My mom just bought this today and I helped her set it up. I'm already thinking about buying one, even though I already have a laser MFC at home. It's that good. The setup is easy, the quality is good, and the price is right.
1. Setup on PC, Mac, and network
It was super easy. HP includes the usual install CD, but you don't need it on PC; they put the files on the machine, and they show up when you connect the USB cable (the same way a USB flash drive would, though this doesn't work on Mac). Just follow the instructions; everything is straightforward.
If you want to use it over the network (i.e., connect it to your router), you still need to connect it via USB first. Before too long, the installation program tells you to disconnect the USB cable, and you don't need to connect it via USB any further. (So if you have a USB cable that you can use temporarily, you don't need to buy another just for the printer to use it over the network.)
If you haven't yet connected the networking cable from the printer to the router, it'll tell you when to connect it, and the router and printer should talk to each other without any difficulty. (My mom's router is a modem/router/wifi hub combo from the Paleozoic Era, issued by a very low-tech rural DSL provider, and it worked just fine.) I expected the networking part to be hard, and it was actually fairly easy. If everything I've written so far makes sense, you probably know enough to set this up on the network.
Once it's set up on one computer and on the network, use the driver CD to install the drivers on any other computers on your network; this is even easier.
Within an hour (half of the time making room for the printer and so forth), we had:
*Installed the drivers on 4 computers (1 Mac and 3 PCs--one is even Vista!)
*Printed test pages from each
*Set up the fax preferences (you can do this on the computer via the device management software, which is WAY easier than navigating the device menus)
*Successfully scanned documents into JPGs and PDFs, via the flatbed and sheetfeeder, over the network (many MFCs print well over the network but make it all but impossible to scan without connecting the USB cable), via Mac and PC
I've connected a LOT of devices to a LOT of computers, and for such a complicated device, this was ridiculously easy. Major kudos to HP's software team.
Print and copy quality are great. That's a given with a laser printer, I suppose. It's only black-and-white, but if you don't need color (e.g., if you print your photos at the pharmacy) or have a separate color printer (e.g., a photo-quality inkjet printer), you're good.
The scanning quality is also very good. 300x300 pixel black-and-white scans of sheet-fed documents make great PDFs. I also did a 1200x1200 pixel color scan of an old sports card, and it's quite sharp. I'm not somebody who works with images for a living, but unless you are (or are a very serious hobbyist), this scanner should suit your needs.
I wasn't able to get the standard Mac software (Image Capture) to operate the scanner (that software is pretty weak anyway), but the HP Director software works well on Mac (genuinely shocked) and PC.
My one complaint about using the HP software for scanning is that it doesn't let you preview-and-crop. If you need cropping (e.g., if you're scanning in 4x6 photos), you'll need to do that with another program. You probably already have something on your computer that will do this, but if not, you can download GIMP (free open source program) or buy something cheap and simple to crop, correct color, etc.
We haven't tried the fax yet.
At the list price, this is a steal. Even lower-quality manufacturers (you know who they are) are charging similar prices for laser MFCs with no networking capability.
If you've never bought a laser printer, the toner cost (currently on the HP website at $68 for a cartridge that yields about 1600 pages) might be a turnoff, but on a per-page basis, it's probably somewhat-to-much cheaper than the inkjet you're using or considering. The overall build quality and durability of laser printers is also much better, so your "total cost of ownership" (cost of printer + ink/toner, divided by pages printed before the device dies) is likely much lower.
In short, this printer is a winner, at least based on initial quality.
My wife and I are very pleased with this printer.
The bottom line:
It's quiet, fast (for our needs) and very well built. It connects directly to our home network, which means I don't have to turn my wife's computer (or vice versa) on to print. Perfect printer for a home office for a great price. Replacing our old inkjet printer for a laser was by far the best decision we could have made.
My wife needed a copier (she has a home office) and our inkjet was acting funny for the last few weeks. We had been spending $[...] every six weeks in ink cartridges and were getting tired of it. So we looked into laser printers and figured out that if we spent twice as much upfront in a laser printer, in the long run we were going to save money. Every one told us that bar Xerox (incredibly expensive), HP made the best printers. We compared Canon, Brother and HP B&W laser printers and found that the m1212nf was the best deal: flat bed, automatic feeder (for when you need to copy a bunch of single pages), and a price tag comparable to lesser quality printers.
Truly plug-and-play for a Vista computer (my wife's), you don't even need a CD since the drivers are stored IN the printer. Painless installation for Linux (Ubuntu 10.4), as well. You just need to download HPLIP's latest version from HP's website. It is that easy.
The printer is connected through an Ethernet cable to our LAN, and I can print wirelessly over WiFi, no need to turn my wife's computer on.
A flat bed cum auto feeder gives you the greatest flexibility possible to scan and copy documents.
Its footprint is a little big, but this is a multifunction device, so what are you going to do? It sits quite nicely over one of those small file cabinets.
Overall is a well built piece of equipment: it's sturdy and it works as intended. (Haven't tried the fax, though... it's no longer the 1990s!)
I've had this printer for roughly a month now, having replaced an older HP Laserjet 1300 series printer. I'm very happy with its performance thus far. Set up on my Mac was easy enough (download the latest driver package from the HP site), print quality is excellent (and very fast), copier function is actually faster and better than I hoped it would be, and fax performance is great. Document feeder works pretty well, too. My only gripes are 1) the copier lid isn't hinged, so copying thick books is a bit awkward; and 2) there is no secondary paper feed, so when I need to print an envelope I have to take all the paper out of the feed tray and adjust the paper holders, print the envelope, and then put it all back. All in all, though, I'd buy it again in a heartbeat.