With all of the innovation going on in information technology these days, printers may not be the sexiest set of gear, but they remain one of the bedrocks. An absolute in the printer market nowadays is that, no matter what you pay for it—from $50 to $1,000 or more—your single-function or multifunction machine should print at least passably well, and it should perform like a champ—in terms of mechanical functionality, if not necessarily speed. Those are 2017’s printer table stakes.

Computer Shopper's Top 100 Tech Products of 2017: Printers

From small or home-based offices to huge enterprises and workgroups, an ongoing trend in printer technology over the past several years has been mobile connectivity—printing from and scanning to your smartphone, tablet, or laptop from virtually anywhere and everywhere. The year 2017 continues that trend, as well as the ongoing ink wars, in which printer makers promote various technologies and programs for providing lower-cost ink (or at least the illusion of it), especially among lower-end consumer and small-office all-in-ones (AIOs). The reality is that ink’s not really any cheaper, but these products do provide a lot more transparency into what it actually costs to keep your printer inked up.

Read the entire article at PCMag



 

Review of the Epson DS-780N Network Color Document Scanner at PCMag

  • PROS

    Networkable via Ethernet. Huge color touch screen control panel. 100-sheet ADF. Control panel supports up to 30 configurable users. Wide security options.

  • CONS

    Somewhat costly. No Wi-Fi or Wi-Fi Direct for mobile connectivity.

  • BOTTOM LINE

    The networkable scans relatively quickly and accurately, and it has a huge customizable color touch screen, but it’s overshadowed by some less costly competition.

Similar in features to the Editors’ Choice Brother ImageCenter ADS-3600W ($709.27 at Amazon), the mid-to-high-volume Epson DS-780N Network Color Document Scanner ($1,099.99) ($780.00 at Amazon) is designed for use in small- to medium-size offices and workgroups that need to do a fair amount of document scanning and archiving. It’s not quite as fast as the Brother model, and it doesn’t support wireless networking. It’s competitively accurate, has an intuitive, highly useful touch screen, and comes with efficient document management software, making it a strong alternative to the ADS-3600W, as well as a few other networkable document scanners we’ve reviewed recently. Its price causes it to fall just short of our Editors’ Choice nod, but otherwise the DS-780N is a fine document scanner.
Read entire review at PCMag


  • Review of the Ricoh SP 5300DN Black and White Laser Printer at PCMagPROS

    Reasonably fast. Good print quality overall. Multiple paper capacity and other expansion options. High, 250,000-page duty cycle. Strong security features. High-yield toner cartridge. Very low running costs.

  • CONS

    Expensive, with costly add-ons. Small, unimpressive control panel. Graphics and photos print slightly too dark.

  • BOTTOM LINE

    The Ricoh SP 5300DN is a highly capable high-volume single-function monochrome laser printer that produces quality output at reasonably fast speeds, and its low running costs make it a good value for offices that print in volume.

Similar in features, speed, and capacity options to our Editors’ Choice Dell Smart Printer S5830dn ($641.71 at Amazon), the Ricoh SP 5300DN Black and White Laser Printer ($1,229) ($767.77 at Amazon) is a single-function laser printer designed for medium- to high-volume printing in small to midsize offices and workgroups. The Ricoh 5300DN costs a little more than the Dell S5830dn, but it’s significantly smaller and lighter and has more expansion options, and it costs less to use. On the other hand, during testing, graphics and photo output came out slightly subpar—just enough to keep it from receiving our Editors’ Choice nod. Not enough, though, to keep the Ricoh 5300DN from being an excellent choice for churning out thousands of documents each month in busy, high-volume settings.

Read the entire review at PCMag



 

  • PROS

    Reasonably fast. Excellent print quality. Strong paper expansion capacity. High-yield toner cartridge. Very low running costs. Strong security features.

  • CONS

    Expensive printer and add-ons. Fax, OCR, and Wi-Fi cost extra. ADF duplexer is not single-pass.

  • BOTTOM LINE

    The Ricoh MP 501SPF monochrome laser AIO comes with a wealth of top-drawer features and expansion options. It prints capably, fast, and at a very low cost per page, but the printer itself will cost you.

