We’ve been looking at Dell’s Venue line of Android tablets (not to be confused with “Venue Pro,” the company’s Windows slates) for a few years now. It wasn’t, however, until February 2015’s review of the premium Venue 8 7000 that we really began to take notice of the family. Prior to the 7000 series, Dell’s Venue tablets were, for the most part, ho-hum, budget-friendly models not much different from many others on the market.
With the 7000 models, though, came a revelation. They had aluminum chassis, ultra-high-res displays, high-end sound and other hardware, and Intel’s RealSense 3D camera technology—in other words, a complete reversal, going from entry-level to premium, from previous Venue models. And now, with the $499-MSRP Venue 10 7000 Series, Dell elevates the Venue brand to an all-new level of performance and elegance.
We tested model 7040 in the new 10-inch family. As you’ll see in our Features section later on, in addition to RealSense, this Venue 10 kept many of the features that made the $399-list Venue 8 7000 such an interesting tablet. Meanwhile, this ultra-high-end slate is available at Dell.com in four configurations, starting with a stand-alone tablet with 16GB of storage at $499.
After that comes another stand-alone version, with 32GB of storage, at $549, followed by a combination tablet/keyboard dock with 16GB of storage ($629). Finally, there is the flagship configuration (our review unit), model 7040, with the keyboard dock and 32GB of storage for $679.
Okay, for starters: You’re probably thinking that every one of the above prices is way high for an Android tablet, and you’re right if you look at the field. Normally, we’d agree with you, but this Venue is, like a few other premium slates we’ve seen (such as Samsung’s Galaxy Tab S 10.5 and Sony’s Xperia Tablet Z2), in a word, elegant. Part of being elegant, of course, is the ability to command a high price. Also part of the deal: that you perform well. Like the Venue 8 7000 before it, as we’ll discuss in the Performance section later on, the Intel Atom-based Venue 10 7040 did rather well on our battery of benchmark tests—especially our demanding battery-rundown test, which is a further key attribute of a premium tablet.
Unlike the Venue 8 7000, though, this Venue has several hardware features beyond an elegant appearance and 3D camera, starting with a barrel attached to the bottom edge. Somewhat reminiscent of the grip on Lenovo’s Yoga tablets, this not only holds the unit’s speakers, but also its battery, and it acts as the bulkier part of the hinge for attaching the tablet’s matching keyboard dock. All of that we’ll discuss in more detail next in the section.
Meanwhile, each time we review one of these high-end Android slates, the question that inevitably arises is, is all this high-end hardware and elegant design worth the additional expense, considering that you can buy a not-so-fancy tablet for much less, or an Apple iPad for around the same bucks? Well, one mitigating factor: We are not seeing nearly as many new full-size (9-inch screen and above) Android models anymore, and especially not 10.5-inch slates like this one. Lately, 10-inch-class tablets have become somewhat scarce, and most of them are higher-end models like this one. (One of the most significant additions to the class is actually a Windows model: Microsoft’s high-profile Surface 3, with a 10.8-inch screen and starting at the same $499.)
Even so, we’ve looked at and tested most or all of them, and few measure up to this Venue. Dell’s Venue 10 7000 Series, especially the two models bundled with Dell’s slick keyboard dock, is an impressive Android—even a suitable now-and-then laptop replacement for folks willing to settle for a 10.5-inch display.
Read entire review at Computer Shopper
For some years now, we’ve squawked that laser and laser-class LED printers were, in terms of their per-page cost of toner, getting too expensive to use. That’s not because they were doing anything different—in fact, the category has been rather steady, nay, stagnant, for some time. But in that period, business inkjets with aggressive ink costs have swooped in and taken away these printers’ lunch, and have their eyes on their milkshakes, too.
If OKI Data’s most recent round of laser-class printers are any indication, at least one printer maker has heard that warning, or at least seen the flock of inkjets circling overhead. In fact, more than one of that company’s most recent monochrome laser-class printers—among them the OKI B512dnwe reviewed back in April of this year—delivered a cost per page (CPP) for toner under 1 cent, given certain circumstances.
