We 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.
Before 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.
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.