- Review Price: £591.00
If a consumer All-in-One combines a colour inkjet printer and a scanner, a business All-in-One should combine a colour laser printer and a scanner. Until recently, though, the best you could do was a mono laser. Epson is changing all that with the AcuLaser CX11N, the first in a new range of multifunction devices, this one based on the company’s C1100 colour laser engine.
It’s a fairly substantial machine, certainly one you don’t want to move around on your own. Although Epson has tried to integrate the two main components, it still looks like a colour laser printer with a colour flatbed scanner bracketed above. It makes the complete device pretty tall and placed on a desk, the scanner could be awkwardly high for shorter people to use. Better to invest in a printer trolley.
The control panel set into the front edge of the device has a well configured, five-line, back-lit LCD display, which is accompanied by a ring of menu controls, a number pad and separate buttons to start mono and colour jobs and to cancel running ones.
At the bottom of the front panel, a cover hinges down to reveal a 180-sheet paper tray, though this doesn’t pull out in the usual way. Instead, you lay the paper between the guides and slide it into the machine. Unusually, there’s no multi-purpose tray for feeding special media, though a secondary, 500-sheet tray is available as an option.
The scanner section is a conventional 600dpi flatbed, with no separate controls, other than a lock to prevent damage in transit. At the back are sockets for USB 2.0 and network connection, as by default the device is network-enabled.
Installation and maintenance is a bit fiddly, as you need to open both front and top panels and remove a series of covers for the four toner transfer rollers on the carousel. Toner cartridges slide in through the front, while the photo conductor drum slides in diagonally from the top. Since the scanner sits down quite tightly over the top of the printer, Epson has thoughtfully hinged it, so it can be folded up vertically, out of the way.
There’s a good range of bundled software, from Epson’s Creativity Suite to Presto! Page Manager and the print driver has been redesigned to offer good print support, including watermarks, image zoom and page imposition.
The AcuLaser CX11N uses a carousel-based laser engine, which means each of the four primary colours: cyan, yellow, magenta and black, is laid onto the page in turn, by rotating a carousel of toner cartridges. The technology is relatively compact, but theoretically should take four times as long to print a colour page as a linear engine, where all four cartridges sit in line.
In fact, the device produced very respectable print times, with our five page text document completing in 23 seconds (13ppm) and the mixed text and graphics taking just 18 seconds. Even the 10 x 15cm photo only took 19 seconds (3ppm). Although these times are all based on the printer being awake (it takes between 10 and 20 seconds to wake from sleep mode for a first job), they prove that a carousel-based colour laser isn’t necessarily slow.
Print quality is also high. Black text is crisp and dense and business graphics are vivid, with few signs of banding or other artefacts. Even colour photos, not most laser printers’ forté, are well reproduced with a high level of detail. Although the colour gamut available for toner is still some way off that for ink-jet, the images available from this device would be more than adequate for marketing, say, houses or cars.
There are two types of consumable in the CX11N, with 4,000 page independent high-capacity toner cartridges for the four colours and a separate photo conductor unit, rated at 42,000 black pages. This usage drops to 10,500 pages when printing colour, though, so you could be servicing the device quite regularly, if you use it as a workgroup resource.
We calculate a five per cent black page cost of just under 2p per print, with a 20 per cent colour page coming in at 8.17p. This is competitive for black print and a touch better than the HP equivalent on colour.
You may wonder why this machine, which uses all the same consumables as the AcuLaser C1100 reviewed earlier this year, has lower running costs. It’s because we’ve located a cheaper source for both toner cartridges and photoconductor unit, at www.morecomputers.co.uk.
The AcuLaser CX11N is a good, first venture into the small-business, colour multifunction device market. It’s quick, produces high-quality colour images, including more than passable photographs, and is very versatile. You’d be lucky to find a dedicated colour photocopier for the price of this far more flexible solution.
Score in detail
Print Speed 10
Print Quality 9
|Paper Size||A4, A5, Letter, Govt. Letter, B5, Half-letter, Executive, C5 Envelope, C6 Envelope, C10 Envelope, DL Envelope, Monarch Envelope, Custom Size|
|Rated Black Speed (Images per minute)||25 ppmipm|
|Rated Colour Speed (Images per minute)||25 ppmipm|
|Scan Resolution (Dots per inch)||600 x 600dpi|