We're thinking of laser-quality printing for less than $200, and with duplex, no less. The last major retail milestone of this caliber that comes to mind was terabyte hard drives for $99. That’s the story of the B411, the latest LED printer from OKI Data, which began shipping in June at a list price of $199 with USB and parallel connections; $249 with Ethernet.
The CRN Test Center was impressed with the unit’s print quality, speed and price, and recommends the unit for its intended uses as a SOHO, departmental and point-of-sale output device.
In May, the Mount Laurel, N.J.-based company announced that it would replace six of its then-current color and monochrome models with four new printers -- all based on the same totally redesigned LED imaging engine, an engine that will form the basis for all new models into the foreseeable future.
"We usually we have one [engine] for mono and a separate one for color," said Nick Ciarlante, senior marketing manager for OKI's Mono, SIDM and specialty products. "This is the first time OKI has used the same exact engine across the board." He said it was also designed to be made wider for use in larger printers yet to be designed.
And a fine engine it is. When printing our high-resolution monochromatic PIMA/ISO chart, the OKI engine produced clear, crisp horizontal, vertical and curved lines throughout all point sizes when using its 600x600 dots per inch and “best” quality setting. Quality was also acceptable in the standard mode of 300x300. And as specified, the B411 printed at precisely 35 pages per second in its standard 300x300 mode.
A sticker on the B411’s front panel proudly proclaims that the printer was “Manufactured in a CarbonZero facility,” referring to the company’s efforts to “slow down global climate change.” Even if it won’t, this printer consumes less energy than conventional laser printers and prints just as well. Power consumption in “power save” mode (automatic after inactivity) was four watts, and eight watts in “ready” mode. When printing, the B411 alternated between approximately 836 and 404 watts, and peaked briefly at around 853 watts.
We’ve grown somewhat accustomed to the high cost of ink and toner, thanks to razor cartridges and the ink jet printer. If only the price of consumables was on the same track as the machines that consume them.
But unlike most laser printers, which combine toner and drum in a single disposable unit, OKI’s new engine employs a two-piece consumable system, which maximizes drum use and minimizes recurring costs. For $98 list, the OKI B411 toner can produce about 4,000 pages, while the $190 drum is rated at 30,000 pages, up from the 25K rating given its predecessor, the B410. The included paper try holds 250 sheets, plus another 100 in the multi-purpose tray.
The low-profile unit stands just 9.5-inches-high and has a footprint of about 15-inches-square. For its groundbreaking low price, fast and high-quality output, implacable channel program and one-year overnight exchange warranty, the OKI Data B411 printer gets a strong recommendation from the CRN Test Center.