Konica Minolta magicolor 2500W
At a Glance
Konica Minolta Magicolor 2500W
This is the lowest-cost color laser to date, yet it offers better print quality than models costing several times more.
The Konica Minolta magicolor 2500W is essentially the same as the 2400W model we originally reviewed in March 2005 except that the price has plunged to $300 (as of 10/6/2006)--the lowest we've seen yet for a color laser printer. The only major difference is that you can now add an internal network adapter for $119, which brings the total cost up to the price of low-end color lasers with built-in networking.
Like its predecessor, the 2500W is a GDI-based printer that depends on your PC to render the pages. It works only with Windows PCs, not Macs. The simple control panel has two buttons and several lights, including individual indicators for each toner. The single paper tray holds just 200 sheets or 10 envelopes. There's no manual bypass, so you have to swap paper in the tray to print on more than one type. Konica Minolta offers no additional paper-tray or duplexer options. The paper tray extends out the front of the printer, making the footprint larger than it looks. However, when you stash the paper in your desk and flip up the tray, the 2500W fits into a very small space.
The 2500W continues to produce higher-quality output than printers costing several times more. In our quality tests, it produced heavy-looking text, but with nice, sharp edges to the well-formed characters. Line art was also quite dark, though some of the closest parallel lines merged. Our grayscale print had a brown tint and was a little grainy, especially in lighter areas. On plain paper, our color samples had natural colors and plenty of detail in the darkest areas, despite some posterization (lack of smooth gradient). At its best quality setting on Konica Minolta-certified glossy paper made by NCR, photos had smooth tones, accurate color, and good shadow detail. However, they looked a little grainy, with some dithering patterns visible in solids.
In our performance tests, the 2500W printed text at 13.9 pages per minute, color on plain paper at 3.1 ppm, and color on glossy paper at 1.8 ppm--rates that are all close to average for the printers we've tested recently.
The printer comes with toner cartridges rated for just 1500 pages each. High-capacity replacement cartridges rated for 4500 pages cost $85 for black and $130 for each color. You can save a little extra by purchasing all three of the color cartridges packaged together for $349. In addition, the $149 drum cartridge has a lifetime of 45,000 black pages or 11,250 color pages, bringing the estimated page cost to 2.2 cents for black and 11.0 cents for color. Those costs are cheaper than the averages for the seven color lasers we tested this month (September 2006) and very reasonable for a budget-priced printer.