It’s good to see laser and LED printers showing signs of life here in 2015, and the Japanese imaging giant has surprised us again, here with its $199-MSRP B412bn Monochrome Printer—the first under-$200 laser-class printer we’ve seen that delivers an under-2-cent per-page cost. The B412dn is the smaller of a pair of single-function monochrome laser-class printers released recently, with the $349 B432dn being the other.
For the additional $150 in the B432dn, you get, among other things, an 80,000-page monthly duty cycle (versus 60,000 in the B412dn) and support for higher-yield (12,000-page) toner cartridges. (That latter factor, the bigger toner cartridge, allows for an even lower CPP.) The B432dn is also rated at 7 pages per minute (ppm) faster, or 42ppm versus 35ppm.
Aside from these somewhat minor differences, these two single-function models—as well as the much faster-rated (47ppm), higher-capacity (100,000-page monthly duty cycle), and much higher-priced ($499 MSRP) B512dn mentioned earlier—are essentially the same in size, appearance, and features. It all comes down to how much you print, and how much savings you might actually garner from a lower CPP. For some users, the slices of a penny per page saved with the B432dn versus the B412dn might be well worth the additional $150 over the long haul.
That said, then, if a midrange laser-class machine like this OKI is what you need, the only real question mark is your day-to-day print volume. To that end, we’ll take a somewhat detailed look at what all these numbers mean—in terms of actual cost and savings as they relate to this OKI.
Before moving on to the next section, though, we should clarify why we call this a “laser-class” printer, as opposed to a pure “laser” printer. Like many of today’s low-cost laser-class machines, this model does not use an actual scanning laser to trace the transfer of toner onto the drum and ultimately to the paper. Instead, it employs a fixed light-emitting diode (LED) array to perform essentially the same function.
The benefits of using this LED technology for printer makers are many, including lower costs, the ability to build smaller machines, and fewer moving parts. Printer users, on the other hand, get smaller, lighter machines that use less power, all else being equal.
Do we recommend the OKI B412dn? Well, for its price and size, we really liked this printer. However, some of OKI’s other models, such as the two mentioned above, may provide better value depending on your printing-volume needs. This one works from a value point of view under a set of narrow circumstances, governed primarily by how much and what you print. We’ll get into all of that over the course of this review.
Otherwise, though, this is a great entry-level printer for pure text output.
Read the entire review at Computer Shopper.
Intel has all its marketing eggs in the 2-in-1 basket nowadays, but it wasn’t always so. Almost four years ago, during the last half of 2011, the first round of svelte and elegant ultrabooks started showing up in our labs. One of the first companies on board was Asus, with its ZenBook line. We reviewed one of the 11.6-inch ZenBooks, the $1,199 model UX21E, in November 2011, and came away duly impressed with how light and compact it was, as well as how much it resembled Apple’s MacBook Air.
Since then, we’ve seen many ZenBooks, ranging in screen size from 11.6 inches to 15.6 inches. Most have been premium or at least upscale machines, such as the most recent, the ZenBook Pro UX501Best Price at Amazon with its 4K touch screen.
The ultrabook we’re reviewing today is something different. The ZenBook UX305FA is only 2.6 pounds, only 0.5 inch thin at the thick end of its wedge-shaped profile, and only $699, or $300 less than the cheapest 13.3-inch MacBook Air. What’s surprising, though, is how little you have to give up to get this low price. This ZenBook is not a cheaply configured laptop.
You get twice as much memory as the MacBook Air (8GB), for example, and twice as much solid-state storage (256GB). There’s a full HD (1,920×1,080) display panel. In addition, it doesn’t run on a low-power Celeron or Atom processor. Instead, as discussed in the Performance section later on, the UX305FA is powered by Intel’s low-wattage Core M processor, which enables a fanless design, letting the ZenBook run silently.
With its 0.8GHz Core M-5Y10, it also runs a little slower than competing models based on the 1.1GHz and 1.2GHz Core M CPUs, and slower still than machines built around laptop Core i5 and Core i7 processors.
Even so, as we found in our benchmarks, the ZenBook is not that slow—it’s fine for Microsoft Office and other productivity apps, though you wouldn’t want to run AutoCAD or Adobe Premiere on it. In addition, its slim, light, and highly attractive design makes it look and feel more elegant than its $699 price suggests. We found plenty to like about this laptop.
