Review of the OKI MC573dn color laser MFP at Computer ShopperEvery so often, when some of the major makers of laser and laser-class printers (Brother, Canon, and OKI, for instance) update their stables of small-business and workgroup printers, they all seem to land at the same time. Like here in mid-2017.

We’;ve got reviews of laser-class stand-alone (printer-only) and multifunction (print/copy/scan/fax) models in the hopper for all but HP, and that company said to be on the lookout for soon-to-come announcements.

Tokyo-based OKI Data has been more active than behemoth HP early in 2017 on the laser front. The veteran printer maker released several new laser-class models, including two stand-alones, the OKI C332dn and OKI C612dn, that we reviewed recently. Today, we’;re looking at the $899-MSRP OKI MC573dn, a midrange color-laser-class multifunction printer (MFP) along the same lines as several other laser-class MFPs we’;ve reviewed within the past year or so, such as the HP Color LaserJet Pro MFP M477fdw, the Samsung Multifunction Printer ProXpress C3060FW, and the Xerox WorkCentre 6515, to name a few.

All three of these, as well as the Brother, Canon, and soon-to-come HP machines, are actual laser printers, in that the light source inside them that etches page images on the print drum is a laser-driven mechanism. The OKI MC573dn, as well as the two stand-alone OKI models mentioned above, on the other hand, are LED-based printers. Their light source in each case is a light-emitting-diode (LED) array, rather than an actual laser; hence, we call them laser-class or laser-style printers. Aside from this distinction, though, from the outside LED-based printers function and look identical to their laser counterparts.

OKI MC573dn (Front)

At one time, several printer manufacturers offered LED printers alongside laser-based siblings. Why? Well, because LED-array hardware is typically smaller and lighter, with fewer moving parts than what’s in laser equivalents, and the arrays use less power. They cost less to manufacture, too, thereby allowing for printers that are smaller, lighter, less costly to make, and more energy-efficient.

Even so, OKI is the only printer maker left that deploys LED arrays in most of its laser-class machines. Why? We can only speculate as to that. It’;s true that, because lasers deploy only one light source and LED arrays use several, laser imaging heads are often more precise. But that is not an absolute; we’;ve seen LED-based machines over the years that produce output as good as, and sometimes better than, many of their laser competitors. And, again, LED arrays draw notably less power, making them less expensive to run day in and day out.

Which brings us back to the OKI MC573dn. Overall, OKI has done a terrific job with this update. This model comes with a snazzy 7-inch touch screen, a decent feature set, and the option for expandable paper capacity. And its print quality is about average for its class, which may sound like faint praise but really means: It’s very good.

We aren’;t thrilled with its per-page toner cost, though. This printer would be a much better value if it saved you money on both power and consumables. Even so, the OKI MC573dn is a highly capable laser-class MFP that’s more than suitable for low to moderate volume in a micro or small office or workgroup. For the most part, it runs neck and neck with its laser-based competitors, except that its $899 list price (and roughly $699 street price) is a little steep compared to competing models mentioned here so far.

Read the entire review at Computer Shopper


 

Review of the OKI C332dn at PCMagNot long ago, the conventional wisdom was that high-volume printing was cheaper on laser and laser-class (LED-array) printers, as opposed to inkjets. For a similar spec of printer, laser-class machines cost more but were less expensive to use, while inkjets cost less but had higher running costs.

Those days of such absolutes are over.

Nowadays, laser-class printers, especially color ones, not only often cost more than their comparable inkjet counterparts, such as the HP PageWide Pro 452dw, but their ongoing per-page operational costs are higher—sometimes, by a lot. (We’ll get into that in more detail later on in this review.) Where today’s review unit, the $349-list OKI C332dn, differs is that it’s aggressively priced for a color laser-class printer. In fact, as we were writing this, we found it all over the Internet for less than $250.

Unlike most of its contemporary counterparts, the C332dn does not deploy a laser emitter for etching page images onto the imaging drum. It’s classed as a laser-style printer, but it instead uses an array of light-emitting diodes (LEDs) in place of the laser. The reason that some printer makers use LED arrays is that they’re smaller, lighter, and less expensive than lasers. As we pointed out in our review of the OKI C612dn a while back, OKI Data is one of the few printer makers left that still deploys LED arrays in most of its printers.

OKI C332dn (Left Angle)

Why are LED arrays not in as wide use today as they once were? We’re not entirely sure. Some might conjecture that it’s because laser printers print better than LED-based models, but we won’t go that far. We’ve seen LED-array machines, such as the OKI C831n we reviewed a few years back, that churn out exceptionally good-looking pages. And, conversely, we’ve seen “real” laser printers that don’t print as well as some LED-based machines do. The answer, then, to which type of machine prints best? It depends on the implementation. Even so, most other makers of toner-based printers—notably HP, Canon, Brother, and Samsung—rely predominantly on laser imaging mechanisms these days.

