Review: Lower-Priced Color Printers

Every office, and even many home users, can afford a color laser printer these days. We look at two models, one that sells for around $3,000 and another that's priced under $1,000.

Marc Spiwak, Contributor

July 19, 2006

4 Min Read

Because of the wide range of price points, most, if not all offices now use color laser printers. Not too long ago, the smallest of offices could afford only inkjet printers when they needed color output. But today almost every vendor offers a color laser printer for well under $1,000. Prices have dropped at the high end as well, as many high-performance large-format color laser printers are sold for less than $5,000. Here we look at Konica Minolta's latest top-of-the-line magicolor 7450 and Oki Data's sub-$1,000 C6100n.

Konica Minolta Magicolor 7450
Konica Minolta's latest best-in-class color laser printer offers a terrific combination of performance, image quality and paper handling at an estimated street price of $2,999. The magicolor 7450 is a large-format color laser printer that's ideal for high-volume use with its 120,000 page per month duty cycle. It's also the perfect tool for producing in-house brochures and promotional pieces.

The magicolor 7450 single-pass printer offers 9,600 x 600 dpi-class resolution. The printer is powered by a 733MHz G4 processor. Standard memory is 256 Mbytes, which can be upgraded to 1 Gbyte if necessary. The printer outputs up to 24.5 pages per minute (ppm) in monochrome or color and has standard gigabit Ethernet, USB 2.0 and parallel interfaces, and supports direct photo printing from PictBridge-compatible cameras. The printer supports PostScript 3 and PCL 6 printing languages and Windows, Macintosh and Linux operating systems.

A smart calibration system that features automatic image density control quickly and invisibly calibrates the printer for consistent color on every print. That, in conjunction with special polymerized toner, helps produce vivid color prints that rival traditional photographs in realism and color accuracy. Text, too, is printed with amazing sharpness.

The magicolor 7450 is easy for solution providers to set up, as it's smaller and doesn't weigh as much as many other large-format printers. The printer measures 25.5 inches wide by 23.6 inches deep by 18.7 inches high and weighs about 133 pounds with the consumables installed. Monitoring and maintenance also are easy. Solution providers can use a Web-based management utility to display real-time supply status and troubleshoot the printer from any location.

Minolta's partner program offers a single tier, and all partners receive marketing, pre- and post-sales and technical support. Complete product training is available either online or in person. Partners are fully supported with dedicated account executives and systems field engineers and a dedicated inside sales representative at Minolta's corporate headquarters. All partners have access to a password-protected Web site where they can learn about the latest offers, claim incentives and download support materials.

Oki Data C6100n
Offices that don't need to print large-format output and don't want to spend a lot of money should be satisfied with Oki Data's C6100n. Oki's color printers use LED print heads instead of lasers to produce printed pages, but this technical detail is and always has been invisible to users. The single-pass C6100n is based on Oki's seventh-generation LED print technology. Oki's new microfine toner and multilevel LED heads combine to produce 1,200 x 600 dpi output.

The C6100n is a small-format printer with a 500MHz processor. Standard memory is 256 Mbytes, which can be upgraded to a maximum of 768 Mbytes. Even though this is a single-pass unit, there is a speed difference between color and monochrome. The printer outputs up to 26 ppm in color and 32 ppm in black and white. That's great performance for a printer with an estimated street price of $899. The C6100n has a duty cycle of 60,000 pages per month. Image quality is good, and certainly acceptable for everyday office work.

Standard connectivity for the C6100n includes a 10/100 NIC for network use and a USB 2.0 port for local use. The printer supports PostScript 3, PCL 5e and PCL 6 printing languages. A downloadable WebPrint utility saves time and paper by eliminating the printing of partial Web pages.

Small in size and light enough for one person to set up, the C6100n measures 17.1 inches wide by 22.1 inches deep by 13.4 inches high, and it weighs about 57 pounds.

Oki's channel program has three levels. Standard partners must purchase a minimum of $2,000 in Oki products per month; Premier partners must purchase $5,000 in Oki products per month; and Elite partners must provide value-added service and stock consumables and parts for Oki printers in addition to meeting the minimum $5,000 purchasing requirements. Discounts on products, spare parts and warranties vary by partner level. Partners have access to 24x7 technical support, a dedicated channel portal, co-op funding and MDFs, and are reimbursed for marketing and advertising campaigns. In-person training is provided regionally and also is available online. Larger groups can attend local two- and three-day classes that cover everything needed to sell Oki printers.

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