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Adjustment of brightness and contrast is made using simple sliders and a greyscale image within the driver shows (in real time), the effects that these changes will have. You can also select a variety of parameters for a particular print job and save them as a ‘profile’. There are a number of predefined profiles provided by Kyocera for popular jobs, such as two pages per sheet printing and printing an overhead transparency.
Our print speed tests reveal a machine which is not particularly fast, despite its claim of a top print speed of 16 pages per minute. It completed our five-page text print in 40 seconds, giving a page rate of around 7.5ppm. When we repeated the text print test – we normally take an average to allow for any warm-up effects – it completed in 36 seconds.
We saw the same four-second difference in the text and graphics and photo prints, indicating that the pages are loaded into the printer's internal 16MB buffer. For most people, this time saving won’t have a big effect, though, as with a personal printer most jobs are one-offs.
The text and graphics print completed in just over 18 seconds and the photo print took only a little longer, at 21 seconds. These are not bad times, though a little slower than some of the FS820’s competitors.
Print quality is only fair. Text print is over-heavy, with some spatter around the edges, though detail in small font sizes is good, with no break up even of slim serifs and strokes. Business graphics are reasonably clean, though there is some patchiness in areas of dark tint. Areas of continuous tone in photographs output very smoothly from light to dark, though there is perceptible banding across these greyscale prints.
You can buy cartridges containing enough toner for 2,000 or 6,000 pages though, oddly, the printer is provided with enough for 3,000. The cheapest source we found for a 6,000 page toner cartridge is £61, giving a cost per five per cent cover page of 1.49p. This is considerably lower than any other laser printer we've tested in the last six months, most of which have a black page cost of over 1.8p.
The FS-820 is a new departure for Kyocera and lends support to the company's argument that its printers are a lot cheaper to run than its main rivals. With an asking price of under £150, you don't pay for the savings in the initial purchase cost, either. Our only real query is the print quality of black text, but the over-heavy toner placement may reduce with use.