At a Glance
- Inexpensive; 24/7 toll-free tech support
- High maximum paper capacity
- Slow; awkward multipurpose tray
- Skimpy starter-size toner cartridge
The tradeoffs on this low-cost unit include slow print speeds and some design drawbacks.
The middle-of-the-road Oki B420dn monochrome LED printer (which uses a page-wide array of LEDs, instead of a moving laser beam, to produce results similar to those of a monochrome laser printer) is neither fast nor flashy. As long as speed isn’t a top priority, however, this machine is a reasonable choice for a small workgroup that prints both text and graphics.
The $429 (as of May 25, 2009) jet-black unit has some nice features for the price. Together, the multipurpose tray and the main paper tray hold 580 sheets. You can purchase an additional 530-sheet tray for around $185. The control panel consists of a two-line, monochrome LCD and four circular, color-coded buttons with word labels. (An unlabeled button to the left of the LCD appears to be part of the controls but is in fact the cover release button.) I didn’t have any difficulty figuring out how to use the control panel, but I appreciated the user guide’s clear, comprehensive explanations. I also liked the 24/7 tech support that Oki offers.
The design of the multipurpose tray includes several fold-out parts of questionable durability. It also won’t close if the paper-width guide is set to a width of less than 8.5 inches.
The B420dn’s print speed dipped below the average for all monochrome lasers we’ve tested: 26.9 pages per minute for text (not far from Oki’s claim of 30 ppm), and 6.5 ppm for graphics. Some photos appeared grainy and lacked contrast, while others showed a fine degree of smoothness and detail. Text, not surprisingly, looked black and crisp.
Two sizes of high-yield replacement cartridges are available for the B420dn: a 7000-page cartridge for $117 (1.7 cents per page) and a 10,000-pages cartridge for $160 (1.6 cents per page). The unit ships with a paltry 1500-page starter cartridge, so be prepared to shell out for replacement toner sooner than you might normally expect.
The Oki B420dn delivers what it promises, and is economical to run over the long term. Compared to other printers we’ve tested, however–such as the HP LaserJet P2055x and the Lexmark E460dn–it’s a bit slow.