Read entire review at Computer Shopper
Starting with 2010’s HP Envy 100, the Envy line of inkjet all-in-one (AIO) printers—which can print, scan, and copy—has been one of the more interesting to watch evolve over the past few years. After the 2010 debut machine, consecutive models, such as 2011’s Envy 110 and 2013’s Envy 120, concentrated more on style and home-fitting elegance than on the more practical pursuits of what a printer needs to do.
As we pointed out in our July 2013 review of the Envy 5530 (one of the first Envys to break with the Envy-printer trend of style before substance), those first Envys, especially the Envy 120, were more fashion statements than nimble office appliances. When it came to capacity and practicality, they were really no more than entry-level AIOs, despite their elegant appearances and relatively high prices.
What we liked least about the early Envys, though, was how much they cost on a per-page basis to use. But then this has been true of all Envy-brand printers, including the much less costly Envy 5530 AIO. The good news here is that, as you’ll see in the Setup & Paper Handling section later on, the latest Envy AIO (and topic of this review), the $149.99-MSRP Envy 5660 e-All-in-One Printer$74.99 at HP, doesn’t have the same ink-price issue anymore—at least, with the advent of HP’s Instant Ink program, and assuming you sign up for it.
Even so, understand that this is a low-volume printer designed to churn out only a few hundred pages—at most—each month. HP’s ink program allows printer users who don’t print much to realize reasonable per-page ink costs, compared to the off-the-chart-high cost per page when buying ink cartridges off the shelf. And that’s a big feather in the value cap of this Envy model, as well as most (or all) of HP’s other low-volume, entry-level printers.
Still, like its predecessor the Envy 5530, the Envy 5560 has no automatic document feeder (ADF) for feeding multipage documents to the scanner without user intervention. Instead, you must load your originals one page at a time, scan each one, and, if they’re double-sided, turn them over by hand and scan them again, repeating the process for each page.
A problem, then, for this Envy model is that some of the other major inkjet-printer makers, such as Epson with its comparably priced WorkForce WF-2660 All-in-One Printer ($99, factoring in a $50 discount that was available when we wrote this), offer ADFs and more in some of their like-priced models. As you’ll see later on, though, this HP model does print somewhat better photos than most business-oriented AIOs, in the event that’s important to you.
Really, though, if you need to do heavy-duty document processing, with the Envys you’re looking in the wrong place altogether. In the past, our main objection to this Envy would have been its high cost per page (CPP), but as mentioned, HP’s Instant Ink program makes buying ink a much more reasonably priced prospect. In fact, it goes a long way toward evening up the playing field between this entry-level model and higher-volume inkjets designed to print thousands of pages each month (at, of course, a much lower cost per page).
The savings that Instant Ink can bring—under the right circumstances—make this budget-minded Envy much easier to recommend, more so than any previous Envy, to users who don’t print much, or make many copies. It has a secret weapon when paired with Instant Ink: super-cheap printed photos.
Read the entire review at Computer Shopper
When it comes to wireless keyboards, or keyboard-and-mouse combo sets (also known as “wireless desktops”), most people think of Logitech and its many retail-friendly, budget bundles it has offered over the years, as well as Microsoft, perhaps, and its often ergonomically focused gear. On the other hand, one of the oldest (and one of the standards-bearers among desktop input-device makers) is Cherry, a German company.
Cherry has been manufacturing wireless keyboards, mice, and keyboard-and-pointing-device bundles for quite some time. But you may not have known it, because most of the stuff is meant for the professional and office markets.
Cherry’s also known for setting industry standards in input devices. It’s best known to consumers as the maker of the seminal Cherry MX mechanical key switches, the mechanisms that come in a small assortment of types (Cherry MX Blue, MX Red, and the like) and lie under the keytops of many of today’s best and priciest gaming and productivity keyboards for desktop PCs. The thing that may be confusing: Cherry makes lots of its own branded keyboards, but they don’t all, by a long shot, use those premium Cherry MX mechanical switches. In fact, most don’t.
