There's no shortage of affordable A4 colour lasers, but businesses that want the bigger picture can expect to pay a premium. Oki's latest C810n aims to break the mould, since it delivers support for A3 paper sizes at a price point starting on the right side of four figures - but also claims to be the smallest on the market.
Measuring 485 x 579 x 345mm (WDH), the C810n is the most compact A3 laser we've seen, and print speed isn't a casualty since it can churn out A4 pages at 32ppm for mono and 30pm for colour. Our real-world tests agreed with Oki's claims, with the printer turning out a 32-page A4 Word document on the 600dpi setting in one minute.
Colour print speeds were good as well, with our 24-page A4 DTP-style document and its colour charts, graphics and photos completed at 1,200dpi in 46 seconds for a shade over 30ppm. At the top interpolated 2,400dpi setting print speed dropped noticeably, with the same document averaging 17.5ppm.
Our tests confirmed the A3 quoted speeds of 17ppm for mono and 16ppm for colour, although choosing the top resolution will see these figures drop by around 30%. We also found time to first page varied, as all too often the printer adjusted its temperature prior to printing. This would result in a wait of about 20 seconds, but sometimes we didn't see the first page for nearly a minute.
The C810n delivers good print quality with crisp, sharp text across a range of font sizes. Our colour test chart showed only minimal stepping across colour fades, and grey shades using different mixes of cyan, yellow and magenta were faithfully reproduced. Colour photos benefit from a rich saturation, and the level of detail in darker areas is comparatively good. The cross-hatch banding effect characteristic of these printers was almost unnoticeable.
During printer setup, we weren't impressed when fitting the cartridges: the drum units are pre-charged, and if you're not careful when removing the transportation covers you'll end up with toner all over the place. Printer installation is handled nicely by an automated routine, and the web management interface is well designed and provides good access to configuration details and information on consumables.
And consumables aplenty there are, as you have toner cartridges, drum kits, fusers and transfer belts to replace. But printing costs pan out very well, with the printer delivering low costs of 1p for a mono page and 5.7p for colour. Oki also includes a package of management utilities, with the PrintSuperVision tool installing a web server from where you can remotely view and access all networked printers. Unlike the higher-end C830, the C810n doesn't support the optional hard disk so the secure print, secure erase and data encryption features aren't available with this family.
Compared with some of the monsters we've had in the Labs, the C810n is a remarkably compact A3 colour laser. It's also good value, with fast print speeds and fine output quality.