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Colour laser printers are falling in price, almost as quickly as they're improving in quality. This new Canon, the Laser Shot LBP5200, costs just over £200 including VAT, which ought to get a few wallets readied. Pleasingly it provides very good colour prints, even of photographic subjects. At only twice the price of a competent colour inkjet, you get improved running costs and print speed. If you're not fussed about glossy photo prints, it could be a very practical purchase.
This is quite a compact machine, considering it produces full-colour output. It’s about the size of a microwave oven, only deeper, and its heavily rounded top cover gives the machine a slight retro look. A deep blue strip across the front of the machine serves as a cosmetic highlight.
Paper feeds from a 125-sheet multifunction tray through the printer and onto its top cover. I feel, as I did with the HP Color LaserJet 2820, that it's a cheapskate approach not to include an internal paper tray as standard. To have to keep the front open and the paper exposed to the elements makes the printer awkward to use. An optional 250-sheet internal paper tray can be fitted under the printer as a neater solution.
A single blue LED on the top cover lights up when the printer is switched on and a series of three red LEDs indicate various error conditions. At the back is a USB 2.0 socket, the only connection in the standard printer, though a network card is another option.
The Laser Shot LBP5200 uses the same engine as HP's Color LaserJet 2820, which we reviewed recently. Since HP has a long history of using Canon engines in its printers, we believe the engine is a Canon design. It's pretty straightforward to set up, once you realise the single button on the printer’s top rotates the carousel inside. You slot in each of four toner cartridges, having first fitted the photoconductor drum.
Software installation is very painless, as the driver itself is pretty simple and is the only software supplied with the printer. While it offers all the standard features you would expect in a modern colour laser, it lacks duplex, even as an option.
Just like the Color LaserJet 2820, this is a noisy machine. It sounds as if something’s gone wrong inside, but it hasn’t. It keeps churning out excellent prints, but with a string of noises like something out of Wild Wild West. When unattended, the printer periodically turns its carousel, too, which can be unnerving until you get used to it.