Review: OKI Data's B721 Cranks Out The Pages

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OKI Data

The B721/B731  printers from OKI Data Americas are intended for small workgroups that do a lot of printing. These laser-quality PostScript network printers are rated at up to 280,000 pages a month and can crank out a small mountain of paper by the time the job's owner walks over to pick it up. Massive capacity and numerous paper-handling options would make either model in this pair a solid choice for the monochrome printing needs of a small business or department.

For testing, OKI sent the CRN Test Center the lower-end B721dn, which is rated to produce 250,000 A4 pages per month at 49 pages per minute; the B731 can produce 55 ppm. The tested printer was almost ready for action right out of the box; there were just a few tape strips and a lock tab to remove. Its gigabit Ethernet port--configured for DHCP by default--was ready for action within seconds of power-up. The Windows-only installation CD detected the printer on our test network and installed the drivers in just a few minutes.

Regardless of what we threw at it, the 49-ppm B721 held up its end of the bargain. It printed 25 pages of dense text in 29.6 seconds. It printed 50 of the same pages in 59 seconds. Next we ran similar tests with pages containing heavy text as well as an embedded image. Results were exactly the same. Prior to each speed test, a one-page job was sent to the printer to eliminate any warm-up time. We also subtracted the time-to-first-page, which was usually around 10 seconds.

As in all of its current printer models, the OKI B721 and B731 eschew the laser in favor of an LED light source to etch the printed image onto the drum. The rated average power consumption of the B721 is 850 watts with a 1,400-watt maximum. It uses 95 watts in standby mode and 17 watts in energy-saver mode. The base unit measures about 17 inches wide by 16 inches high by 19.6 inches deep. It's quiet enough to be in the same room as workers, but it's more odorous than most, so we'd recommend a location off in the corner somewhere. 

Both 1,200-x-1,200 models support Adobe PostScript 3 and PCL 5E. Both include Ethernet, parallel and USB interfaces and a Wi-Fi option. Both also include a USB port for walk-up printing with support for doc, pdf, tif and other file formats. With a firmware update the units also will support Apple AirPrint. We tested the printer with letter-sized paper, but it supports A4 in its main bin and legal through the multipurpose feeder. OKI claims a cost per page for the B721 of $0.0128, which compares favorably with published numbers for comparable units from HP and Lexmark. OKI's 25k-page, high-yield toner lists for $417; an 18k-page toner costs $360.

In its base configuration, the B721/731 can accept 530 sheets in its main tray plus another 100 in its multipurpose feeder. For $224 each, OKI offers optional second, third and fourth trays that each add 530 sheets, for a total potential capacity of 2,220 sheets including the multi. Alternatively, there's a 2,000-sheet feeder with casters for $700 list that can be added to one- or two-tray configurations for a total maximum capacity of 3,160 sheets.

At a list price of $899, including a one-year on-site warranty and 24/7 toll-free technical support, the B721 would be a solid choice for organizations with high-volume, high-speed printing requirements. 


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