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Ricoh is probably not one of the first names you think of for colour laser printers, but the company makes a good range and the SPC220N is at the lower price end, at under £300 including VAT. It's a relatively compact machine with modern lines and its in-line print design means it can print colour as fast as black and white.
The SPC220N is a well-styled, small-footprint, small-workgroup, colour laser printer. The simple, but well laid-out LED indicators under a black strip along the front of the machine fit well into the multiple curves of its cream and grey case. At the bottom of the front panel is a 250-sheet paper tray with an inset single-sheet feed slot. Paper feeds to the usual indent in the top cover of the machine. At the back are slots for USB 2.0 and Ethernet sockets, all behind a clip-off panel so just the cables show.
The printer comes with its four toner and drum cartridges pre-installed, but you need to remove each in turn to pull off their protective covers before refitting them. This is easy to do as the top cover lifts up to the vertical and each of the cartridges slide in and out very precisely. The fuser unit is available at the front, once you've folded down the machine's front cover.
Software installation is simple, as Ricoh only provides a driver and what it calls a Smart Organising Monitor. The driver is well laid out and includes options to print multiple pages per sheet, to collate printouts and to handle manual duplexing – there's no automatic duplex available even as an option. You can select to use paper from different trays for the first and subsequent pages in a job, if you have the second – optional - 250-sheet paper tray fitted.
The Smart Configuration Monitor shows toner levels, paper levels, a count of the pages printed and details of the printer’s network IP address. This is all very handy if the printer is being used on a network as its status can be viewed from any networked PC.
Ricoh rates the Aficio SPC220N at 16ppm for both black and colour print. Our five-page text print took 34 seconds, which equates to 8.82ppm, and the five-page text with colour graphics print took a second less, giving 9.09ppm. However, when we ran the 20-page text print, which completed in 1min 32s, the speed increased to 13.04ppm, quite close to the rated speed. Whether you’ll regularly print documents of over 20 pages on a colour laser with a 250-sheet paper tray is debatable, though.
A 15 x 10cm photo print also took 34 seconds, a bit longer than some competitive machines, but still reasonable, as colour photos will be a less frequent requirement than text and business graphics.