The following models took part in testing: Lexmark C912, HP 9500N, Oki C9300, Nashuatec Aficio C7010, Ricoh Aficio CL7000, Xerox 7750DN, Xante CL30D HSE, MB 735N.
At the moment, the market for A3 color laser printers is experiencing a noticeable upturn, due to a significant increase in demand for these products. As a rule, most corporate clients prefer to buy such devices instead of large printing machines designed for printing large print runs. In terms of speed and quality, color laser printers are not inferior to such bulky machines, but they are significantly cheaper than the latter, and sometimes easier to maintain.
For this test, we tried to collect the most interesting models of devices of this type presented on the market. But it is also worth noting that comparative testing of these devices is complicated by a wide range of their practical applications. However, in this case, due to the fact that most of these devices have the same technical base, an already established method for testing printers can be used for a superficial comparison.
In this review, we used the testing methodology that we use for comparative testing of printers. Since most of the printers that participated in this test belong to completely different types of positioning in the printing market and to different price ranges, we did not compare them in the same way as, for example, SOHO printers. As a result, we offer readers to choose a printer that is suitable for their own characteristics and additional equipment, following the tables given in the article.
Testing methods of A3 printers
Testing was performed on a workstation with the Microsoft Windows XP SP2 operating system installed. Configuring printers involved installing drivers, profiles, and software. The software packages Adobe Photoshop CS, Adobe Illustrator CS, Adobe Acrobat 6.0, and MS Word 2003 were used for testing the principles.
The method of testing printers was based on two types of tests aimed at determining the speed characteristics of printers and the quality of color reproduction and resolution of printers.
In the first part of the test, the following test tasks were performed to calculate the integral print speed indicator:
- printing a text document in MS Word 2003 format, which is a blank A4 page that contains a single element in the center — the letter ” o ” 12 points in size, typed in Times New Roman font. The test is designed to evaluate the maximum speed of printing text documents;
- print formatted text in MS Word 2003 format with 8 A4 pages (23,900 characters), containing font highlights and titles;
- print a two-page PDF publication containing text, graphics, and raster and vector illustrations;
- print an eight-page PDF publication containing color and black text, graphic elements, and raster and vector illustrations;
- print a single-page PDF publication containing text, tables, charts, graphic elements, and illustrations; A4 format.
In the second part of the test, the printers were examined for print quality and the following tasks were performed:
- print a two-page PDF publication containing text, graphics, and raster and vector illustrations;
- print an eight-page PDF publication containing text, graphics, and raster and vector illustrations;
- print a single-page PDF publication containing text, tables, charts, graphic elements, and illustrations; A4 format;
- printing vector graphics; a set of specially prepared vector images in Adobe Illustrator CS format;
- print a color photo; a combined bitmap image (24-bit, RGB) in TIFF format of 28 x 19 cm with a resolution of 300 dpi, containing photos from the library on PhotoCD and samples of color fields.
After conducting the main test tests on the speed and quality of printing, the following parameters were evaluated:
- performance — the time spent on each test task was recorded in a special table. The countdown started when the “Print” button or similar button was pressed in the application that was used for printing and ended when the last page of the document left the paper drawing mechanism. The time when devices complete test tasks is shown in table 1;
- print quality — after receiving the test image prints, a comparative analysis of the test printouts was performed on all participating printers. At the same time, printouts made on the same type of paper with the same settings were compared in turn. A subjective assessment of the quality of prints is presented in table 2.
In addition, other important characteristics of A3 printers were taken into account:
- hardware functionality that takes into account the availability and possibility of installing alternative connection interfaces, two-sided printing devices and additional trays, finishing equipment, as well as the maximum and minimum sizes and allowed media densities;
- ease of use of the printer-evaluation of hardware capabilities, ergonomics, and functionality of the software, as well as ease of use of tested printers; data are shown in table.
Table. Test results on print speed
|Description||Color mode||Quality mode||Total number of pages||Weight coefficients||HP 9500N||Lexmark C912||Xerox 7750DN||Xante CL30D HSE||Ricoh Aficio CL7000||Nashuatec Aficio C7010||MB 735N|
|PDF Publication||Color||Best||8||5||0:24:23||12:14:25 AM||12:21:04 AM||12:30:25 AM||12:23:21 AM||12:20:13 AM||12:14:25 AM|
|PDF Publication||Color||Optimal||1||4||3:45||12:27:25 AM||5:18||3:52||13:47||8:05||12:27:25 AM|
|PDF Publication||Color||Best||1||4||3:04||12:26:20 AM||5:10||4:22||5:43||6:35||12:26:20 AM|
|Integral speed indicator||24,06||11,58||25,88||18,66||13,58||17,54||11,76|
A3 printers testing
This model comes in several modifications, each of which differs from the previous set of auxiliary modules for printing. For example, the printer under test is equipped with a network interface and has two paper trays of 500 sheets each.
