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Oki Printing Solutions C3530n Color Laser Multifunction Printer

At a Glance
  • Oki Printing Solutions Oki c3530n

    PCWorld Rating

    A low-volume office might tolerate the pricey toner, but the design could be a lot better.

Oki Printing Solutions' C3530n color LED multifunction juggles the same responsibilities as its competitors do, but unfortunately it drops more of the balls. Though it has a low purchase price, its consumables are extremely expensive. It's fairly fast, but its print quality is subpar. The machine also seems to fall short of Oki's usual level of build quality.

My initial experience with it was rocky. The printed software-installation guide called the required CD by a completely different name. Scant information on which items to install (the process isn't automated) made deciding how to proceed harder. Documentation for some of the key items, such as the MFP Setup Utility, was not provided with our unit, although Oki says it will begin including the information soon. 

Using the machine leads to further confusion. None of the control buttons have word labels, just icons that you may not understand. Few cues exist to help you navigate the menus via the monochrome five-line LCD. When you print, neither a blinking light nor an LCD message acknowledges the action. Even the toner cartridges require inserting one end in a certain way that's not documented clearly.

The design has other limitations, too. Though the 250-sheet main input tray is to be used all the time, it feels flimsy. Worse, the tray in our unit squeaked horribly when we moved it--and we could see plastic shavings coming off the side tracks from the friction. No additional input trays are available, nor is duplexing. On the bright side, the 50-sheet automatic document feeder is roomy and has a clever, sealed feeder mechanism that may reduce the risk of a jam on the scanner platen.

The C3530n's consumables are smaller (and thus even pricier) than usual. A 1500-page black cartridge and three 1000-page color cartridges ship with the machine. Replacing them costs $49 for black (or 3.2 cents per page) and $57 for each color (5.7 cents per page). A 2500-page black cartridge costs $70, or 2.8 cents per page; each 2000-page color cartridge costs $100, or 5 cents per page.

The C3530n posted good speeds but disappointing output quality. In our tests it printed text pages at a rate of 20.3 pages per minute (ppm), exceeding Oki's spec. Graphics printed at a reasonable pace of 4.5 ppm. All of the output suffered from distractingly shiny toner. Text looked pretty good nonetheless, but photos printed on both plain and special paper seemed dark and a little grainy. Scanned images suffered from a foggy cast, and copies looked faint.

The C3530n's hidden consumables costs make it less of a bargain than it appears. Lexmark's X500n costs a little less and has fewer flaws.

--Melissa Riofrio

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At a Glance
  • PCWorld Rating

    A low-volume office might tolerate the pricey toner, but the design could be a lot better.

    Pros

    • Fast for its engine speed
    • Very inexpensive to buy

    Cons

    • Confusing installation and controls
    • Dark photos; costly toner
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