Price: $2,096.73
Was: $2,225.20
Designed for midsize to large offices and workgroups, the RicohBlack and White Laser Multifunction Printer ($3,499) ($2,096.73 at Amazon) means business—and then some. Out of the box it comes with a richer feature set and greater functionality than your average high-volume monochrome laser all-in-one (AIO), and if it doesn’t do what you want by default, rest assured, there’s an add-on that can.In addition to printing well, and fast, everything about the 501SPF—its huge monthly duty cycle, highly expandable high-capacity paper input, tablet-size touch screen control panel, 350GB hard drive, and incredibly low cost per page—screams high-volume. Even so, too many of the most useful and more common features, such as Wi-Fi, fax, and optical character recognition (OCR), are (often expensive) add-ons, given its lofty price, which is just enough to preclude it from gaining our Editors’ Choice nod. Aside from that, though, the 501SPF is a highly capable and sophisticated high-volume monochrome laser printer.
Read the entire review at PCMag


 

As we’ve noted before, there are a lot of single-function and multifunction, or all-in-one (AIO), monochrome laser printers in the world. Over the past year or so, we’ve looked at several from Brother, Canon, HP, Dell, Oki Data, Samsung, and Xerox, and haven’t come close to reviewing them all. And there are still more models from other manufacturers not listed above, one of them being a long-established maker of laser printers and other office equipment worldwide—Ricoh. Today’s review model, the $455-list Ricoh SP 377SFNwX Black and White Laser Multifunction Printer ($323.60 at Amazon) at Amazon), is the first of a few Ricoh machines that we’ll be reviewing soon.

Paying just under $500 usually gets you a midrange, medium-volume monochrome laser AIO. The 377SFNwX’s price positions it between Brother’s MFC-L5700DW  ($301.03 at Amazon) and Canon’s ImageClass D1550 ($378.95 at Amazon); however, the Ricoh’s 30,000-page maximum monthly duty cycle suggests that it’s less capable by several thousand pages than these and other closely priced monochrome laser AIOs, including the Brother MFC-L6800DW ($593.46 at Amazon) and Canon ImageClass D1520.($354.99 at Amazon) Unless, that is, you evaluate them from a different number, the recommended monthly volume, which in most cases is a much more relevant figure. The Ricoh model’s 5,800-page recommended volume is more than a couple of thousand pages higher than most of the other monochrome AIOs mentioned here.

Despite its lower duty cycle, as you’ll see in the Cost Per Page section later, the 377SFNwX delivers lower running costs than most other midrange monochrome laser AIOs, which, if you’re printing thousands of pages each month, is a very important consideration. Also important is how well the AIO prints. Although during our tests our Ricoh review unit churned out graphics and photos slightly darker than we like, its overall print quality is quite good, especially when printing text.

Ricoh SP 377SFNwX (Left Angled)

As you’ll see in the Design & Features section coming up next, the 377SFNwX is also significantly smaller and lighter than most of the AIOs mentioned here so far. In fact, its size is closer to that of an entry-level model, such as, say, Canon’s $300-list ImageClass MF249dw.($194.00 at Amazon) Even so, it comes with just about every production and convenience feature you can get on a laser AIO in this class, including an auto-duplexing automatic document feeder (ADF) and a plethora of standard and mobile connectivity methods.

Not as stylish as Canon’s latest round of monochrome lasers, nor as volume-capable and expandable as Brother’s current midrange black-and-white laser AIOs, the Ricoh 377SFNwX nevertheless has its charms, to the extent that if its overall print quality were just a wee bit better, it would have easily walked away with our Editors’ Choice nod. Otherwise, it is an ideal mid-volume workhorse for your small office’s or workgroup’s internal communications, as well as frontline situations, such as the front desks at doctors’ and dentists’ offices, auto repair shops, and anywhere else quick, short text documents are required.

Read the entire review at Computer Shopper



 

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,  (Check on Amazon 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



 

Review of the Brother HL-L8260CDW standalone laser printer at Computer ShopperOften, printer makers release incremental versions of a product with different feature sets (sometimes very different), but with small differences in price. In those cases, you have the potential to get a great bargain if you spend just a little more—or, conversely, you can give up a lot in trying to save just a little bit of cash.

Such is the conundrum presented by today’s review subject, the $349.99-list Brother HL-L8260CDW ($269.00 at Amazon) (and its $399.99-list sibling, the Brother HL-L8360CDW).($359.99 at Amazon) The printers have MSRPs/list prices that are $50 apart, and depending on the online seller, real-world selling prices that were between $50 and $75 apart at this writing.

Now, $50 to $75 is a fair bit of money, in a relative sense, when you are talking about a $350 product. But what you give up for that money, in this specific equation, is substantial. (In addition, the more a printer costs, the less relevant $50 or $75 is.)

