The Gels print technology is even more intriguing with duplex print, where the paper makes a 180-degree turn during printing. Because the ink is that bit more viscous, it dries quicker and there's very little delay between printing the first and second sides of each page.
In fact, the paper feeds back through without any noticeable pause and our 20-page document, printed as a 10-page, 20-side double-sided test, produced a speed of 8.63 sides per minute, nearly as quick as the single-sided equivalent. This is a very good speed for a printer in this price bracket and rivals duplex laser printers costing a lot more.
Although Ricoh doesn't recommend specific photo papers for this printer, we successfully used Epson Premium Glossy Photo paper, designed for its own pigmented inks, with the Aficio GX e3350N. Our test photo print reproduced well, though the dither pattern in the image was obvious – more so than in the plain paper prints, completed in Normal mode. Colours are reasonably natural and detail is still apparent in darker areas of the image.
A colour photo print on plain paper also reproduced reasonably and this machine would be suitable for printing materials such as estate agent particulars, including colour photos.
Plain colour graphics are bright and dense, with little sign of any patterning and good registration of black text over colour backgrounds. Black text is reasonable for day-to-day correspondence, though there's some infill of small-looped characters like ‘a’s at small point sizes, particularly when text is emboldened.
Although the four ink cartridges are relatively costly, averaging £43 for the colours and £25 for black, they have high yields, with the black cartridge claimed to be good for 1,920 ISO pages and the colours yielding around 1,700 each. This gives a cost per page of 2.12p for black print and 9.65p for colour, including 0.7p for paper in each case.
The black print cost is low for a machine costing less than £200, but the colour print cost is higher than most, so the machine is most economical when used primarily for black print. Given its speed and relatively high yields, this is likely to be where it's used, anyway.
The GelSprinter technology is starting to show its value in this machine. The Aficio GX e3350N is around £100 less than the GX3000s was when we reviewed it, making the newer printer a much better proposition. Its strengths are speed, particularly when printing double-sided documents, ease of maintenance and low black text print cost. It's particularly good at printing colour without slowing down and for typical small business tasks gives a very good account of itself, at a very competitive price.