|OKI Data MC562w|
The top considerations for those shopping for a color multifunction printer for the office usually include ease-of-setup, speed of output, warranty and low cost. Secondary considerations might be overall size, paper capacity, a two-sided printing option, Wi-Fi and perhaps OCR.
Starting at $750 list, the OKI Data MC562w high-speed color printer, scanner, copier and fax puts a check next to each of those attributes—and even adds a few more.
The MC562 uses LED imaging technology to deliver 1200 x 600 laser-quality output while theoretically consuming less power than a laser engine and requiring fewer moving parts to wear out. When cycling up, the printer drew a maximum of 1034 watts, and settled down to 14 watts while waiting for something to do. During print-speed tests, it bounced around between 370 watts and 720 watts, with peaks in excess of 1000 watts. In our experience, laser printers typically draw in excess of 900 watts throughout their printing cycles.
Like most printers these days, the MC562 comes with its toner and fuser units pre-installed, making the out-of-box experience a simple matter of unpacking and plugging in. The unit was up and running within minutes, and took just a few minutes more to add to our test network.
When first powered on, the printer's six-line LCD asked if we wanted to activate Wi-Fi, even as the machine was going through its initial internal machinations. Though the printer delivers both wired Ethernet and Wi-Fi, only one can be enabled at a time. A USB port permits walk-up printing. The MC562 supports Apple's AirPrint protocol, which is enabled by default, as well as Google CloudPrint and OKI's own MotionPrint for mobile devices. The unit also can print banners up to 52 inches long.
The printer ships with a Windows-only driver disc that allows it to be connected to a PC, and also provides tools for operating the scanner, fax and other functions over the network. There's also PaperPort and OmniPage (OCR) software and utilities for remotely configuring printer settings. The printer installed on our test Mac without a hitch. Bonjour found it on the network and Mac OS X added the necessary AirPrint drivers automatically. On the Windows side, OKI's installer interface seemed a bit unorthodox, and we had to don reading glasses to compensate for its choice of fonts.
With drivers finally in place, we began our tests against the unit's 31 page-per-minute rated output for monochrome and 27 ppm rating for color. For mono, we sent a 31-page text file to the printer from a computer on the same local network and timed its first and last pages. For color, we added one graphic and highlighted some of the text in various colors, similar to a color brochure.
The mono test spit out the first page in 32 seconds and completed the job in 1:15. Sending the same 31-page job a second time (before the printer had a chance to go into standby mode) took 1:02, including time to first page.
Color tests also turned in results that were close to its rating.The MC562 works like most other MFPs. Four large, lighted buttons at the left side of the control panel await the desired copy, scan, print or fax function and the tiltable LCD adjusts accordingly. A 50-sheet reversible auto-feeder at the top also can be used with the included OCR software or scan both sides to feed a color scanner at up to 1200 x 1200 resolution.
Scans can be sent to email, a network PC or local USB stick. When text input is required, a miniature QWERTY keyboard is cleverly hidden underneath a small panel to the right of the numeric keypad. Its raised keys are large enough and adequately spread out for fast, error-free typing.
Paper jam locations are illustrated by the LCD to help with clearing. The upper half of the unit pops up to reveal its four color toner cartridges, which can be replaced individually or removed at once in a basket for clearing jams. Toward the rear is the separate fuser unit, which also slides out easily. The unit is a relatively compact 17 x 20 x 18 inches, but requires about 28 inches of upper clearance for maintenance. All controls and feeds face front.
For a small office or department in search of a low-cost, high-speed two-sided, network-ready multifunction Postscript color printer, copier, scanner and fax that's versatile and easy to use, the CRN Test Center recommends the OKI Data MC562w. It's covered by a three-year warranty and live 24/7 technical support.