In this test, we consider a model with most optional modules, but the quality and speed of printing is not much inferior to the model with a full set of additional modules. Fully optional, the printer can be equipped with two additional trays, one of which is a 1000-page finisher with stapling, and the other is a 2500 — page feed tray.
The stated print speed of this printer is 35 pages/min in black-and-white and color mode. The maximum print resolution of this model is 1200 x 1200 dpi. Since this printer supports the A3+ format and the print resolution is high, the image printing speed depends on the data transfer rate between the printer and the computer and on the processor performance. The 735n printer is equipped with two high-speed USB 2.0 interfaces and an integrated Ethernet 10/100 Base-TX network controller, as well as an optional built-in 40 GB hard drive. This printer uses a 600 MHz processor as its processor. The printer also supports the latest versions of the Adobe PS3 and PCL5c scripting languages.
The printer supports custom paper formats and media density up to 160 g/m2, but the latter figure is far from the limit, so the use of thicker paper is generally acceptable, although it may cause rapid wear of device parts.
It is worth noting the additional functionality of this printer. So, it has the function of internal print statistics. Using this so-called billing system, you can get data on the number of impressions printed, ink consumption, and other statistics related to printing. It also comes with a program for configuring color profiles, which allows you to create profiles for the most frequently used tasks. Like most MB devices, this printer has an informative LCD screen and a convenient control panel.
Continuing the traditional policy of reducing the cost of hardware support, MB also promotes a simplified and user-friendly system in its 735N model.
First of all, this printer has performed well in print quality tests. However, this should not be surprising, since the print resolution is 1200 dpi. The printer can be successfully used for fast and rapid printing of small print runs of color copies. Note only one drawback: the appearance of so-called plucking (peeling paint) on high-density papers.
Nashuatec Aficio C7010
This is one of the latest models-representatives of the C7000 line, which looks almost identical to the previous ones. On the front panel of the printer is a liquid crystal display, next to which there are functional control buttons. You can use this panel to set almost all print settings. It is worth noting that this model has good speed characteristics, as it uses laser printing technology. The manufacturer’s stated printing speed for A4 sheets with a resolution of 600 dpi is 35 pages/min in black and white and 10 pages/min in full-color mode. The maximum print resolution of this model is 600 dpi. Since the printer supports the A3+ format and the print resolution is high, the image printing speed often depends heavily on the data transfer speed between the printer and the computer and on the performance of the built-in processor. The Aficio c7010 printer is equipped with two high-speed USB 2.0 interfaces and an integrated 10/100Base-TX Ethernet network controller, as well as an IEEE-1284 (parallel) interface. Optionally, the printer can install the IEEE-1384 high-speed interface. As standard, the device is equipped with 32 MB of built-in memory, which can be expanded to 384 MB. The printer also has an RM5261 processor with a frequency of 250 MHz, which increases the processing speed of incoming information. The device supports the latest versions of the Adobe PS3 and PCL5 script printing languages. Aficio C7010 allows the user to select the paper format from Letter to A3+. The density of media used can reach up to 163 g/m2 for direct-pass printing and 105 g / m2 for the automatic paper feed tray. At the same time, the figure of 163 g / m2 is far from the limit and it is possible to use more dense paper, although this can lead to rapid wear of the device parts or to frequent paper jams. You can also install the so-called duplex module for double-sided printing, a four-letter mailbox, and a finisher on this model, which makes working with the device more convenient and efficient. In the basic configuration, the Nashuatec C7010 is equipped with an automatic tray for 350 sheets, and when installing additional paper feed trays, the possible volume of loaded paper increases to 1350 sheets. As an additional option, you can also install a hard disk with a capacity of 20 GB, which allows you to increase the speed of information processing, as well as store the most frequently printed documents.
The Aficio C7010 toner cartridges can print up to 18,000 black-and-white pages and up to 10,000 pages in color mode. The resource at full load of the drum is 120 thousand prints. At the same time, the peak load per month, declared by the manufacturer, is 40 thousand prints. The resource of a color developer by the manufacturer is equal to 60 thousand prints, and black-and — white-120 thousand. All figures are based on a 5% fill rate of the A4 page. the printer also has a high resource of replacement parts, which increases the duration of its operation without the need to replace nodes.
This model is designed mainly for small offices with small print runs. The speed and quality of this printer are quite consistent with its characteristics. It should be noted that the A3+ paper format can be supported, which allows you to print on originals with larger sizes than the standard A3 format.
