Ricoh Aficio BP20N
At a Glance
With its smooth, white finish, the Ricoh Aficio BP20N looks classy. It's a little pricey at $349 (as of 1/13/2006) for a small office laser, but it's easy to use and produces sharp-looking text. Its minimalist control panel consists of a single cancel button and two lights.
When you look at the BP20N from the front, you might think the printer has a very small footprint--but it doesn't. It isn't huge, but the printer's standard 250-sheet paper drawer extends into a bump at the rear that also houses the power supply and connectors. A secondary paper tray folds down from the front to accommodate up to 50 sheets of alternate paper, or a short stack of 5 envelopes--so you don't have to feed them individually as you have to on so many other printers. A rear exit drops down onto the bump, providing a flatter paper path to avoid creasing thicker media. You can add a single optional 250-sheet paper tray for $144, bringing the maximum paper capacity up to 550 sheets.
Replacement toner cartridges rated for 5000 pages by Ricoh may seem expensive at $110 each, but their integrated drum assemblies mean there are no other parts to replace. This keeps maintenance simple and avoids further costs, letting you achieve a reasonable cost per page of just 2.2 cents.
The BP20N doesn't win any prizes for performance. At 17 pages per minute for text printing, it ranks about average among the small office printers we've tested over the past few years, but slower than many we've tested recently. Graphics pages crawled out at a mediocre 6.4 ppm.
The printer achieved good text and line art scores in our subjective quality tests, but didn't cope so well with graphics. I saw nicely formed lettering, with only slightly fuzzy edges and a bit of stepping in diagonals. Solids were smooth and consistent. Some narrow banding affected blocks of both vertical and horizontal closely spaced parallel lines. Narrow banding marred our grayscale image, which also came out too light, but did contain some nice detail and textures.
The straightforward and attractive Aficio BP20N can make an easy addition for supporting small workgroups on your network, particularly if you already have other Ricoh office equipment.