The Canon ImageClass LBP612Cdw review at Computer ShopperCanon’s ImageClass laser printers, such as the $279-MSRP Color ImageClass LBP612Cdw ($204.52 at Amazon) we’re reviewing here today, typically print well, at a reasonably fast clip, and with little fuss. That all holds for this little stand-alone (print-only) model. As you may be able to tell from the price, the LBP612Cdw is an entry-level machine, in this case designed for small offices and workgroups, or perhaps as a personal color laser printer. ($279 is very little money for a color laser printer, and we’ve seen this one, at this writing, marked down under $200 from some e-tailers.)

In fact, we found only two things to question on this little printer: a too-small paper-input tray and a too-high cost per page. We’ll talk more about input capacity later on, as well as get into the specifics concerning running costs. In general, though, it’s not unusual for small laser printers like this one to have a relatively high per-page cost of toner; high enough that, we think, they may be pricing themselves out of the market. Why? Because, if the color-fast printing and precision on small fonts isn’t exactly what you need (the usual strengths of lasers), you can find several lower-priced inkjet models out there that print as well as (and sometimes better than) these entry-level laser-based machines, at lower costs per page.

But if laser is what you’re focused on archival or permanency issues, this budget ImageClass model is a nice sample in its price range. The ImageClass LBP612Cdw is light, small, and easy to manage, and it prints very well, too. The big sticking point is what you’ll pay for the toner to feed it versus certain inkjets. Canon’s own $149.99-list Maxify iB4120, ($129.99 at Amazon) for instance, is a small-business-minded inkjet that provides many of the same qualities (it’s a stand-alone printer, not an all-in-one), with running costs about a third of those of its laser cousin. Another such example is the HP Officejet Pro 8210,  ($105.95 at Amazon) another highly capable inkjet-based “laser alternative.” As we’ll calculate out later in this review, if you use your printer often, the difference in running costs alone could save you plenty of money over the life of the printer.

Now, of course, some applications, such as HIPAA-regulated medical offices and facilities, as well as some government offices, require laser-printed output (using toner, rather than ink), and in those cases, sometimes all you can do is bite the toner bullet—or, if you print more than a few hundred pages per month, opt for a higher-volume laser model. You may pay more for the printer, but a (sometimes much) lower cost per page will not only make up for that expenditure, but also start saving you a bundle before long.

Which brings us back to Canon’s ImageClass LBP612Cdw. The bottom line is that this is a nice little printer for environments where you need high-quality laser output in scaled-down fashion (say, no more than a couple of hundred pages per month). From that perspective—in which you don’t print enough for the money spent on consumables matters much—we have no problem recommending the ImageClass LBP612Cdw as a low-volume color laser for home or small offices, or as an entry-level personal machine.

Read the entire review at Computer Shopper