Which brings us back to the OKI C332dn. Overall, it is a highly capable, mid-volume stand-alone printer that churns out respectable-looking content at a good clip for the money. Compared to its competitors, though (and that includes several inkjets), its running costs are a little high, and we’re a big proponent of low running costs. But then, in some scenarios, laser-class output (toner versus ink) is required, and the page cost is secondary.

For those cases, the C332dn is an able warrior. It’s compact, as color laser-class machines go, and its output is acceptable for all but the most exacting business scenarios. But, between its toner cartridges and imaging drums, be prepared to dig deep to pay for the supplies to keep it going for heavy use. For that reason, we like it best for small businesses and workgroups that require laser-class output in light volumes—say, under 1,000 pages or so a month.

Read the entire review at Computer Shopper


 

OKI B412dn Monochrome Printer ReviewFor 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.

OKI B412dnAside 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.

OKI B512dn Monochrome Printer Review and Ratings“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.

OKI B512dnThis 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.


 

It’s not often that I recommend a laser-class multifunction printer over the most recent fast and inexpensive-to-use high-volume inkjet, but that’s because finding one that’s faster and cheaper-to-use than many of today’s business-centric inkjets has become increasingly difficult. Meanwhile, high-volume inkjet MFPs from Canon, Epson, HP, and Brother, and alternative inkjet printhead technologies from both HP and Epson, increasingly get better and better, while laser-class technology stays pretty much the same.

Before we get started, though, let me point out that the topic of this review, OKI’s $599 MSRP MB492 Multifunction Printer, is an LED laser-class machine that uses light-emitting diodes (LEDs) arrays, rather than lasers, to burn the page image onto the print drum, so that it can transfer toner to the paper. LED arrays are smaller, lighter, have fewer moving parts, use less power, and cost less to manufacture than standard laser printers. Otherwise, they look and operate much the same.

Read the entire review at About.com


 

 

OKI Data B512dn Monochrome PrinterAll some businesses need is a super-fast monochrome printer capable of churning out reams of pages economically. If you think about it, there are still plenty of applications out there—mortgage title companies, auto finance departments, medical offices, to name a few—that require printing stacks of monochrome documents. Traditionally, companies have relied on laser (or laser-class LED-array) machines

for these tasks, but recent advancements in inkjet technology, such as HP’s PageWide and Epson’s more recent (2014) PrecisionCore, as well as better performance and lower per-page ink costs in general, have begun to supplant laser technology.

To the point, in fact, that many high-volume inkjet machines easily out perform their like-and higher-priced laser-class counterparts in nearly every way, including print speed and cost per page, or CPP. Currently, inkjet technology appears to be winning this tug-of-war, but some applications require laser output. If yours is one of them, OKI Data’s relatively new $499 (MSRP) B512dn Monochrome Printer, with its 100,000-page maximum monthly duty (the number of pages OKI says you can print each month without undue wear on the printer) and relatively low cost per page, might be the machine you’re looking for.

Read entire article at About.com.

OKI C831n Review and RatingsIt wasn’t long ago that you couldn’t buy a wide-format (11×17-inch) color printer based on laser or laser-class technology that didn’t stand over three feet high, weigh well over 100 pounds, and cost upward of $5,000. (And let’s not even talk about the cost per printed page, or CPP.) As with so many kinds of computer-related tech, though, wide-format color printers have continued to get smaller, lighter, and less expensive—as well as faster and better-performing. And, as a result, more and more buyers are finding wide-format a must-have once they get their mitts on such a machine. As we noted in our review of HP’s Officejet 7610 Wide Format e-All-in-One, a tabloid-size inkjet multifunction printer we looked at a few weeks ago, once you’ve had a wide-format printer in-house for a while, you’ll probably find yourself wondering how your small or medium-size business (SMB) got by without it.

But aren’t wide-format inkjets significantly cheaper than their laser-class counterparts? You bet they are. You can find decent high-volume wide-format inkjets for under $300. Take the Brother MFC-J6920DW, which comes with two paper drawers, automatic two-sided printing, an automatic document feeder (ADF), and highly competitive per-page consumable costs (in this case, ink). That Brother went for around $230 when we wrote this in March 2014, and that’s less than half of what equivalent inkjets cost six or seven years ago. Laser-class wide-format machines like the one we’re reviewing here today, OKI Data’s $1,699-list OKI C831n, have also gotten a lot more reasonably priced over that same span.

OKI C831nWide-format, or “tabloid,” printers, of course, are capable of churning out pages with twice the surface area (11×17 inches) of the standard letter-size (8.5×11-inch) pages that most of us are used to. Tabloid printers allow you to print a broader range of documents. You can, for example, easily produce four-page booklets and brochures—with just one sheet of paper. (You would print in wide, or landscape, orientation on both sides of the paper, then fold the sheet down the middle.)

