From our benchmarks, the C3100’s first page out is not that quick, suggesting that the rasteriser in the printer is slow to convert a page ready for printing. Once the conversion is complete, though, the page-on-page speed is quicker, though as usual, not as fast as the manufacturer claims.
This is because most manufacturers quote draft print speeds, which we’re not convinced are used much in small businesses, and don’t include the time taken by the software driver to prepare pages for printing. OKI quotes a mono print speed of 20 pages per minute, with 12ppm for colour. We produced our five page black text document in 31 seconds, giving a page rate of just under half the quoted figure.
Our mixed text and graphics document, in full-colour, took 23 seconds to print or just under 3ppm. Although these results appear lower than the manufacturer’s quotes, in relative terms they’re quite quick for a colour laser printer in this price bracket.
Black print quality is good, with text crisp and clean, with none of the spread associated with even high-quality, colour, business inkjets. Areas of solid colour in business graphics are not completely even though, and we noted mis-registration with black text over colour. Fortunately, there’s an option in the driver for true black overprint, but you have to remember to set it.
There’s a slight gloss sheen to both colour and black print which some people may not like, but it improves the look of photo-elements in prints. Photographs reproduce reasonably for a laser, with good detail but uneven fills and gradations of colour.
There are four different consumables that have to be factored into the cost of running the C3100. From the £26 toner cartridges, through the £68 image drums and £81 fuser to the £93 transfer belt, they all have different service lives, too.
When you work it all out, a 5 percent black page costs 1.8p, which is a good figure, even for a mono laser. A 20 percent colour page is 5.2p, again not at all bad. So, despite its low asking price, you don’t pay for it in over-expensive consumables.
This is an economical entry-level colour laser which would suit a small business like an estate agent or car mart, somewhere needing colour, but with photographic content ‘for illustration only’.