Text print quality is fair, though not as densely black as some machines we’ve looked at recently. It's possible to see white paper fibres through text characters, which gives a slightly grey colouring to text. In general use, though, this isn't particularly noticeable.
Print of colour graphics is very good, with colours looking dense, but not over-dark. Registration of black text over colour backgrounds is also good, giving a professional finish overall. Photo reproduction is fair, with good levels of detail and little of the seaside postcard effect that can result from a limited colour gamut. Large areas of varying colour appear a little blotchy, but the 600 x 2,400dpi top resolution of the machine does a fair job.
Although the overall noise level measures at a peak of 61dBA, which isn't excessively loud, most of this noise comes from two large fans fitted to the side of the machine. These power up as soon as it starts printing and generate quite a bit of airflow, as well as noise. Ricoh rates the machine at under 1.3kW when printing, and this is high for even a colour laser printer, where figures of 500-800W are more normal.
All four drum and toner cartridges are rated at 2,000 ISO pages, so running costs are relatively easy to work out. Consumables are not as widely available as with some other machines, so there isn't the competition to reduce Internet prices and the best we could find for the black cartridge was £67, with each of the colour cartridges coming in at £98.
This gives a cost per page for black print of 3.34p and a cost for colour of 10.04p. Both these figures are high, with typical prices from rival machines of around 2.5p and 8p, respectively.
Ricoh’s Aficio SPC220N colour laser printer has a lot going for it. It has a small, convenient footprint, is very easy to service and produces good quality print at close to its rated speed. On the downside, it's more expensive to run than some of its competition and a 250-sheet paper tray on a workgroup printer is under-specified. In these times of extra economies, it would be good to see a duplexer available as an option, too.