Oki Data: Clunky but reliable

The more colour laser printers come down in price, the more popular they become. Now, even high-end features like built-in automatic duplex printing and 10/100BaseT Ethernet networking are becoming standard features on some sub-US$1,000 colour lasers, like Oki Data’s C6000dn . (The company offers a non-duplex model of this printer for $150 less.) I love the printer’s crisp black text, quick print speeds, and its paper-saving, double-sided printing feature, but the C6000dn could use a little work on its graphics printing abilities.

Design and usability
Oki Data doesn’t seem to put much thought into aesthetics. Beige and boxy, the C6000dn pretty much looks like every other Oki printer we’ve tested. Its size is about average in terms of height and width; however, it’s pretty deep, due to the space needed for its in-line toner cartridges.

This printer is easy to set up. Simply choose a USB 2.0 or 10/100BaseT Ethernet cable and connect it to your Mac. Then use the included installation CD to install the print drivers. When attached via Ethernet, the C6000dn was recognized automatically via Bonjour. The printer can be used with Apple’s generic PostScript printer driver, though printer-specific features like duplex printing and colour-quality options are not accessible through the generic driver.

The printer comes with one paper tray, which holds 300 sheets, but it can be upgraded with a second tray, giving you an additional 530-page capacity for $184 more.

We conduct our speed trials over Ethernet when it’s available, and we found the Oki C6000dn to be a quick all-around printer. Taking 23 seconds to print a one-page Word document, the Oki was substantially slower than some recent Xerox and Brother printers we’ve tested (they were able to print a single page in 14-15 seconds), but the C6000dn made up time on longer jobs, taking just 12 seconds longer to print a 10-page document. Using the built-in duplex printing feature to print the 10-page job on both sides of the paper took only 8 seconds more–a total of just 43 seconds. With PostScript built in, the C6000dn also zipped through our PDF and Photoshop tests at an impressive clip, taking less than a minute to print our 22MB Photoshop file and about 36 seconds to print our four-page PDF test file.

Black text quality was impressive, too–it was very sharp and legible at the default 600-dpi resolution. Coloured text was a little less sharp in our graphics test. Photographic images, though smooth for a colour laser, were a bit too red. The printer was able to print fine lines, though slight angles were noticeable in curved lines.

How we tested: We ran all the tests with the laser printer connected via 10/100BaseT Ethernet to a 2.66GHz Mac Pro, with Mac OS X 10.4.8 installed and with 1GB of RAM. We recorded the time it took the printer to print a one-page Word document and a ten-page Word document, as well as the time it took to print a 22MB Photoshop image and a four-page PDF. A panel of experts examined samples of the printer’s output to rate its print quality as either Superior, Very Good, Good, Fair, or Poor in comparison to the output of past photo printers we’ve tested.

Buying advice
The Oki Data C6000dn is a fast, affordable colour laser printer with networking and tree-saving duplex printing included as standard features. The printer displayed a few problems with our graphics tests, but if most of your print jobs are multiple-page, text-heavy documents, the C6000dn is definitely worth a look.

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