capsule review

Oki Data Oki C5100n

At a Glance
  • Generic Company Place Holder Oki C5300n LED Printer

Oki Data Oki C5100n
Photograph: Rick Rizner

The Oki C5100n color LED printer has all the makings of a shared office color printer--including a 100-gigabit ethernet interface and plenty of paper capacity--for a very reasonable $799. But the C5100n printed text slower than any other color laser printer we've tested recently, at only 9.9 pages per minute; that's about 5.2 ppm behind our test-set average. It managed to print color at a much more practical 4.9 ppm (1.2 ppm faster than our average). The slow text-printing speed might drag on a big workgroup, but smaller groups could live with it, so we recommend the C5100n only if you'll be sharing it with just a few colleagues. Or take advantage of the USB 2.0 port to keep it for yourself; its price makes the C5100n affordable for a home office. But note that the C5100n didn't excel in PC World's page-yield test; we calculated its cost per page at an expensive 15 cents, or about 2.5 cents worse than our average.

The C5100n generated sharp, clean text. However, its gray-scale photos lacked some subtle shading, and details were not terribly sharp. Like most color lasers we've tested, it didn't produce great color graphics; our test samples came out oversaturated, marred by a dotty texture throughout, and lacking in subtle detail in highlights and shadows. Where the C5100n really ran into trouble was with narrow parallel lines, which it rendered as a checkerboard pattern. But overall, the printer's output and performance make it a good bargain for the price.

Oki's color LED array design has advantages. For one thing, the arrays come with a five-year warranty (the rest of the printer, like most color lasers, is covered for one year). Basic use and maintenance are especially easy, because the toner cartridges drop straight down into slots next to the arrays, and the lid opens wide on hinges to expose the entire paper path. The control panel menus show up on a backlit LCD, though the menus themselves could provide better prompts.

Other pluses include two paper sources--a 300-sheet main paper tray and a 100-sheet auxiliary tray (though we had trouble operating the latch that opens the auxiliary tray). Oki Data sells an optional 530-sheet feeder for a reasonable $456, and an internal duplexer for $320.

PC World's test unit arrived without documentation or drivers, so we downloaded everything from the company's Web site. The on-screen manuals adequately cover most aspects of setting up and operating the printer, but they're full of dark, hard-to-read photos (illustrations are usually clearer), and we couldn't find instructions for installing the drivers.

For a small workgroup where demand won't outpace the slow print speeds and text is the primary use, the C5100n is a bargain.

Dan Littman

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At a Glance
  • Generic Company Place Holder Oki C5300n LED Printer

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