At a Glance
- Inexpensive, automatic duplexer included
- Excellent documentation
- Slow compared to the competition
- Unwieldy paper tray design
An automatic duplexer enhances this entry-level printer, but the paper tray design is difficult.
Aside from a few cosmetic differences, the Ricoh Aficio SP 3300DN monochrome laser printer closely resembles the Xerox Phaser 3250/DN. Both models target the small-office/home-office market. Their input and output trays, installed memory, and control panels are identical; and both come with automatic duplexing. As of May 25, 2009, the Aficio SP 3300DN cost $269–$80 less than the Phaser 3250DN. It also costs $31 less than the highly rated Brother HL-5370DWT, though its prints can’t match the graphics quality of that model’s output.
Where the Ricoh and the Xerox differ most (besides in price) is in speed. The Aficio SP 3300DN’s tested text speed of 28.5 pages per minute is a little faster than the Phaser 3250/DN’s 27.7 ppm, but its graphics speed is significantly slower: 5.6 ppm versus the Phaser 3250/DN’s 7.0 ppm. Both printers earned similarly average scores on our print quality tests. Xerox provides 24/7 toll-free phone support, while Ricoh offers more limited hours. And finally, the Ricoh printer doesn’t include Linux drivers, while the Xerox unit does.
The Aficio SP 3300DN’s toner is pricier than the Xerox Phaser 3250/DN’s. After you’ve exhausted the 2000-page starter cartridge, you’ll have to spend $117 (or 2.3 cents a page) for a 5000-page replacement cartridge. That may not be a major issue for a low-volume office, but Xerox sells the same cartridge for its Phaser 3250/DN for $10 less.
The SP 3300DN is reasonably straightforward to use. Its thorough electronic documentation includes a library of troubleshooting animations. The control panel’s single button and two small LEDs lack labels, so you’ll have to consult the user’s guide to see what’s what. If you send a print job while the printer is in an error state, a status monitor pops up and tells you what to do–reload paper, remove jam, or whatever. That’s the good news. The bad news is that the main, 250-sheet paper tray is a disaster. The paper guides are so hard to use that it’s almost not worth trying. Your best bet is to set them for letter or legal, and never touch them again. If you need to print on different sizes of media, your best bet is to use the manual-feed slot.
The Ricoh Aficio SP 3300DN represents an impressive value for the price. But unless you need its slightly faster text speed or feel strongly about saving $80 on the purchase price up front, we recommend that you opt for its near-twin, the Xerox Phaser 3250/DN.