Colour Laser Recommendations, Please!

  Sebby 11:42 03 Apr 06
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I am looking for a colour laser for a small business, and I don't know where to start. It must also be network ready.

At the moment, we have an HP OfficeJet v40, and though it's lasted well, it is far from efficient in terms of the cost per page. We go through ink cartridges like there's no tomorrow! We print a fair amount of colour pages (such as signs, notices, etc). The black mainly goes on faxes, but I will buy a separate cheap fax machine rather than looking for a built in one (unless it just so happens to be included).

I need something that's not too large, not too expensive (no more than about £250-£300), gives a good number of pages, and whose toners are not ridiculously expensive.

As I say, I've really got no idea, so if anyone can provide some help, I'd appreciate it.

  pj123 12:54 03 Apr 06
  Sebby 15:21 03 Apr 06

I don't mean for this to sound rude, but I need more advice than finding a good price. :-s

  squillary 18:50 06 Apr 06

For any business a Laser is pretty essential, but it all comes down to cost of consumables. the company I worked for could afford £180 for each colour on a monster duplex jobby, but I see that's overkill for you.

I had the chance to buy a surplus-to-reqts smaller effort (HPLJ2550LN from that link) and consumable costs were still a killer. £140 for each colour with 3000 copy capacity plus black plus £100 for a fuser unit. To make matters worse, a colour page would count as 4 copies for the fuser, so its 20k capacity reduced to a mere 5000 before compulsory replacement. No cheap toner refills were available for that model either.

If that's ok for you, good. The volumes are way in excess for what you get from your current OfficeJet and the quality and speed will be far better too, but those are the issues you need to investigate.

For what it's worth, the decision I made at our place was NOT to connect the colour to every machine (a select few) but to get another B&W laser as default for routine letters, faxes and internal memos and just use the colour printer when really necessary. You don't get the issue of ink drying up with limited use and no-one gets blase about printing to the colour. Refills are available for the B&W and cheap too (£40?)

Armed with that and with a bit of checking up I hope you can find something appropriate.

  Totally-braindead 19:13 06 Apr 06

I don't know if you buy the PCA mag or not but their recommendations are 1 - Epson C1100 £215 2 - Dell 3100cn £350 3 - Canon LBP5200 £239 4 - OKI C3200 £210 and 5 - Lexmark C524 £445.

I've no experience with laser printers but I do like Epson and for £215 I would think you can't go far wrong. Speed 25 pages per minute in black 5 pages in colour. And they mention the quality of the prints, black and colour as well as low running costs. Worth a look perhaps.

  siouxah1 22:54 06 Apr 06

Sebby, here are a few comments on the C1100 which is from a previous posting. Suggest you research the use of the photoconductor as per Sqillary above.

Iwould think that the other Lasers in this price range would be very much the same.

All my observations here are referring to the lower end of the colour laser range. In particular the Epson Aculaser C1100.

COST
Each toner replacement, and there are four, costs in the region of £50 each. The Black is of higher capacity than the cyan, magenta and yellow.
One would also need to factor in the cost of the photoconductor drum which I believe is good for 40,000 sheets.
The printer I have used has printed x72 A4 photo sheets and X22 B/W sheets (text) and has used about 50% of the toner. I am sure you can do the maths on that.
Perhaps the cost will reduce as more supplies become available. The toner came with the printer so not sure if they are of reduced capacity, but would think not.

QUALITY
The B/W printing is excellent.
The colour photo output can be on plain or special gloss paper. (Not the usual photo gloss paper.) This costs in the region of £16 per 250 sheets from Epson.
The photo output on both plain and gloss paper is fair to good. Not much difference between them. However the perception of quality on the gloss is better.

It is very speedy and convenient.

However I would not compare the output of the laser as anywhere near that of my Canons ip5000 and i9950. There is in my opinion no comparison.

Regards Brian

  Sebby 23:22 06 Apr 06

Thanks for the responses everyone.

I'm currently working my way through the recommended models.

Brian - are you saying that just 22 pages of text has used half the black toner and 72 colour pages has used half of the colour toners? Surely I must have misunderstood.

  siouxah1 17:19 07 Apr 06

Sebby,
sorry that might have been a touch misleading.

I believe that Epsons figures for colour printed pages is 5% coverage.

Whereas the colour pages I refer to are photographic prints at A4 size. This would be perhaps 90% coverage. So a little maths would be needed to get my print costs per colour page. I did do the calculation at one time but cannot find them.

Ignoring the text pages.

77 pages at 90% coverage. Use 50% of toner. 4 x £50 = £200 / 2 = £100. 100 / 77 = £1.30 per A4 photo page. + £0.06 paper = £1.36 per A4 photo plus cost of photo conductor drum.

So an A4 sheet without paper at 5% coverage would be £1.30 / 18 = £0.072.

Please forgive me if the maths do not stand up to too close a scrutiny. Used to be alright with mental arithmetic - but now?

Brian

  Sebby 17:32 07 Apr 06

Thanks, Brian, that makes sense now. :-)

I've been looking around and the Lexmark C522n looks to be a good buy. It has good reviews, it's £310 + VAT with £150 cashback from Lexmark until 14th April, and it has everything (in terms of features) I want! Does anyone have experience of this?

  Wilham 23:30 07 Apr 06

Well, I took the plunge and bought this Oki last week. I lost patience with reviews from writers that added nothing to specs of manufacturer. Annoying was to see an opinion that inkjets gave better photos than lower priced lasers. .., and added was a note that the laser prints would be improved with better quality paper. Like for like?

The Oki usually gets a mention it's not a laser but an led. An opinion that it prints below the definition of a proper laser was not evident in any samples I saw. I do know the Oki doesn't generate the ozone whiff I've had with my three earlier mono lasers.

I bought the Oki from Ebuyer, price about £166 +carriage + vat. Oki machine is not that big, but pulling out the trays and allowing the 20cm space both sides (as instructions) does take up room.

Setting up Oki required me to pull out a yellow plasic transit locking device. I tugged the red tape on the neck, -it snapped. I wrenched the yellow plastic with finger,.. wouldn't budge. Finally had success, but why oh why doesn't it tell you to ease it by pressing the tab underneath?

I bought the Oki because my inkjet downloads of 80pp or so haven't been consistent in quality, especially when printing 'colour on colour' graphs. Changing the cartridge midway also shows up in a run.

My earlier mono lasers I used to refill. It was much cheaper, worked fine, but essential to check the toner was compatible. This time I saw Oki C3200 compatible toner was commonly available on web from independent suppliers,- that influenced my choice.

So far in short term I am delighted with it.

  AndySD 23:56 07 Apr 06

Sebby

Brought it last week.

Its a little large but the print quality has been way better than I expected. Networking it is simple, the instructions are on the cd. As a plus so far the manual feed for envelopes hasnt crumpled one yet. The only down so far is its better not to use the manual feed for card....better to put it in the paper tray. Also I was looking for extra ram for it and its cheap at crucial.co.uk

Andy

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