When Ricoh first announced its Gelsprinters, at the beginning of 2007, we were immediately interested by the technology and wanted to get hold of a sample for review. However, there were considerable delays getting the machines on sale which, at the time, was put down to firmware problems.
These appear to have been resolved and a range of printers using the viscous inks is now available, with the Aficio GX2500 in the entry-level position. Ricoh's Gelsprinters can be thought of as inkjet machines but with thicker, pigmented ink, which dries quickly on contact with the paper. Ricoh is also proud of the belt feed mechanism inside its printers which, apparently, holds each sheet of paper flat electrostatically, while the ink is sprayed on.
The Aficio GX2500 is a substantial device, so much so we were surprised at the price of just over £100. It has about the same footprint as a colour laser printer, though it's not as tall as most and there's a substantial cut away at the front to reveal the paper tray.
A single, 250-sheet tray is fitted as standard and on this model there's no way of adding a second. The whole paper cartridge slides out from the front, before you can lift off its cover, which has an output tray integrated into its top.
To the right of the paper tray is a pull-down cover that reveals the four, large ink cartridges. These are rated at 1,000 pages for each colour and 1,500 for black. Above the cartridge bay is a control panel, comprising four function buttons and a diamond of menu controls. The two-line LCD display has no backlight and is not particularly easy to read, but does give useful feedback and status messages. At the back is a single USB socket, though a network adapter is available as the only option.
Setting up the printer requires no more than plugging in the four cartridges and letting it charge its ink system and print an alignment page. Software installation is very simple, too, as there's only a driver to install. This is well provisioned, with overlays, watermarks and multiple pages per sheet, though the ‘Automatic Standard' duplex capability that the spec sheet on the website claims, appears to be no more than a manual duplex check box, which leads to instructions on turning the paper over.
Perhaps printer manufacturers are at last getting wind of the fact that we're wise to excessive speed claims. Although Ricoh quotes the speed of the Aficio GX2500 as 28ppm for both black and colour prints, it claims this is for ‘continuous print' and also quotes a more reasonable 10ppm for black and 7.5ppm for colour as a default print speed, with speed priority set in the driver.