This is one of the latest models of Hewlett-Packard. First of all, it is designed for large print runs in color and is intended for medium and small offices. In the basic configuration, the device is a color laser printer of relatively small dimensions.
In the market of color laser printers in A3 format, in most cases, there are models with a resolution of at least 1200 dpi, and this model is no exception.
The printer has several options for connecting to the computer. The priority is to connect to a local network or to a computer via the built-in Ethernet 10/100Ba-se-TX network interface. The printer is also equipped with an IEEE-1284 parallel interface as standard. As an option, a high-speed USB 2.0 interface and an infrared port (FIR) are provided. According to the manufacturer, the speed of printing color and black-and-white prints in A4 format is 24 pages/min; for A3 format, this figure is twice as low-12 pages/min. This printer uses a 500 MHz MIPS processor as the print controller. It is worth noting that to increase the speed of image processing or incoming text to the printer, 160 MB of memory is installed in the basic configuration, with the ability to expand to 384 MB. To store images and enable hidden printing, a 10 GB hard disk is optionally supplied with the printer. The printer’s print resolution is 600 dpi. To improve print quality, this model uses Imageret 4800 technology, with support for color management systems based on ICC color templates. In addition, the printer uses intelligent technology to improve the edges of text and automatic capture for high-definition text and lines. The new improved chemically synthesized toner allows you to use new types of media, as well as print on paper with a density of up to 200 g/m2 for conventional trays and up to 220 g / m2 for a multi-purpose tray.
The HP 9500 is equipped with high-capacity cartridges with a resource of 25 thousand pages and an image transfer drum designed for 40 thousand pages. We can’t ignore the fact that this model is designed for large monthly loads, and its optimal load is up to 200 thousand pages.
In the basic configuration, the printer is equipped with two paper feed trays: a regular tray for 500 sheets and a multi-purpose one, with the ability to install high-density originals, designed for 100 sheets of paper.
This model performed well in speed tests. The speed of printing fully corresponded to the stated characteristics, and in the speed test for black-and-white originals was even higher. The convenient control menu located on the front of the printer also confirms the assumption that this model is designed primarily for the inexperienced user. Replacement of replacement parts and cartridges will not cause major problems for the maintenance staff. The quality of the prints was generally good, but it is worth noting a slight iridescence of red, which is especially evident on the skin when printing photos of people.
This printer is one of the latest developments in the company Lexmark. The printing technology used in this device is led. The printer is primarily designed for printing color originals in large volumes. First of all, it is worth noting the high claimed printing speed. Thus, the print of A4 originals, both color and black-and-white, is 29 pages/min.
Connection to the computer is made via two main interfaces — USB 2.0 and IEEE-1284 (parallel). You can also install an additional 10/100Base-TX network interface as an option in this model. According to the manufacturer, the resolution of printing color images is up to 2400 dpi for this model. However, we immediately note that the actual resolution is 1200 dpi. It should be noted that this device implements linear printing technology: this means that when processing color images, all four colors (cyan, yellow, magenta, and black) are output in one pass. Thus, the speed of the printer is the same for both black-and-white and color documents and allows you to print on originals with a high density. The built-in print controller is based on a 600 MHz RISC processor and is equipped with 128 MB of RAM, which can be expanded to 512 MB. As an option, you can also connect a built-in flash drive or hard disk with a capacity of 20 GB. This model supports a single page description language — PCL 6, as well as PostScript 3 emulation.
The standard tray allows you to load 550 sheets of A3 format, although the developers have provided for the possibility of printing information on A4 sheets. Three additional trays can be purchased as additional to the Lexmark C912-in this case, the total maximum capacity of the trays will increase to 5.3 thousand pages. Other functions that are not included in the basic package include double-sided printing, automatic punching of holes, paper binding, and stacking of bundles. The maximum working cycle for this printer is 100,000 pages per month. Both color and black-and-white cartridges are designed for a load of up to 14 thousand pages per month, and the drum resource is 28 thousand pages.
This model had the highest print resolution of all presented in our review — 2400 dpi. It is worth noting that the print quality was not fundamentally higher than that of the others, although it differed for the better. At the same time, the printing speed was noticeably lower than that of the other models presented. This printer can be called a high-performance, focused on the market of pre-printing images. However, we must not forget about the rather complex configuration of its driver to get the best image.
Ricoh Aficio CL7000
This model is a laser network full-color printer in A3 format, designed for large print volumes.
