- Review Price: £253.64
Canon has been going through a particularly good phase with its printer line up, both in the inkjet and laser printer markets, and it has a strong range of mono and colour laser printers in the i-SENSYS brand. The LBP5100 colour laser comes in at a very competitive price, but has too much been snipped away from its feature-set to compensate?
The slightly-sloping, blank fronts of Canon’s i-SENSYS laser printers have become something of a trademark and this colour unit looks cleaner and blanker than most, thanks to a thin line of just eight LEDs at the top and no control buttons at all.
There’s a 250-sheet paper tray right at the bottom, with a supplementary, single-sheet feed virtually at desktop level. A second feed tray with the same capacity can be added as an optional extra. Paper feeds out to a fold-up tray, which cleans off the printer’s lines when folded closed. If you forget to open the tray before starting to print, pages fall harmlessly from a slot at the back of the printer, rather than jamming the paper path.
At the back of the machine there’s a single USB 2.0 socket – Ethernet is only an option – and a power socket mounted inconveniently high up the printer’s chassis, so the mains cable drapes across the desk.
Canon uses combined drum and toner cartridges, so setup and maintenance is very simple. Pull down the front cover and each of the four cartridges is lined up vertically within the case, with a transfer-belt attached to the cover itself. Cartridges slide in, in a silky smooth way and don’t even need to be held in place by latches.
The software supplied is basic, but includes a driver that supports all the features of the printer, including duplex print, multiple pages per sheet and watermarks.
Canon’s speed claims for the i-SENSYS LBP5100 are modest at 12ppm for black and 10ppm for colour. Our five-page black text print took 44 seconds, which gives a real-world speed of 6.82ppm, but when we increased the page count to 20 pages, the printer managed it in 1:58, or 10.17ppm, pretty close to the claim.
Colour print took only slightly little longer, with our five-page print completing in 46 seconds, so we would expect to see the same speed increase with longer documents. While this isn’t a rip-roaringly fast printer, at least it’s quite close to Canon’s specifications.
It’s unusual to have a colour laser printer at this price that supports double-sided print, but Canon’s implementation is also designed to print quickly. The printer effectively has two output slots and draws the page it’s about to print the second side of back in, at the same time as feeding out the previous, completed page. This speeds the whole process up and we completed our 20-side duplex test job in 2:14, only 16 seconds longer than the equivalent 20-page, single-sided test.
Text print is clean and densely black at the printer’s default resolution of 600dpi and there’s no sign of toner spatter, which would give it a fuzzy outline. Colour print is very bright which, while it makes graphics stand out, isn’t very accurate to any images printed. Blue in particular comes through much darker than the source colour and registration between black text and any underlying colour tone isn’t wonderful. While you can make adjustments in software for some compensation, it should be better by default.
Photo output, by contrast, is if anything slightly underplayed, with colours looking reasonably natural, but with a lack of life. We put this down to an unimpressive yellow content and dark print. A 15 x 10cm photo took 24 seconds to produce.
The only consumable cost is the drum and toner cartridges, which are available in a single capacity: 2,500 pages for black and 2,000 for each colour. With the prices we could find for them on the Internet, we calculate page costs of 2.4p for black and 9.01p for colour.
These costs put the LBP5100 pretty much in the middle of the field, when compared with colour laser printers at similar prices. We can find examples of machines costing more and less than this one, but it all depends on the consumables price you can find. It’s well worth shopping around to get the keenest quote.
Canon has produced a quality printer in the i-SENSYS LBP5100. It’s easy to maintain, is mid-range on consumable costs and lower than many of its rivals on initial purchase. While it may not be blisteringly fast and may need a little adjustment to get colour output right, its ability to print duplex pages with a minimum of fuss makes it an interesting proposition. You should add in potential paper savings to any purchase decision based on cost and you may well then find it’s the most economical choice.
Score in detail
Print Speed 7
Print Quality 8
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