A colour laser printer for under £150 is still a fairly rare animal and Konica Minolta's Magicolour 1600 W is aimed, according to the company, at the student and home office market. This makes it a direct competitor for some higher spec inkjet printers, so why should you go down the colour laser route?
The answers are usually print cost and speed and we'll look at both these aspects a bit later. This is quite a small printer for a colour laser, but quite a bit bigger than a typical single-function inkjet - more the size of an all-in-one.
Coloured in black and cream, the printer looks very neat when closed, but to print from it you have to open the top cover, which becomes the output tray, and the front cover, which then takes up to 250 sheets as a paper feed tray - there's no multipurpose feed. There's also no cover for the paper when the tray is open, so you'll probably want to store the paper away and close the machine up when not printing to avoid dust settling on the paper.
The control panel consists of Ready and Error indicators, as well as low-toner lights for each of the four colours. There's a job cancel button and another marked 'Rotate Toner', which is the first indication that this machine uses a carousel-based laser engine.
The carousel mechanism means there's only one imaging drum and each of the four colours is laid onto this by rotating its toner cartridge into position. These mechanisms tend to be cheaper to make, but the technique means each colour image has to be built up in four stages, which takes around four times as long as printing a single colour.
At the back of the printer is the mains socket, though the single data connection, USB 2.0, is annoyingly at the back of the right-hand side panel, so the cable is more obstrusive.
The Magicolor 1600 W comes with all its components preinstalled, so you can almost plug-in and go. In fact, of course, you have to install the supplied drivers, but this is the work of a few moments. Drivers for Windows from 2000 onwards are provided, though there's no support for OSX or Linux.
The Windows driver is well specified and includes support for poster prints and up to 16 pages per sheet, as well as overlays, watermarks and reasonable control for colour matching. There are also fields in the driver for duplexing and alternative tray options, though there's no mention of either of these features as options.