The Ricoh Aficio CL7000 laser printer is a replacement for the Ricoh Aficio AP3800C printer. While maintaining the same performance as the AP3800C, the new printer has undergone significant design improvements. Thus, the service life of the oil supply device in the Thermoblock was increased, and the design of the Thermoblock itself was refined. The high printing speed of this model, which is 28 full-color or 38 black-and-white A4 prints per minute, is achieved by using technology with single-pass image formation without an image transfer belt and with five laser beams. The print resolution of this printer is 1200 dpi. To increase performance, the CL7000 has a controller based on a 500 MHz processor. Also, to increase the processing speed of incoming information to the printer, it is equipped with 64 MB of memory in the basic configuration, which can be increased to 384 MB if desired. The standard interfaces for communication with the computer are IEEE-1284 (parallel), USB 1.1, and the Ethernet 10/100Base-TX network interface. As optional interfaces, you can install high-speed USB 2.0, IEEE-1384, and Bluetooth 1.1 wireless interface. for font storage, this model can be retrofitted with a hard drive with a capacity of 20 or 40 GB.
In the basic version, the printer is equipped with two paper feed trays — a multi-purpose one designed for 100 sheets, and a regular one that can hold 500 sheets of paper. However, an optional 1000-sheet bypass tray and a large-capacity 2000-sheet tray can also be purchased for this model.
The recommended print volume for the CL7000 is about 10,000 A4 prints per month, and the maximum is up to 50,000 A4 prints per month, provided that full — color prints make up no more than half of all output prints.
The printer showed high-quality prints. The printing speed was fully consistent with the manufacturer’s stated speed. The device is positioned as a convenient solution for printing large print runs in small and medium-sized offices. This is confirmed by both speed and print quality tests.
Xante Color Laser 30D HSE
This model is primarily aimed at professional use in online printing salons, service bureaus and advertising departments. Printers of the CL30 HSE line, having all the advantages of previous models, allow you to print on media with a density of up to 330 g / m2. This is achieved by using a single-pass type of printing, when the media passes only one cycle and is not subjected to breaks during the passage, which, in turn, allows you to pass high-density media. In addition, when using this type of printing, the printing speed increases — this printer has a speed of about 30 pages/min when printing color images and about 37 pages/min in black-and-white printing.
Like the previous line, ColorLaser 30 HSE devices are divided into four devices: CL30 HSE, CL30HD HSE, CL30HC HSE and CL30HCF HSE, each of which differs from the others only in functional equipment. The first printer-CL30 HSE – has a print resolution of 1200 dpi, supports media format up to 327 x 1220 mm and PostScript 3 language. Printers are connected via standard interfaces: USB 2.0 and Ethernet 10 / 100Base-T. The CL30D HSE model has a built-in duplex module for two-sided printing and a 10 GB hard disk. The CL30HC HSE has the same functional characteristics as the CL30D HSE, with the exception of an enlarged paper feed tray (the latter is represented as three trays of 550 sheets each). The younger model is equipped with 256 MB of internal memory, and the other three models are equipped with 320 MB of memory. The latest model of the ColorLaser 30HCF HSE family also has a stand for the printer and finisher-a device that allows you to make perforations and fasten documents with paper clips.
Now let’s talk a little more about the CL30D HSE model and its main technical characteristics. This printer is equipped with a built-in high-speed controller based on the PowerPC 600 with a frequency of 600 MHz, as well as 320 MB of SDRAM memory with the ability to build up to 1024 MB using DIMM modules. The physical print resolution of the printer is 1200 x 1200 dpi. The printer has two types of media feed — a universal tray that can hold up to 550 sheets, and a high-density material feed tray that can hold up to 100 sheets.
The built-in 10/100Base-T Ethernet network controller allows you to use the device as a network printer without connecting to a specific PC and supports most common protocols such as EtherTalk, LPR, TCP/IP, and IPP. The printer can also be connected to a PC via the IEEE-1284 and USB 2.0 interfaces (the latter are located on its back wall next to the connectors for connecting additional modules). The power button is located on the left side of the printer’s front panel. The printer can be used with most MAC and Windows operating systems.
Installing or replacing the toner is done by flipping the printer cover up. The procedure for replacing cartridges is extremely simple and does not require the intervention of a specialist. The toner is designed for 15 thousand copies with 5% filling. The density of supported media, which is about 330 g / m2 when using a multi-purpose side tray and about 60-175 g / m2 when using a universal tray, is one of the main advantages of this device.
Like previous models, this printer is equipped with an Adobe PostScript 3 interpreter, which guarantees its compatibility with most modern publishing systems and with most software. The printer recognizes most types of paper size and also automatically detects the density of the media.
