensive at 2.5p per print. The imaging drum is built into the toner cartridge, rather than being a separate item, and so is renewed every 2,000 prints.

However, separate image drums normally last for around 45,000 prints and, over that length of time, the 3050's toner cartridges will have cost you an additional £540 - the price of several imaging drums. For our money, the 3050 represents a poor buying decision. Matthew Richards