- Review Price: £996.60
Colour is more and more the standard for workgroup printing in modern offices. Although these printers aren’t cheap, they’re fast and very versatile. Kyocera Mita’s FS-C5400DN may be an odd-looking beast, but it offers most of the facilities needed for office print.
And it certainly is a strange shape. It sits very high off the desk, even though its in-line colour laser mechanism sits horizontally inside the case. The front section of the printer, which includes the control panel, offers a large drop from the paper exits slots onto the output tray on its top surface. This means substantial print jobs can be run unattended.
The control panel is a great example of good design, with a bitmapped, backlit LCD display, which has room to show plenty of status information at a time. The diamond of menu navigation buttons works as expected to navigate sensibly-conceived menus and you also have direct access to displays of toner and paper levels.
The paper tray at the bottom of the front panel can take a full 500 sheets of paper at a time and a pull-down, multipurpose tray offers an additional 150-sheet feed.
At the back are sockets for USB and Ethernet, but for some reason the USB drive socket, useful for walk-up print, is also positioned right at the back of the left-hand side of the machine. Why it’s not on the front panel, where it would be far more convenient, is beyond us.
The photoconductor drum is a lifetime component and uses Kyocera Mita’s patented ceramic coating, so should be good for 300,000 pages. This means that the only components you need to add to set the machine up are the four toner cartridges. Although these have half the yield of the standard replacement components, you’re still talking about 8,000 black pages and 6,000 in colour.
The software CD supplied with the machine didn’t appear to contain the driver for the FS-C5400DN, but only for the earlier FS-C5200DN and FS-C5300DN models, but it was available from the Kyocera Mita support site and offers both PCL 6 and Postscript Level 3 in emulation. We tested with the Windows XP drivers, but support is also available for OS X 10.2 and above, and for UNIX and Linux in various configurations.
The FS-C5400DN is rated at 35ppm for both black and colour print and, while we couldn’t reach this speed, our five-page black text print returned 18.75ppm and the longer, 20-page document upped this to 26.67ppm. The five-page black text and colour graphics job took just 17 seconds, giving a speed of 17.64ppm and a single page, 15 x 10cm photo completed in 10 seconds.
These speeds are some of the fastest we’ve seen from a colour laser printer and should keep up well with the requirements of even a busy office. The machine has full duplex built-in and, with a novel paper-feed mechanism, has a paper reverse slot as well as an output slot, so can feed sheets in different directions at the same time. This meant that our 20-side document returned a speed of 18.46spm, on a par with the five-page, single-sided, black text document. You could happily set duplex print as the default, to save paper.
The quality of prints from the machine is very good. Black text from the 600dpi print engine is clean and sharp and colour graphics are intense and visually arresting and are well registered, overall.
Even the photographic sample, often a strain for colour lasers, looks more natural than many we’ve seen. Although areas of variegated colour looked slightly patchy and some detail was lost in darker, shadowed areas, taken as a whole the photo sample was better than from many colour lasers we’ve looked at recently.
As we said, the only consumables on this machine are the 16,000 page black toner cartridge and the 12,000 page colour ones. Although consumable prices have yet to show any reduction from competitive pricing, using the SRPs quoted by Kyocera Mita, the machine still only costs 1.59p for a black ISO page and 5.09p for a colour one.
The black cost is low compared with most of the machine’s competitors and the colour cost is running at around half the price of many others. Kyocera Mita has always managed to offer low cost of ownership, but from these figures, this machine is exceptional.
The FS-C5400DN is hardly an impulse purchase, but for anybody who needs colour output in a busy office environment, the overall package is hard to beat. Well configured from the outset, the machine is also very expandable, with up to four extra 500-sheet trays available as options. And, while it’s daft to put the USB drive socket at the back, its speed and the quality of its print are the important factors in the product overall and in this market it deserves a recommendation.
Score in detail
Print Speed 10
Print Quality 8