Cherry offers a keyboard or combo set for lots of different categories of computing, including point of sale (POS), healthcare, government, and industrial, as well as yet another broad category, “professional,” which can, of course, mean just about anything. But what Cherry means, in this case, are professional typists, writers, data-entry professionals—people who use their input devices essentially to make a living. And for a subset of them—users who need to rely on bulletproof data security in data entry—the company offers up its $97-MSRP B.Unlimited AES desktop set. (It’s also known as the “Cherry Professional Wireless Rechargeable Desktop Set B.Unlimited AES.”)
So what, besides responsive, comfortable keys and an accurate, ergonomic mouse, does a professional need? Well, that certainly depends on what kind of professional you are. If you work in healthcare, where personal info is sacrosanct and subject to regulations, or in professions where you can’t even tell your spouse exactly what you do, locking down your data input at every possible weak point in the computing chain may matter to you. If that’s you, according to Cherry your relatively expensive professional desktop set should be Advanced Encryption Standard (AES) compliant, which secures the wireless signal between keyboard and receiver.
This keyboard/mouse set is also rechargable, which is well and good, but a $100 wireless-desktop set should be, we think, also comfortable and complete by default. While overall this is a well-built, high-end set, it provides little in the way of wrist support or other ergonomic features that you may see in other such bundles from Microsoft or Logitech.
Even so, we found Cherry’s B.Unlimited desktop set had decent key feel and felt sturdy, and the unusual AES angle makes it a good fit for security-minded, can’t-fail environments.
Read the entire review at Computer Shopper.
With its Business Smart, Business Smart Plus, and Business Smart Professional Series families of printer, Brother was one of the first printer makers to support wide-format printing in a big way in multifunction inkjets for consumers and small businesses. Whether it’s simply printing the occasional oversize document, or delivering the ability to scan, copy, fax, and print them, a subset of these business-oriented all-in-ones (AIOs) adroitly handle tabloid, or 11×17-inch, pages at prices usually reserved for models that support paper no larger than letter- or legal-size.
The topic of this review, Brother’s $229.99-MSRP MFC-J6520DW, is one of these wide-load-capable models in the Brother line. A Professional Series model, the MFC-J6520DW does it all. It not only supports printing to tabloid-size stock, but because the scanner and the automatic document feeder (ADF) also support 11×17-inch pages, you can also scan, copy, and fax pages that big. (When you fax, of course, the document gets reduced on the receiving end if need be, since most receiving fax machines will be letter- or legal-size only.)
Unlike the other major makers of inkjet printers, which by now have all come out with a wide-format model or two of their own, nearly all of Brother’s business-centric models support tabloid printing. We’ve reviewed several of them, including the MFC-J6520DW’s higher-volume sibling, theMFC-J6920DW, a late-2013 Editors’ Choice recipient that’s still going strong on the market.
Over the past couple of years, though, we’ve seen business-centric wide-format models from both Epson and HP, such as the WorkForce WF-7610 All-in-One and Officejet 7610 Wide Format e-All-in-One, respectively. (Canon’s most recent wide-format inkjet model, the Pixma iX6820, is a very different animal, a single-function photo printer.) However, while these two machines have several features in common with our Brother machine under review, they also differ in some very significant ways.
Both the Epson and HP wide-format models, for example, additionally support a slightly larger page size, the next size up from tabloid at 13×19 inches, also known as “supertabloid” or A3+. (We say “slightly larger,” but the fact is that supertabloid pages contain 60 inches of additional surface area versus tabloid.)
While support for these even larger papers may not matter to everybody, a feature we really like about this Brother multifunction model is its low per-page operational cost—the cost per page, or CPP. As you’ll see in the Setup & Paper Handling section later on, compared to other wide-format printers, this one is relatively inexpensive in terms of ink upkeep, making it an ideal candidate for high-volume print runs of both standard letter-size andtabloid pages.
Unlike the costlier MFC-J6920DW, though, we had a few concerns about this model that left it just shy of a Computer Shopper Editors’ Choice high-five. As we discuss in the Setup & Paper Handling section later on, there are some significant, perhaps obvious, drawbacks to a wide-format printer with only one paper-input tray. In addition, the MFC-J6520DW doesn’t print photos as well as some of the other wide-format models we’ve talked about here so far.
