- Review Price: £1489.88
Colour lasers are a mainstay of business computing, but the majority of these are A4 devices, because the majority of paper is A4. However, there are good reasons to go one size up from this, to A3, to produce posters, proofs, even to fold pages in half for A4 publications and the C8600 is OKI’s cheapest answer to these needs, though the term cheap is relative.
The C8800 has very similar lines to the 8600, but with increased width and depth. The 300 sheet main paper tray is supplemented by a 100-sheet, multi-purpose tray and A4 paper is loaded in landscape mode and printed sideways.
Full size A3 sheets can be loaded in the same paper tray, though not at the same time. OKI has designed a nifty drum indicator into the front edge of the paper tray, so that when you select to show a particular paper size, contacts behind the tray let the printer know what’s loaded, too.
The two-line, backlit LCD display is coupled to a set of six operating buttons and two indicators, including a usefully bright attention light. At the back are sockets for USB 2, parallel and network connections, as Ethernet is standard on the C8800.
Although all the consumables come pre-installed in this printer, you have to remove the four, separate image drums and take out packing pieces and protective sheets, before reinserting them and clipping a toner cartridge onto each.
Software comprises the printer driver and a useful swatch utility, so you can compare colours on-screen with those produced by the printer. The driver includes support for watermarks and overlays and printing up to 16 pages per sheet.
Printing times for the C8800 are quite quick, though if the machine has been asleep, you could be waiting for it to adjust density, colour or temperature for up to a minute before feeding the first page. The display shows a pseudo-technical ADJUSTING TEMP message, when it means warming up.
OKI quotes print speeds for A4 and A3 pages, claiming 32ppm and 17ppm for black pages and 26ppm and 15ppm for colour ones. From this, you can see that this in-line printer doesn’t have to make multiple passes to print colour.
Our A4 test prints took 23 seconds for the five-page black text and 31 seconds for the five-page black text and colour graphics. These times equate to real-world print speeds of 13.0ppm and 9.68ppm, respectively, which are quite a way below OKI’s figures. We also ran A3 equivalents of our two print tests, again using back text and mixed text and graphics pages. This time we saw speeds of 7.89ppm and 8.57ppm for black and colour, again quite a bit slower than the spec sheet speeds.
Printed output is good, with sharp and dense blacks giving high-contrast pages. Colour is also clean and registration on overprints, with black text over colour, is better than from some of its competitors. Print takes on a slightly glossy sheen, which is not at all unattractive and only our test photo print brought the standard down.
Although, as we’ve often said, most customers don’t buy colour laser printers for photographic work, there are still quite a few problems with the C8800’s photo output. Noticeable banding across areas of sky is one of these and almost complete loss of detail in shadowed areas is another. There’s a good level of detail in the foreground to the image, but the colours show a reduced gamut and give a rather over-accentuated, seaside-postcard effect.
Print quality on A3 pages is very similar to that on A4, as you’d expect, and the printer is definitely better at bright bold colours, than more subtle shades.
You’ll need to replace toner cartridges every 6,000, five per cent pages and the image drums they clip into every 20,000 pages. The transfer belt needs changing every 80,000 pages and a fuser unit, which may be a lifetime components if the printer is in a low-duty environment, should last 100,000 pages.
Adding up all the different consumables gives a cost per five per cent page of 2.16p and for a 20 per cent page, it comes out at 6.84p. Both these costs are for A4 pages and both are competitive against the C8800’s main rivals.
This is a good printer in most respects, with very reasonable running costs and good print quality on all but photographic output. Although it doesn’t match its manufacturer’s claimed print speeds, few printers do and its real-world speeds are sufficient for general office needs. You do pay a lot for the facility of printing A3 pages, though, which when all’s said and done, are only twice as big as A4. That’s not reflected in the asking price, though much of the technology is the same for both capacities of printer.
Score in detail
Print Speed 8
Print Quality 8