Business laser printers
We put a selection of high-capacity office printers to the test. We analyse what printer is best for your workplace and what dosn't work.
If you want a reliable printer, it has to be a laser. Inkjet manufacturers can stress how their latest business models are as quick and cheap to run as laser printers, but when it comes to speed and capacity there’s nothing to beat the printers on test this month.
In the second part of our laser test – in July, we tested sub-$500 products – we’ve put together a group of more serious printers.
To look at, there’s nothing remarkable about them, but you should never judge a laser printer by its cosmetic shell; it’s what’s under the hood that matters.
This month’s printers may cost more initially, but they’re cheaper to run in the long term than lower cost printers. Other advantages include larger paper trays as standard, and higher print capacity per month as well.
In fact, specifications have moved on so much that with today’s mid-range mono lasers, several printers can be replaced with just one relatively cheap model.
In the upcoming article, you’ll find detailed analysis of all our results, a boxout revealing what happened when we looked more closely at our own printer use at PC Authority, and reviews of six of the best value business laser printers around as well. To find out which suits your needs, read on.How we test and how we work out the ratings:
in this month’s Labs, we’ve focused on mono laser printers for the office costing up to $1500.
As such, the devices are bigger, faster, and offer even better value than July issue’s cheap personal lasers, but there’s still plenty of variety on offer.
And the range of features should satisfy any small-to-medium-sized office.Printers for business
In considering the awards we give out, we take into account the typical usage for each printer.
All of the laser printers here are intended for business use, so we’ve focused on the features likely to prove useful to IT managers and small-business users.
These printers are high-speed machines, so they should have maximum monthly duty cycles to match, plus capacious paper trays.
There’s no point in a printer being able to churn out the copies at 30 to 40 pages per minute if you have to restock the paper tray several times a day.
We also place an emphasis on expansion options, a good warranty and networking; that said, we don’t mark down printers without a network module too heavily, as all of the printers we review this month can be upgraded with one.
Plus, with all of those pages pumping out, the last thing you want to be doing is replacing toner every week and paying through the nose for replacements, so high-capacity cartridges are a must.Standard tests
While our assessments are based on a printer’s target market, we put every printer through a standard series of print tests in order to determine each product’s speed and quality.
For our first test, we time how long each printer takes to output 50 copies of an ISO standard single-page business letter.
The document features a small red graphic in the corner, but this is obviously produced in greyscale on these monochrome laser printers.
We then ask the printers to produce ten copies of a slightly more complicated five-page ISO newsletter – a test that includes black text on a variety of coloured backgrounds (again, printed in greyscale), plus coloured graphs and photos – to expose the speed difference between plain-text speeds and more complex graphics-heavy content.
Next, we print a range of tables, charts and DTP layouts from Excel, Word and Adobe Acrobat Reader.
|Test data: click on image for larger size|
Unlike the first two tests these documents don’t involve any repeated pages, revealing whether print speed is affected by the printer having to process each page image afresh, rather than reproducing a page multiple times.
We print our 24-page Word DTP document using the automatic duplexer (if included) to find out how much speed drops in this mode. Finally, we send our quality print tests to each printer.
These consist of two standard high-resolution montages consisting of detailed photographs, shades, gradients and text at a range of sizes.
|Feature table: click on image for full size|
Browse this article:
This Group Test appeared in the September, 2009 issue of PC & Tech Authority Magazine