capsule review

Oki Printing Solutions B6500n Monochrome Laser Printer

At a Glance
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    PCWorld Rating

Oki Printing Solutions' B6500n ($900 as of May 25, 2009) monochrome laser printer, like others in its price range (including the HP LaserJet P4014n. and the Lexmark T652n), is designed to be a workhorse. The B6500n could compete better with the others if it weren't hampered by various design problems.

Though the B6500n is fast, its print quality varies. Oki claims a top engine speed of 45 pages per minute; and in our tests it reached 40.1 ppm--better than most competitors could manage. Its graphics speed was a more typical 7.3 ppm, but the graphics quality dismayed us: Regardless of the type of image we printed, we saw washed-out shades and roughness or horizontal banding.

The B6500n comes standard with a 550-sheet input tray and a 150-sheet multipurpose tray, plus a 500-sheet output tray and an auxiliary, straight-paper-path rear output that holds 70 sheets. The unit doesn't include automatic duplexing, but Oki sells the B6500dn (with duplexer in place) for $1060. Not enough paper capacity? Add one or two more 550-sheet input trays for $312 apiece. Unfortunately, these trays were carelessly designed. Neither the guides nor most markings are color-coded, so it's easy to miss things like where to stop the length guide for letter-size paper. Extending the trays to legal-size requires unlocking two latches; the instructions for doing this are stamped into bottom of tray and are not colored, so they're hard to find, let alone read. Connectivity includes USB, ethernet, and even the older parallel and serial ports.

The control-panel design is almost perfect: clearly labeled and uncluttered. Oki provides four-way arrow buttons for navigating menus on the two-line, 16-character monochrome LCD. Which arrow direction to choose can be unclear, especially when the left/right arrows must be used for moving up or down.

The machine ships with a 6000-page starter cartridge. A 13,000-page standard-size replacement cartridge costs $236 (1.8 cents per page), and a high-yield, 22,000-page cartridges is a steal at $252 (1.1 cents per page). Oki has upped its replacement cartridge prices a bit as we post this review, but the resulting change in per-page cost is minimal.

Oki's B6500n is a decent, high-volume printer hobbled by some user-unfriendly features. Otherwise, though, it's comparable to like-priced models we've tested.

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At a Glance
  • PCWorld Rating

    Text speed is a big plus, but we expect better graphics quality from a printer this pricey.

    Pros

    • Blistering text speed
    • Cheap toner

    Cons

    • Expensive
    • Faded, flat-looking graphics output
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