It’s situations like these, where, by dissipating the marketing smokescreen, as analysts we can help you in your role as IT decision-maker for your home office or small business—or in your everyday life. If, that is, we do our job correctly. And here, with confidence we think the extra money for the HL-L8360CDW, for most buyers, will be money well-spent.

Brother HL-L8260CDW (Right Angled)

The HL-L8260CDW is part of a multi-product launch of Brother laser printers in mid-2017, with this model being the lowest-end of the bunch. One step up from an actual entry-level color laser, such as the Canon ImageClass LBP612Cdw ($204.52 at Amazon) we reviewed recently, the HL-L8260CDW is roughly comparable in HP’s line to the HP Color LaserJet Pro M452dw. Both models come with higher input capacities, higher monthly duty cycles (the number of pages that the manufacturer says you can print each month without overtaxing the printer), and input-tray expansion options that the entry-level models don’t offer.

The next model up from the HL-L8260CDW, the HL-L8360CDW, has a higher-still duty cycle (60,000 pages, versus 40,000), greater input-capacity expansion (1,300 versus 1,050 sheets), and access to higher-yield toner cartridges. The last, in turn, deliver lower running costs. In fact, the HL-L8360CDW has one of the lowest costs per page for a color laser in this price range that we know of. In contrast, the HL-L8260CDW’s running costs are, as we’ll detail later, closer to average for this class.

Even so, the HL-L8260CDW is a fine printer on all fronts, including print speed and output quality. You could choose it over its higher-capacity, more expensive sibling, of course, if you know for certain that you’d never need its expanded input capacity, higher duty cycle, and access to higher-yield toner cartridges. That said, it’s tough to get past the higher-yield model’s lower running costs—especially if you’ll be printing thousands of pages each month. (And if you’re not, either of these printers is overkill.)

Read the entire Review at Computer Shopper



 

IWilliam Harrel's reviews on Computer Shoppert’s hard to believe, but I have been writing for the legendary Computer Shopper for over eight years (as of October 2017), and have been a contributing editor there for about seven years. My beat has covered everything from desktop systems and laptops, to tablets and 2-in-1s in several flavors (operating systems) and size, printers and all-in-one printers in all shapes and sizes, video cards, SSD and other types of disk drives—you name it. It’s been a wild ride.

More so than ever, competition in the tech markets is cutthroat and fierce. It’s been my pleasure to do what I can to keep you all informed.

For a list and links to my articles on Computer Shopper, click here


 

William Harrel's writing at PCMagCamarillo, July 13, 2016 — Part of the Ziff-Davis, one of the leaders in online technology media empire,  PC Magazine, or PCMag, as it is known online, is one of the oldest and most respected and trusted technology news outlets on the Internet.

Currently, my beat at PCMag is printers, labeling systems, and scanners, both document and photo scanners, all of which coincides with my background in desktop publishing.

As we move from mid- to late-2017, after just over a year of writing for PCMag, my number of published reviews will surpass 100 within the next month or so. (This post was updated in early September, 2017

A list of my reviews at www.pcmag.com.


 

  • My review of the Xerox VersaLink B400/DN at PCMagPROS

    Fast. Excellent print quality. Strong paper capacity that’s expandable. Has 110,000-page maximum duty cycle. Very high-yield toner cartridges available. Strong security features. Much lighter than competitors.

  • CONS

    Wi-Fi, Wi-Fi Direct, and NFC capabilities are extra. Somewhat high running costs.

  • BOTTOM LINE

    The Xerox VersaLink B400/DN is a trim, high-volume single-function monochrome laser printer that prints well and quickly, and it’s highly expandable, but lower running costs would make it a better value.

Priced between the Brother HL-L6300DW ($339.00 at Amazon) and the Dell Smart Printer S5830dn ($641.71 at Amazon), both top picks, the Xerox VersaLink B400/DN ($699) is a mid-to-high-volume single-function monochrome laser printer designed for small-to-medium-size offices and workgroups. Like its competitors, it has a high maximum monthly duty cycle; it prints well—and fast—and it’s highly expandable. The B400/DN supports many connectivity and security features, but—as on the Dell S5830dn—many are available only as add-ons. In most ways, though, the B400/DN holds up to its Brother and Dell competitors, except that a slightly high cost per page (CPP) leaves it just shy of receiving our Editors’ Choice nod.