But, then again, reconsider that this printer is part of Brother’s Business Smart Professional Series, as we mentioned earlier. Not all business printing calls for stellar photograph reproduction, and, frankly, this printer’s low CPPs, as we see it, should make stomaching the slightly subpar image rendering easier.
Overall, we liked this printer, but its somewhat limited paper-handling abilities might make it a better pick as a dedicated tabloid printer for light-to-moderate oversize output, as opposed to a general-purpose office machine. In any case, the MFC-J6520DW prints wide-format pages on the relative cheap, and that should be attractive to a wide range of small offices and workgroups.
Read the entire review at Computer Shopper
Have you read any of our reviews of Epson’s latest round of PrecisionCore-based WorkForce printers, especially the WorkForce Pro models (notably, our Editors’ Choice recipient, the WorkForce Pro WF-4630 All-in-One Printer)? Then you know that, generally speaking, we’re fans of these models. We’ve liked the lower-volume, non-Pro WorkForce models we’ve tested, too. But like so many entry-level and midrange all-in-one printers (AIOs) that print, copy, scan, and fax, we were put off by these current-generation models’ per-page cost of ink.
Alas, that’s often the price you pay when opting for one of the budget-friendly models in an inkjet line. But then again, many small and home-based offices simply don’t need to print more than, say, 50 or 100 pages per month. Because of that, the office just doesn’t need, nor can it justify buying, a cheaper-to-use, higher-volume model.
When you’re printing so little each month, what each page costs you—within reason, of course—isn’t quite as important. That’s especially true if the machine otherwise prints well and delivers a wide range of productivity and convenience features. (Of course, all this begs the question of why inkjet-printer makers can’t seem to deliver low-cost inkjets that also deliver a very low cost per page, but that should be obvious: It’s the business model for these printers.)
So, with that in mind, enter Epson’s $149.99-MSRP WorkForce WF-2660 All-in-One Printer, a low-volume multifunction printer. While most certainly an inexpensive all-in-one meant for light duty, this little office-centric model, as you’ll see in the Design & Features section on the next page, has more features than we’ve seen on most inkjet printers, period, let alone a model this small and low-cost.
When we wrote this review in early May 2015, the WorkForce WF-2660 was the top model (and most expensive) of three in Epson’s WorkForce WF-2600 series. The WorkForce WF-2660 and its siblings are the smallest WorkForce AIOs the company offers, and therefore also the smallest printers available based on Epson’s relatively new (mid-2014) PrecisionCore printhead technology, which has been confined to its business-oriented printers so far. As we’ve explained in several recent WorkForce printer reviews, in addition to providing several other benefits, PrecisionCore-based printers so far have proven to be relatively fast at their price points, and they print quite well on the whole.
In any case, in addition to the WorkForce WF-2660, with this line you can choose either the $99.99-MSRP WorkForce WF-2630 or the $129.99-MSRP WorkForce WF-2650. Before going into what these cost differences get you, we should first point out that as we wrote this in May 2015, all three models were discounted heavily from those list prices on Epson’s Web site, as well as elsewhere. Shop around, and you could save $30 on the WorkForce WF-2630, $40 on the WorkForce WF-2650, and $50 on our review unit, the WorkForce WF-2660, making the bottom-line prices $69.99, $89.99, and $99.99, respectively.
At these markdown prices, for the $10 difference between the WF-2660 and the WF-2650 you actually give up a lot: a 2.7-inch color touch screen for a four-line monochrome readout, as well as support for Near-Field Communication (NFC) and a few other mobile-connectivity features. The cheaper-still WorkForce WF-2630 is slower by Epson’s estimates by about 4 pages per minute (with black-and-white output) and 3 pages per minute (with color), and its input tray is 50 pages less capacious. But then again, bear in mind that its sale price is only $70, and that for a full-fledged AIO.
