- Very fast; wide-format capability
- Low cost per page
- Very expensive; design can be confusing
- Documentation lacks thoroughness
Wide-format printing makes it special, but a printer this costly should be better designed.
Speed, above-average print quality, and the ability to perform wide-format printing make the Oki Printing Solutions C8800n color LED printer attractive to corporate workgroups that have need to print graphics or marketing materials frequently. Unfortunately, the printer’s very high price and ease-of-use issues prevent it from claiming a spot near the top of our rankings.
In performance tests conducted by the PC World Test Center, the C8800n was very fast, printing black text on plain paper at 26.5 pages per minute and graphics at 5.4 ppm. (Printing on tabloid-size paper would undoubtedly take longer.) The output quality wasn’t quite as good: Text looked crisp and black except in closely spaced fonts. Photos looked oversaturated and sometimes grainy, even on special paper.
As you’d expect of a wide-format printer, the Oki handles a range of paper sizes– from letter/A4 to tabloid/A3 size in the standard 300-sheet paper tray. An optional, 530-sheet input tray is available for $379. The main output tray holds 250 sheets.
But a confusing design and careless documentation mar the printer’s ability to accommodate sheets of different dimensions. The control panel–a small grouping of buttons plus a two-line, monochrome LCD–offers no on-site cues for calling up the menus. (You’re supposed to press the ‘Enter’ key.) If you’re looking for an overview of the menu subcategories and options, you might be nonplussed to see them listed in different order in the two printed guides, as well as in the menu map you can print from the machine. When queried, Oki didn’t share our concern–but to us, this inconsistent treatment seems careless.
By far the worst example of both problems involves the 100-sheet multipurpose tray. The user guide tells you to open the door to the wrong area (the front paper path), an action that makes the multipurpose tray fall open with a crash into an unusable position. Oki confirmed this error in the user guide and promised to correct it. There are no instructions for closing the tray, even though this operation entails folding the parts in a specific sequence. In this case, Oki seemed to think that leaving users to learn by trial and error was acceptable. The accompanying rear output tray has a similar design and, on our test unit, was difficult to open.
The C8800n’s separate toner supplies and imaging drums help a little with the cost per page. The starter-size toner supplies have 2000-page lives. Replacement supplies have 6000-page lives yielding costs per page of 1.2 cents for black and 1.8 cents for each color. Add about a half-cent per color per page for each drum.
The C8800n provides a special capability and prints at high speed. Unfortunately those benefits aren’t enough to offset the unit’s high price and design quirks. We preferred another wide-format printer, the inkjet-based HP Officejet Pro K8600dn.