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Canon Laser Shot LBP3200

Some smaller Canon printers have been likened to toasters in shape, but the Laser Shot LBP3200 is more of a home bread maker. Tall with heavily rounded lines, it’s deceptively shallow from front to back.

We say deceptively, as the base-mounted paper tray sticks out at the back a significant amount. Paper feeds in a simple Z-path to eject from the top and come to rest against a steeply-raked, fold-up tray at the top of the machine. A multi-purpose slot in the front face of the printer is only suitable for a single sheet or envelope and the paper guides are not that easy to adjust. Finally, there’s a cover at the rear which folds down so you can recover from the occasional paper jam. Under test we saw no signs of paper mishandling, even when we manually duplexed our 20 page test file.

Indicators and controls are few, with a stylish blue LED showing power and print job in progress. The single USB port at the rear is the only connection. The front cover hinges down to reveal the combined drum and toner cartridge, which is good for 2,500 pages and is easy to fit and remove.

Installation could hardly be simpler, with a driver CD installing all the software necessary under Windows. The Canon supports neither MacOS or Linux, but does support versions of Windows back to 98.

The driver provides basic control of the printer and supports page imposition of two, four, eight and nine pages per sheet. The default resolution of 600dpi can be reduced to 300dpi for a quicker print, but there's no support for watermarks or overprinting, with stamps such as ‘Confidential’. No other software is supplied with the printer.

The LBP3200 is rated at 18ppm and under test we saw our 20 page document complete in one minute 17 seconds, so this is a pretty good estimate. The time is consistent and Canon’s claim of a first page out in under eight seconds was matched in our tests. It's good to see a printer that lives up to its specifications in this respect, as print speeds are generally heavily hyped.

The five-page mixed text and graphics job took 23 seconds, which is again very reasonable in a machine at the less expensive end the group. The five by three inch photo print took just nine seconds, one of the fastest on test.

Text print quality was very reasonable, with good density and little toner spread and graphics output was generally smooth with little banding. The greyscale graphics print was surprisingly grainy, largely due to the relatively low print resolution of 600dpi, but again there was little evidence of banding.

Canon acknowledges that this printer isn't quiet, with a rated noise figure of 55dBA when printing. We saw a peak of 62dBA under test, so again this printer can be quite intrusive if used as a personal device on a desktop.

Canon quoted a price of £70 for its EP-27 drum and toner cartridge and with a rated yield of 2,500 pages at five per cent cover, this gives a print cost per page of 3.5p. This figure is high and results in a total cost of ownership for 30,000 printed pages of over £1,000.

This is obviously a printer built down to a price, in comparison with machines like the Brother which is £50 more to buy. Its performance is reasonable, but there are obvious savings made in the lack of expansion – no extra paper trays or memory can be fitted – and in the facilities offered.

Verdict

Canon should be applauded for the honesty of its quoted print speed. However, although the purchase cost looks tempting, the overall cost of ownership is high.

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