There are quite a few numbers to decipher when it comes to laser printers. At the top of the list are RAM, processor speed and hard-drive size. The Hewlett-Packard LaserJet 4550N, for example, sounds like a fully stocked computer when you look at the details: 128MB RAM, a 233MHz processor and a 5GB hard drive. All that tech oomph translates to fast handling of large print jobs. Those numbers are especially important if you plan on printing big color graphics files on a regular basis. Some lasers offer a hard-drive option, but it isn't standard equipment.
Another spec to pay attention to is pages per minute (ppm). Most of the printers in the chart are around 4 ppm in color and 16 ppm in monochrome. Unless you're running a printing press operation, that's fast enough to handle most of your needs.
When you pay $2,500 for a printer, expect a few extras. One of those is networking. Unlike most inkjets, most of the printers in our chart come standard with Ethernet networking. That makes them ideal for use in a workgroup or a small networked office. The Canon C LBP 460PS and NEC SuperScript 4650N are examples of cross-platform Mac- and Windows-compatible machines.
Once you've decided that a color laser printer is right for your business needs, selecting one comes down to price and features. If you're dealing with lots of large graphics files on a regular basis, look to the amount of RAM and the hard-drive size. If speed's a concern, consider something along the lines of the Minolta-QMS 2200 for marginally faster printouts. Most of all, your budget will enjoy the cost-savings over color inkjets.