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Print times were pretty good for a carousel-based colour printer, with our single page colour text and graphics print taking just 31 seconds. The five-page all-black print took a little longer at 38 seconds, giving a print speed of just under eight pages per minute. The 3 x 5-inch photo took exactly half a minute, which is again pretty impressive. Overall, prints were considerably faster than from the HP machine, using the same engine, but a different software driver.
Print quality is some of the best we've seen from an entry-level colour laser, with crisp, sharp black text and well reproduced solid colours, with no noticeable banding. The colours were a little too vivid in comparison with their on-screen counterparts, but at least we didn't see the blocking effect that the HP machine produced when printing the letterhead of our text and graphics sample. Photo samples were clear and detailed, though there was very slight banding in the sky of our test print.
Perhaps because this is a new machine, there are currently few places that sell its consumables, which comprise a photoconductor drum and four colour toner cartridges. The drum unit is rated at 20,000 black pages, or a quarter of that in colour, while there are two capacities of colour toner, 2,000 and 4,000 pages. The black toner comes in a single capacity of 5,000 pages.
As usual, we use the highest capacity consumables to get the best costs possible and in this case that’s 2.15p for a five per cent black page and 8.61p for 20 per cent colour. These figures are based on the RRP prices quoted by Canon, but we would expect to see the costs drop, once the printer has become established. Even these rated costs are not far above those for other machines in this section of the colour laser market, though.
The print quality is excellent and the price is very competitive, two factors which should make the Laser Shot LBP5200 a good buy. Against this, though, is the inconvenience of having the paper tray open all the time, the high noise level when printing and the current scarcity of consumables. Canon will probably fix the last of these as time goes on, but you need to balance the rest before deciding if this printer’s for you.