Which printer's the best? You usually get what you
by Alan Zisman (c) 2002
First published in Business in
Issue # 640: January 28- February 4, 2002, The High Tech Office column
Promises of a paperless office seem to have
quietly faded away
along with the hype of frictionless e-commerce and other digital
In fact, our digital age seems to force us to consume more and more
as we print out e-mailed jokes for the office bulletin board, or slowly
are forced to recognize, as a colleague recently admitted to me, that
couldn't notice his mistakes unless he printed out a draft.
In many cases, the need to print forces us to make a
the colour of seemingly cheap but unreliable, slow, and
personal inkjet printers and the crisper office laser printers.
Hovering on the sidelines are colour laser printers
and robustness, but requiring a hefty initial buy-in for a hefty piece
of office equipment.
I recently spent a month with Okidata's new
C9200n colour printer.
Costing some $10,500 and weighing in at 75 kilograms, it counts as
in both dimensions; it's clearly too much printer for any home or small
office to even consider.
But while it took three of us to get it out of its
packing crate and
on to a table, it quickly proved it could be a powerful tool for an
Equipped with standard parallel and USB ports, it
could be configured
to run from a single computer, but it would be better to use the
network card, enabling everyone in the office to connect to it
Setup is reasonably straightforward, requiring
installation of four
separate fusers and toner cartridges, then calibrating their output.
setup, including the sometimes tricky network setup, went smoothly.
Inside the printer is what could be a reasonably
a 400 MHz PowerPC central processing unit with 128 MB of memory
up to a full Gigabyte of RAM). A 5 Gb hard drive is included to store
print jobs. (Oki also sells a C9200 model, without the hard drive and
card for $9,000.) Like other Oki products, it doesn't use a traditional
laser printer mechanism; instead, an LED array provides laser-quality
This unconventional mechanism has the advantage, Oki claims, of a
paper path. Pages are printed in a single pass, unlike the multiple
required by other designs. The result is a mechanism that can handle a
broad range of paper weights at higher speeds than standard designs.
The 9200 promises 26-page-per-minute output in black
and white, and
21 ppm for colour pages. In comparison, some other colour laser
output 6 ppm for colour. Full-colour pages seem to spew out at
speeds, faster than most printers do black and white.
Colour fidelity, with resolution of 600 x 1200 dots
per inch, was good,
though not quite near-photo quality. Large photos print with a glossy
that did not detract from the quality.
The printer can handle paper sizes up to 12 by 18
inches, along with
card stock up to 110 pounds. Second and third paper trays are optional,
along with a duplexing unit for double-sided printing, and a high speed
paper feeder. The toner cartridges are rated for 15,000 pages, and Oki
claims a cost of operation 15 per cent lower than its
Other models in the series are the C9200dxn ($11,250)
the duplexer and more memory, and the $12,300 C9400dxn with the
more memory, and a faster CPU to offer higher (1200 x 1200 dpi) print
Big and expensive, but this workhorse of a printer
could be a good way
to provide quick, no-compromise colour printing for the whole office.