Tabloid printers also allow you to create larger flyers, posters, diagrams, drawings, and spreadsheets than standard-size machines do—without your having to take time out to swing by the local Kinko’s. It’s also more economical to print your “oversize” documents on demand, as you need them, rather than shelling out on large print runs—only to have the information contained on the hard copy (such as, say, price changes) become obsolete, forcing you to toss the remaining hundreds or thousands of copies in the recycle bin.

OKI C831n (Angle View)This brings us back to the OKI C831n. It’s a single-function “laser-class” machine that uses the broadly similar LED printing technology. It’s quite a different animal from the inkjet-based HP tabloid printer we mentioned earlier, which gives you nearly every productivity and convenience feature available for a relatively low price. All the C831n provides is bare-bones printing—no auto-duplexing, no automatic document feeder (ADF), no scan or copy features, not even Wi-Fi. You can add some of these features as options, and you can boost the print capacity big-time via some additional input drawers, though this will significantly increase the cost of the printer (which we’ll talk about shortly). And OKI Data does offer an automatic-duplexing version of this printer, dubbed the C831dn, for a list price of $1,929.

If your tabloid printer must be laser-class, as wide-format models go this is a good one. It’s relatively fast and the output, aside from subpar photo output, looks good. (And really, no color laser or LED printer touches even a mediocre inkjet on photo print quality.) The black-and-white CPP is reasonable, but, as we’ll discuss in the Setup & Paper Handling section later on, high-volume machines like this one that cost more than a grand should deliver a lower color CPP. That fact cost the C831n our Editors’ Choice nod. Otherwise, we like this printer.

Read the entire review at Computer Shopper.

OKI MC362w Review and RatingsWe assume that when a small office or workgroup spends $500 or $600 on a color laser-class multifunction workhorse (for printing, scanning, copying, and faxing) with a high recommended output rating, the point is, well, to use it. If you buy a machine that has a high duty cycle (that is, the number of pages the manufacturer says you can print each month without unduly stressing the machine), you intend to churn out thousands of prints and photocopies each month. Otherwise, why spend so much money on such a high-volume machine, right?

As we’ve pointed out many times in past reviews of high-volume laser printers, when considering high-volume models, such as the subject of this review, OKI’s $549-list MC362w, a laser-class multifunction model, the up-front purchase price should seldom be your first concern—especially if you plan on using it at or anywhere near its monthly duty cycle. As you’ll see in our Setup & Paper Handling section a little later in this review, a far more important consideration when buying a mid- or high-volume workhorse is the operating cost per page (CPP). Failure to mind this ongoing expense could cost you hundreds, even thousands, of dollars more than necessary over the life of the printer. No exaggeration.

OKI MC362wBefore we go on, though, perhaps you’ve noticed that we’ve referred to the MC362w as a “laser-class” printer, as opposed to simply a laser printer. That’s because this machine relies on LED technology, rather than the more conventional laser apparatus. The difference between these devices centers on the basic print technology. Instead of using a laser to charge the page image onto the print drum, LED-based machines use an array of light-emitting diodes to do that work. Printer makers substitute LEDs for lasers because they have fewer moving parts, are smaller and lighter, and cost less to manufacture. Otherwise, LED models operate much the same as laser printers do, including how they use toner.

OKI MC362w Front

Although an LED printer is technically not a laser printer, it looks and acts very much like one. Historically, small and home offices have chosen laser and laser-class printers over inkjet models because they print faster and cost less to use over time, despite their somewhat heftier up-front purchase price. Nowadays, though—due to the introduction of high-volume, low-cost-per-page inkjets—you typically have to buy a relatively pricey, high-volume color laser printer to see a speed or per-page-cost benefit. Many lower-volume, lower-cost color lasers no longer have the performance and CPP advantages over their inkjet counterparts. In fact, they sometimes cost more to use.

Furthermore, recent advances in inkjet technology, such as the fixed PageWide printhead in HP’s OfficeJet X line of high-volume printers, have placed even more pressure on entry-level and midrange laser-class machines like this OKI. (See, for example, our review of the HP OfficeJet Pro X576dw.)  And that’s especially true of the MC362w, which is a lower-end, lower-volume model of a pair of multifunction machines OKI debuted recently. The other, the $749-list MC562w, not only has a higher recommended monthly duty cycle (60,000 pages), but it also supports higher-yield toner cartridges than the MC362w does—which translates into a lower CPP.

And that’s our primary quibble with this laser-class machine: By today’s standards, it costs too much to use on an ongoing basis. Apart from that, though, it performed well on our benchmark tests, and, while, out of the box, it didn’t print photos as well as several laser-class devices we’ve tested, its overall print and copy quality was respectable. It comes with nearly every productivity and convenience option we can think of, and it feels very much like it’s built to last.

We like the OKI MC362dw for small offices and workgroups that require fast and dependable laser output, but at relatively low volumes. If you plan to print a lot, there are better values out there, including OKI’s own MC562w. (See a review of the OKI MC562w on our sister site, PCMag.com.)

Read full review at Computer Shopper.