The Canon I-Sensys LBP7750Cdn network colour laser printer shows that paying a little extra will probably prove money well spent.
Fast, capably specified and with a clutch of useful features, the Canon I-Sensys LBP7750Cdn ticks almost every box. And surprisingly, it manages to look almost attractive at the same time. This in spite of its vast size - it takes up the largest footprint of any of these models. And it's not just the dimensions of this printer that may make it difficult to accommodate. Paper will generally be loaded into the robust (too robust - it required considerable force to get it to close properly) 250-sheet drawer that can pulled out from the front of the printer.
However, there's also a rather substantial and flexible 100-sheet multi-purpose tray, and this needs to be accessed from the side of the printer. So, should you want to make use of the 100-sheet tray, you'll need to leave at least the right side of the printer free. It is nice to see 350-sheets provided as standard, though. You can buy an additional 500-sheet A4 cassette. With maximum paper handling of 850 sheets, the Canon I-Sensys LBP7750Cdn isn't over-generous in this regard - a number of its rivals go beyond 900, but this should be ample for the typical office.
The duty cycle of 75,000 sheets a month is also quite adequate, if not measuring up to the likes of the Epson C3900DN we also looked at.
The five-line LCD screen is rather more comprehensive than most we've seen, and the constant checks on toner levels are useful. The control panel has a plentitude of buttons, and you can control most aspects of the Canon I-Sensys LBP7750Cdn while standing in front of it. There are perhaps a few too many menus, and it may take users a bit of time to find the feature they need - in a busy office when numerous users (many of them not particularly familiar with the Canon) are jostling for space at the printer, this isn't ideal, but it is good to have the versatility.
The Canon I-Sensys LBP7750Cdn comes with some strong remote monitoring features, and you can set different IDs for each department so as to keep a check on how much each department is spending, and to restrict access to certain users.
You get 256MB of memory as standard - a good amount to be starting with - and this can be boosted to a significant 768MB. Ethernet facilities are provided, although wireless isn't included. Canon does offer this as an option, although the NB-W2 board is likely to set you back almost as much as the cost of the printer itself, which would make this an expensive addition.
Up to version 6 of PCL (Printer Command Language) is supported as standard, as is Canon's proprietary UFRII, although you'll need to buy an additional ROM should you want support for PostScript. The latter will only set you back about £40, although users with specialist needs may feel slightly short-changed, given that other less costly printers here come with PostScript 3 support as standard. Supported operating systems include Server 2003 and 2008, and most recent versions of Mac OS. Windows 7 support is available - although not noted in any of Canon's literature - but Linux users appear not to be covered.
Canon I-Sensys LBP7750Cdn: Performance
No printer we looked at in our group test is faster at producing text than the Canon I-Sensys LBP7750Cdn, and its rate of 20.7 pages per minute (ppm) is excellent. Better yet, the duplexing feature, which often gave the impression of working on three sheets of paper at once, is incredibly fast. The rate falls to just 16.2ppm - the duplex mode alone is as fast as the Konica Minolta 3730DN in simplex mode. This is incredibly pleasing, and makes it very likely that users will be keen to make use of the money-saving option.
When it comes to text quality, the Canon I-Sensys LBP7750Cdn treads with considerable balance. Text is well-formed and reasonably sharp, but it never hits the highest heights in either department.
Of all the printers we looked at, the Canon I-Sensys LBP7750Cdn has perhaps the most realistic colour palette. Shades are never too much, with skin tones looking thoroughly authentic, but green grass and blue skies being vividly and lovingly recreated. Where the Canon does fall down slightly is on the details of the images, with edges of shapes lacking perfection. Also, in places, colour gradients aren't as well handled as on some other printers. PowerPoint presentations look great, though, with a beautiful glossy sheen. Overall we were very impressed with the results. Speed is also good here, with 11.5ppm, although the Epson C3900DN and Brother HL-4150Cdn were faster again. The Canon is also very quick at moving into action, and 15 seconds for the PDF was very good.
The Canon may be expensive to buy in the first place, but its running costs will compensate. At 1.4p and 6.7p for a page of black and colour respectively, the Canon is likely to offer the lowest running costs of all. Combine this with its strong speed (particularly for duplex printing), high quality and good specifications, and the Canon is an excellent model.
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