Oki C330dn LED Printer Falls Short in Color Quality and Cost
By Jon L. Jacobi and Melissa Riofrio
At a Glance
Crisp text quality
Standard automatic duplexing (two-sided printing)
Pricey color toner
Mediocre color graphics
This low-priced workgroup model balances good speed and features with merely tolerable color quality and toner costs.
The Oki C330dn color LED printer (a laser-like technology) is competitively priced for small offices or small workgroups at just $400 (as of October 22, 2010). Compared with other color laser and LED printers we’ve tested, however, it falls short on color–both in the quality and in the cost of toner.
The C330dn installed quickly on our test PC, but it fumbled on our Mac. The Mac installation was a poorly documented, labyrinthine process that required opening several folders and selecting oddly named installation packages. After we made a few educated guesses as to which install file to run, added the printer manually when it was connected via ethernet (the printer added itself automatically when we attached it via USB), and installed the Mac Rosetta framework that the driver relies on, things went smoothly. Oki now offers a downloadable update, eliminating the need for Rosetta.
Speed was average for a small workgroup printer overall. Pages containing mostly text and a few simple grayscale graphics averaged 15.2 pages per minute on the PC and 13.7 ppm on the Mac. Also on the Mac, our four-page PDF with mixed text and color took 4.6 ppm. Small photos from the PC averaged a peppy 3 ppm on plain paper and 2.4 ppm on glossy paper. The larger, higher-resolution photo that we print on the Mac came out at a midrange 1 ppm.
Output quality was somewhat disappointing. To the C330dn’s credit, text looked black, crisp, and a little shiny. Color graphics, on the other hand, showed noticeable banding and graininess. Flesh tones appeared ruddy and cartoonish. Grayscale areas seemed noticeably brown; changing the driver to standard mode produced true grays. The results would be passable for mainstream business graphics, but we wouldn’t recommend this printer for photos.
The C330dn’s configuration is adequate for a small office and has options for expansion. If you’re expecting a high workload, you can add a second 550-page bottom tray for another $160. The standard paper handling includes a 250-sheet bottom-mounted tray, a 100-sheet multipurpose tray, and a 150-sheet top output tray. The only thing we missed was better access to the paper path to clear jams; you might need to remove toner cartridges and other elements if the paper gets stuck in the wrong location. The front controls–including a two-line monochrome LCD and a cursor rocker button–are minimal but easy to use, as are the printer driver and the color/gamma correction utilities.
The toner costs edge higher than we’d like. The price for black toner is average, at 2.8 cents per page (the 3500-page cartridge costs $97.60). The 3000-page cyan, magenta, and yellow cartridges cost $146.30 apiece, or a high 4.9 cents per color per page. In total, a four-color page would cost 17.5 cents.
Like many other low-cost color workgroup printers, the Oki C330dn is a mixed bag. Its photo quality is disappointing, but its toner costs are tolerable. One competitor, the Dell 1350cnw, produces far better photo quality than the Oki C330dn–but its toner costs are exorbitant.