A business colour laser of some heft, the Canon i-SENSYS LBP7780Cx builds extensively on the previously reviewed Canon LBP7680Cx adding an extra helping of performance, and improved paper handling, amongst other things.
See: more colour laser printer reviews.
The 25kg Canon LBP7680Cx wasn't exactly featherlight, but the Canon i-SENSYS LBP7780Cx is heavier still, tipping the scales at a bulky 31kg. Build quality is good, with the various compartments folding out without any suggestion of fragility. That's just as well, since this printer is designed for high-volume printing.
The standard input tray takes in 500 sheets, and another 100 sheets can be loaded into the multipurpose tray – that’s twice the overall capacity of the 7680Cx.
Should you need more, an additional 500-sheet tray can be bought, expanding the Canon i-SENSYS LBP7780Cx's maximum capacity to an impressive 1100 sheets.
The added strength also allows Canon to push the suggested duty cycle from an already healthy 60,000 pages a month, up to 75,000.
Canon i-SENSYS LBP7780Cx: Features
Both the LBP7680Cx and Canon i-SENSYS LBP7780Cx share the same controller and 768MB of memory, and both can handle PostScript, PCL6 and PCL5c, as well as Canon's proprietary UFRII (Ultra Fast Rendering) language.
Serious office printers don't tend to have colourful navigation systems, and the Canon i-SENSYS LBP7780Cx's text display is typically forbidding to the uninitiated.
In fairness, the person tasked with maintaining an office workhorse like the Canon i-SENSYS LBP7780Cx will likely already be IT-savvy. The interface offers considerable levels of customisation for those who know what they're doing.
Its multiple menus can be accessed from different buttons, making it quick to set up even advanced configurations once you know what you're doing. Network managers can also maintain the printer remotely.
The icons above the buttons aren't particularly easy to comprehend though, and more captioning here wouldn't have gone amiss.
The need for clarity counts doubly for those buttons that more general employees will want to use. Secure Print, for instance, lets you assign a password to your document, thus providing that element of confidentiality lacking on a printer that can be accessed by anyone in the office.
A neatly hidden front-mounted USB port lets you print files from a USB stick, and an optional SD card reader can also be fitted.
One new feature on Canon's increased business range is support for iPads and iPhones. You can now use the LBP7780Cx to print various files from these Apple devices. It's good to see business models starting to embrace mobile printing, although Android users are out of luck.
As with the LBP7680CX, the Canon i-SENSYS LBP7780Cx fully supports Canon's multi-functional embedded application protocol (MEAP) platform, allowing programmers to create custom Java applications that can be written into the printer itself.
For those with the skill, this is a powerful feature that could add subtle capabilities to your printer. On a model like the LBP7680Cx, it was likely to be a gimmick in most cases, but the Canon i-SENSYS LBP7780Cx is a powerful enough printer that it should find its way into companies of sufficient size to have software developers working for them.
Canon i-SENSYS LBP7780Cx: Performance
In laser terms, the LBP7680Cx wasn't terribly fast, producing a page-rate figure of just 13.8ppm in our real-world testing. The LBP7780Cx, however, is considerably faster, and could turn out text at the altogether better rate of 23.2ppm.
This improvement is partly due to the initial startup time being decreased – from 16 seconds to 10 seconds – but the LBP7780Cx also has extra grunt to power it through the print jobs.
Its 23ppm figure can't compete with the speed demon that is the Lomond EvoJet 2, but colour models typically struggle to get much beyond the Canon i-SENSYS LBP7780Cx's speed.
The Kyocera FS-C5250DN, at 24.8ppm, is marginally faster. However, the Canon i-SENSYS LBP7780Cx does have one extra printing trick up its sleeve – a stunning auto-duplex feature.
In general, auto-duplexing may save on paper, but the drop in speed is often dramatic. In the case of the cheaper LBP7680Cx, auto-duplexing resulted in a performance drop of 41%, for instance. But the LBP7780Cx falls by just 14% in this mode, giving an excellent double-sided figure of 19.9ppm.
In all honesty, when the difference between single-sided and automatic double-sided printing is this slight we wonder why anyone would not use the auto-duplex option as default. Canon obviously thinks similarly and, unusually, the Canon i-SENSYS LBP7780Cx employs auto-duplexing as its default position.
Text output is clean and the letters are reasonably formed, particularly when quality printing paper is used. The text isn't the darkest, but the overall effect is very easy to read.
The Canon i-SENSYS LBP7780Cx also offers colour printing, offering a speed of 16.7ppm. Again, it's a small step behind the Kyocera FS-C5250DN, but only just. And the quality of the Canon’s 9600 x 600dpi colour is very good, with vivid photographic results possible. Colour graduation is well handled, and the depth is strong provided that you experiment with different colour modes.
The Canon i-SENSYS LBP7780Cx is one of the better lasers we've seen for colour printing, beating, for example, the likes of the Lomond EvoJet 2 for its overall effect.
The toner may seem expensive (the three colour cartridges together amount to almost £500 worth), but capacities are high.
At 1.3p for a page of black text, the mono costs are extremely low – only just missing out on the Kyocera's keenly priced running costs.
Colour is more expensive of course, pushing the price up to 7.5p, although we suspect the cost of replacement toner may fall in the coming months.