We like the WorkForce WF-2660 much more at the under-$100 price point than at its $149.99 list price. As we will get into in the Setup & Paper Handling sections later on, while we’re not at all thrilled with the cost per page (CPP) of the WorkForce WF-2660, if you don’t plan to print or copy on it all that much, its Swiss Army knife-like feature set and exceptional print quality make it a great little printer for occasional use, and a good value in that role. You may not use it often, but when you need to, it will most likely have everything you’ll need to complete the task at hand.
Before going too deeply into the WorkForce WF-2660’s design and features, we should say that when it comes to a well-rounded feature set, all that this AIO really needs is an auto-duplexing automatic document feeder, or ADF. Yes, it has a 30-sheet ADF, and a good one. But alas, in order to scan two-sided originals (i.e., to capture the second sides of the pages), you must manually turn over your stack of pages being scanned.
To be fair, it’s not that we can realistically expect to see an auto-duplexing ADF on an entry-level model like this one—that is what step-up models are for! —but it would have been a nice touch, rounding out the feature set in a way that might have offset some of the sting of this printer’s very high CPP.
Read the entire review at Computer Shopper
We seldom review printers that have already been on the market for well over three years, primarily because—well, most printers don’tstay on the market that long. By then, most have long since been discontinued, renamed, or replaced. Four years is an eternity in the evolution of printer technology. Here in 2015, we can look back on 2011 and see a very different landscape. For example, HP PageWide technology was still a gleam in an engineer’s eye; cheap wide-format printers were nowhere to be found; and the idea of a “high-volume” business inkjet was a borderline oxymoron.
Even so, now and then, we run across the rare machine that does what it does so well that it seems impervious to advances in convenience, connectivity features, and printhead technology. One of these is the subject of our review today: Canon’s $1,000-MSRP Pixma Pro-1 Professional Photo Inkjet Printer.
A little while back, we reviewed the company’s $500-MSRP Pixma Pro-100, a fine printer for photo pros. This one, though, is a notch or three up the food chain, both in print quality and features. What makes this printer doubly impressive is that it has held up well enough over time to maintain its premium price. When we wrote this in late April 2015, we were unable to find it anywhere online for less than $999.99, a whopping penny less than its list price. That’s especially surprising in a business that uses the discount-off-MSRP as the favorite implement in its marketing toolbox. In fact, as we wrote this in late-April 2015, some outlets sold the Pro-1 for $100 to 200 overlist price—a phenomenon that suggests excellent quality and value (or a unique product, which is not the case here), or a dedicated following.
Why has the Pixma Pro-1 been such a hit? Put simply, its superb print quality has made it a favorite among photographers (professional ones, and would-be professionals), artists, and dedicated hobbyists alike. It’s capable of printing impeccably detailed, vibrant, and accurately colored images and artwork. And it can handle any reasonable paper size, with stock ranging from 4×6-inch snapshots up to 13×19-inch “supertabloid” (otherwise known as A3+) photos, flyers, and posters.
In other words, it serves its target market exceptionally well for the price. That said, were this a standard business-centric or consumer-grade machine, aside from its ability to churn out superb oversize photos and artwork, nearly everything about it would be wrong.
It’s not price-competitive, it’s heavy, and it’s huge. It uses 12—that’s not a typo, 12—relatively costly ink tanks. And, to get the best results, you’ll want to feed it pricey, premium-grade photo and display-art paper—especially when you get into the larger tabloid (11×17-inch) and supertabloid sizes.
Yes, the Pixma Pro-1 can use standard copy paper, and yes, itcan turn out excellent-looking business documents, but that’s like feeding your Lamborghini Aventador a steady diet of ethanol and making it your train-station car. It completely misses the point of this type of printer. You buy it because you want it specifically to do what it does best.
Still, as mentioned, it’s not your only choice for this kind of printing. Canon’s Pixma Pro line of professional photo printers, which includes the Pixma Pro-1, the $699.99-MSRP and the $499.99 MSRP Pro-100, is an A-list family in this market, but it’s not the only one. Epson’s popular Stylus and more-recent SureColor professional photo printers are comparably priced and, as discussed in the Setup & Paper Handling section later on, provide in some cases much more versatile paper handling. Many of Epson’s and HP’s professional photo printers, for instance, have the ability to print on rolls of high-quality photo paper. In the case of Epson’s SureColor P600 Wide Format Inkjet Printer we reviewed a few weeks back, you can print borderless banners nearly 11 feet long. (Whether you have a use for that is another matter!) There are things the Pixma Pro-1, as versatile as it is, cannot do.
