The quality of text print from this machine is good, with little spatter and clean, well-defined text at all sizes. Colours are very brightly reproduced though greens and blues are much darker than the originals and there’s some problem with black text registration over some colours as there’s obvious haloing.
Photo reproduction shows a slightly better colour gamut than with some colour lasers though colours once again are darker than they should be and reds look a little over-emphasised.
Both the Canon and HP versions of this machine claim noise levels of 47dBA but the only way we can believe these figures is without the peaks when paper is fed from the input trays. At these points, noise reaches around 10dBA higher, which makes these printers quiet in comparison with large workgroup machines but noisy if the alternative is a colour inkjet.
The fourth toner cartridges are rated at 1,500 pages for colour and 2,300 pages for black. Both these capacities are 100 pages higher than their HP equivalents, but it’s not clear whether that’s because they contain more toner or just that they’re measured differently.
Canon offers all four cartridges in a Value Pack at a slightly lower cost than the individual consumables, so we used this figure for calculating the colour page cost, but stuck to the individual cost for the black cartridge, which is lower than a quarter of the Value Pack price. Using this formula gives a page cost for black of 2.66p, including 0.7p for plain paper, and 11.5p for colour, applying the same 0.7p paper cost.
Again, these figures are lower than the costs for the HP machine, but not by much, and there’s obviously some allowance being made for the low purchase price of the Canon printer itself, by way of the relatively high cost of its consumables.
If you’re considering a colour laser printer for personal use and have both this Canon i-SENSYS LBP5050 and the HP LaserJet CP1515n on your shortlist, you should see slightly quicker and slightly cheaper prints from the Canon machine, but marginally better print quality from the HP, which also provides network capability for a fiver or so more than USB-only LBP5050.