This printer can be considered a leader in printing on different types of media. Thanks to the use of special HSE printing technology, it allows you to print images on paper with a density of up to 330 g / m2 with complete preservation of print quality. The device prints equally well on plain paper, and on special papers of different types, for example, on paper with “frost”, on dense yellow, etc. The speed of printing when using non-standard media also does not change, which provides additional advantages to this printer.
Xerox Phaser 7750DN
Xerox has released a new A3 color laser printer, the Phaser 7750. Currently, the technology of color laser printing is becoming more accessible for medium and small offices, while increasing the quality of printing such printers. This is also true for printers with a resolution of 1200 dpi.
This model is available in three versions: DN, GX, DFX, each of which differs from the others by a set of auxiliary modules for printing. For example, the Phaser 7750DN printer under test (as indicated by the last two letters in its name) is equipped with a network interface and a two-way printing module.
This test considers a model with a minimal configuration-DN, but it cannot be said that it is inferior to the others in terms of quality and speed of printing. For example, the Phaser 7750GX has additional paper feed trays, as well as an increased memory capacity of 512 MB. In addition, the letters GX indicate that this model is supplied with the PhaserMatch 3.0 color profile setup program. The older DFX model comes standard with two additional trays, one of which is a 1000-page finisher with stapling, and the other is a 2500 — page feed tray.
The stated print speed of this printer is 35 pages / min in both black-and-white and color mode. The maximum print resolution of this model is 1200 x 1200 dpi. Since the printer supports the A3+ format and has a high print resolution, the image printing speed depends on the data transfer rate between the printer and the computer and on the processor performance. The Phaser 7750 printer is equipped with two high-speed USB 2.0 interfaces and an integrated Ehternet 10 / 100Base-TX network controller, as well as a built-in 20 GB hard drive. As a processor, this printer uses a powerful Power PC G4 with a frequency of 715 MHz. The printer also supports the latest versions of the Adobe PS3 and PCL5c scripting languages.
The device supports custom paper formats and media density up to 220 g / m2, but the latter value is not the limit, meaning that the use of thicker paper is acceptable, although it may cause rapid wear of the device parts.
Note the additional functionality of this printer. First of all, it is internal printing statistics — with this so-called billing system, you can get data on the number of impressions printed, on the ink consumption, and other statistics related to printing. To get high-quality prints, various utilities are supplied with the printer, such as the Phaser Cal color callibration program and the TekColor Correction program built into the printer driver. The GX and DFX models also come with a program for configuring color profiles PhaserMatch 3.0, which allows you to create profiles for the most frequently used tasks. Like previous models of Xerox printers, this model has an Intelligent Ready mode that automatically tracks the printer’s usage periods and warms it up in advance when printing is most likely, as well as enabling power saving mode when printing is least likely. Like most Xerox devices, this printer has an informative LCD screen and a convenient control panel.
Xerox has always been famous for its color laser printers. The 7750DN can be recognized as one of the best printers in terms of print quality. It allows you to print both large and small photos without losing quality. The speed of this device fully corresponds to the characteristics specified by the manufacturer. But it is worth noting one drawback: this model is not intended for printing on high-density paper, as this leads to the appearance of pronounced plucking.
This model is based on led color printing technology. Like most of the models presented in our review, this printer has a single-pass printing system and a resolution of 1200 dpi.
As standard, the C9300 has three interfaces for connecting to a computer — IEEE-1284 (parallel), high-speed USB 2.0, and an Ethernet 10/100Base-TX network interface. As an option, this model comes with the S900 scanning set-top box, which allows you to perform color and monochrome copying at a speed of up to 11 pages / min in color and up to 27 pages / min in monochrome mode. An autofeeder of originals is also available, which is connected to the printer via the Fire-Wire interface.
The stated maximum print resolution is 1200 dpi. High-quality prints in this model are provided thanks to a processor with a clock speed of 450 MHz, as well as internal memory of 128 MB in the basic configuration, with the ability to expand up to 1 GB. Some features of printing technology include automatic color balancing, a procedure performed by the printer when switching on and changing supplies and ensuring consistent color reproduction. You can not ignore the autofeed function, which is a calibration of color matching, which is performed when you turn on, close the cover and every 400 sheets.
Among the standard functions of management are presented also statistics of press and the predictable wear of consumable parts. The printer supports printing on high-density paper-up to 203 g/m2, which is fed using a direct paper feed tray.
It is necessary to note the convenient Russian-language control panel with many functions.
Like most printers, the C9300 supports Adobe PostScript 3 and PCL6, which allows you to work with the most common graphics packages.
The quality of the prints of this model was generally good, but we should note the appearance of fuzzy black borders on the gradient. The stated speed completely coincided with the test results.