Usually, we evaluate printers from the point of view of speed, cost of use, and productivity/convenience features, with print quality being just one of many important factors. While price and cost of use are not irrelevant, they don’t matter as much here as do print-quality and paper-handling prowess. Compared to some other professional photo printers, this one lacks some important paper-handling features, but as you’ll see in our discussion on the last page of this review, the Pixma Pro-1 has some unique options of its own.
Obviously, the Pixma Pro-1 isn’t for everybody. In fact, it’s hard to imagine a printer sold to consumers whose appeal might be more niche-ified than this one. Whether it’s right for you depends flat-out on the nature of your photography or artwork: How serious are you about it, and how big do you need it? And, just as important, can you afford to feed the Pixma Pro-1 what it needs?
If it’s a fit, however, you can rest assured that few, if any, wide-format professional photo printers turn out better-looking prints than this one does. Be prepared to be dazzled.
Read entire review at Computer Shopper
Inkjet printers that only print have become a rare breed. While single-function laser-class printers still abound, we can’t say the same about single-function inkjets. Shop around for a consumer or small-business inkjet, even at the very low end, and you’ll quickly realize that the market has been taken over by cost-efficient all-in-one (AIO) models.
Over the past year or two, though, we’ve seen a few single-function inkjets slip out from the major printer makers. This kind of printer has become uncommon enough that those models made us sit up and take notice. They include Canon’s Maxify iB4020, HP’s higher-end Officejet Pro X551dw Color Printer (based on its innovative PageWide technology), and the topic of this review, Epson’s PrecisionCore-based $199.99 WorkForce WF-7110 Inkjet Printer.
The first two printers are all about the high-volume output of letter-size pages. The WF-7110 is a different beast altogether, though: Of these three single-function printers, only this WorkForce model prints wide-format pages up to 13×19 inches, a size also known as supertabloid. Unfortunately, like most other wide-format printers priced for consumers and small businesses, the WorkForce WF-7110 also has a relatively high operational cost—what we call the cost per page, or CPP—especially when you compare it to a bunch of other like-priced, high-volume inkjets on the market. (We’ll look more closely at the nuances of this printer’s CPP in the Setup & Paper Handling section later on.)
Like the midrange laser-class printers that this model and its competitors are designed to compete with, this WorkForce model is built to sit there and churn out copious bunches of pages. That’s clear from two things: its paper handling, and its maximum duty cycle. (The maximum duty cycle is the number of pages the manufacturer says you can print each month without wearing out the machine prematurely.) The maximum duty cycle on the WF-7110 is a surprising 20,000 pages per month. Also, as you’ll see in some detail later on, the WorkForce WF-7110 has two good-size input sources, with paper drawers configurable to hold sheets ranging from 3.5×5-inch photo paper to supertabloid copy stock for documents and photo paper for borderless prints up to 13×19 inches. Often, the borderless treatment on an image, a flyer, or a brochure can mean the difference between a professional- and an amateur-looking job.
In short, the WorkForce WF-7110 appears to be designed for versatility and volume—but the volume part of the equation is going to sail onto the rocks of the cost per page. As we’ve pointed out in previous reviews of wide-format inkjets, such as HP’s Officejet 7610 Wide Format e-All-in-One, most wide-format printers have a higher cost per page than their like-priced letter-size counterparts. For the most part, though, most wide-format printers have similar CPPs to each other. HP’s similarly priced Officejet 7610, for instance, delivers about the same CPPs as this one, especially when you’re talking about black-and-white pages.
Furthermore, several of Brother’s numerous office-oriented wide-format printers, such as the MFC-J6920DW, have significantly lower CPPs. But, then, they can’t print 13×19-inch pages, only “plain” tabloid-size ones at 11×17 inches. (In the printer world, the termwide-format encompasses both sizes.) As is often the case with midrange printers, even though they’re capable of printing great-looking pages at highly competitive speeds, their per-page cost of operation makes them money pits for all but limited duty—beyond, say, a couple hundred pages per month.
As a result, the WorkForce WF-7110 is a role-filler, not the one-size-fits-all printer it might appear to be. Under the right circumstances, this model can be a great fit. But if your office requires high-volume output and wide-format output, there are better choices—perhaps an alternate 11×17-inch-capable model, or possibly a printer like the WorkForce WF-7110 paired with a second printer for the volume work.
Read the entire review at Computer Shopper.
“Lasers! We’re under attack!” That might be our headline here, were we writing a cheesy 1950s sci-fi epic, not a laser-printer review. But, nonetheless, that’s a pretty accurate summary of affairs in the laser-printer market nowadays.
We’ve been saying for some time that, on the value front, high-volume inkjet printers have been edging out entry-level and midrange laser models. That’s happened for a number of reasons. Among them? Better-than-ever text printing from the inkjets (and, as ever, superior photo printing), plus competitive per-page costs for consumables.
In short, recent business-class inkjets went and cut away two of the major reasons that companies opted for laser- or laser-class printers in the first place. And laser makers have been scrambling of late to catch up.
Every now and then, though, we come across a laser-class machine that upholds the old-school laser tradition of aggressively priced consumables and excellent print quality. One of them is the topic of this review, OKI Data’s $499-list B512dn Monochrome Printer.
This is a printer clearly meant for churning loads of plain document pages, given that OKI tags it with a healthy 100,000-page maximum monthly duty cycle. (That’s the recommendation for the most pages you should run through this printer in a given month. Of course, you’ll need a forklift for all that paper delivered at once.) That rating, paired with the excellent text-print quality and a cost per page (CPP) of under 1.5 cents, made a fine impression on us. It’s not all that often anymore that we run across laser-class output in a new printer at this competitive a CPP.
That said, this OKI printer’s only real flaw—its somewhat slow print speed—offsets its appealing qualities a bit. After all, if you mean to print thousands of pages a month, it’s going to take thatmuch more time. But it’s not a deal-killer unless you mean to max out this laser-class printer, all day, every day.
Notice that we refer to the OKI B512dn as a “laser-class” printer, rather than simply a laser printer. We do so because this is not a “true” laser printer, in a sense. A classic laser printer deploys an actual laser mechanism inside to draw the page image to be printed onto the printer’s drum. (The drum, charged by the laser in that pattern, then attracts toner and transfers it to the page.) OKI’s model is more accurately termed an LED-based printer. An LED printer works similarly to a laser, but it charges the page image onto the drum with a fixed array of light-emitting diodes (LEDs).
The reason for using an LED array instead of a scanning laser is simple: LEDs cost less. Substituting LEDs for lasers also allows printer manufacturers to make smaller and lighter printers with fewer moving parts. All else being equal, LED models tend to cost less to manufacture than their laser counterparts, too. Aside from the economics involved, LED-based printers look from the outside very much the same as laser devices do, and they function and act identically, too; hence, the “laser-class” name. Unless you dismantled the printer, you’d likely never know the difference.
We like the per-page economics on this OKI printer, but overall, as modern printers go, this one is a little thin on features. According to OKI, it’s really designed to sit there and churn out page after page of text at a rate of up to 45 pages per minute. (More on that later.) Out of the box, though, it has no wireless connectivity (that feature costs extra), and it supports only a smattering of mobile-printing features.
As we’ve pointed out in many recent reviews, fewer businesses today—especially smaller ones—rely as much as before on single-function, monochrome laser-class printers, one reason being that their now-more-economical inkjet counterparts print nicer graphics and images, and in color. However, there will always be those offices that, for one reason or another, require laser output and don’t care about image printing. Think about all those tire shops, doctors’ offices, and other places of business and points of sale that require short black-and-white documents and receipts in a jiffy.
The good news about the OKI B512dn is that it can serve these needs and more while keeping a light touch on your budget. And that’s a huge part of what we expect from a high-volume printer—and what can make one a success. A printer like the OKI B512dn may be light on frills, but you don’t fault a bulldozer for pushing through big jobs and delivering muscle where it is needed—and that’s what this printer does with monochrome documents.
Read the entire review at Computer Shopper.