Given the market this machine is aimed at, we decided to upgrade our standard tests and rather than using five and 20-page text and text and graphics jobs, we used 20-page and 60-page ones, instead. The machine is rated at 34ppm black and 26ppm colour, when printing A4 pages, but our tests produced real-world speeds of 26.5ppm and 19.4ppm for black and colour, respectively. In duplex mode, we still saw 21.2spm and, when printing A3 documents, speeds came out at 13ppm simplex and 11.5spm duplex.
We suspect part of the difference between our results and OKI’s is the fact that we include processing time in our tests, since you probably won’t be able to continue work, until the document is lying on the output tray. We’re pleased to see the new ISO standard for print speeds agrees on this point.
The quality of prints we produced varied. Black text was fine, with crisp, well-formed characters, but there were one or two problems with colours. Some of the colour tones we reproduced were quite a bit darker than from the original document, so much so that black text over a blue background, normally very visible, was hard to read.
Also, registration of black text over colour showed noticeable haloing, despite OKI’s automatic registration adjustment. When we copied one of our test pages, things were worse, with the blue graphic coming out several shades darker and the overlay text being unreadable. These kinds of problems could be mitigated against by control panel settings or, for scans, by making changes in the software receiving them.
Our photo print, at the machine’s default resolution of 600 x 1200dpi, is reasonable, though much of the shadow detail in the image is lost and there are patterning effects in the sky. Business lasers, and LED printers, are increasingly required to produce photo images and, although not a core part of their work, more work needs to be done on the range of colours they can reproduce.
When you pay that bit extra for your machine, you expect to claim back some of the total cost of ownership in low page costs and that’s certainly true with the MC860dn. Although there are four consumables: toner, drums, fuser and transfer belt, their prices are pitched so that we calculate a black page will cost 2.04p, including VAT and 0.7p for paper. Similarly, a colour page comes out at 7.64p. Both these costs are low for laser-type print.
The MC860dn is designed as a general-purpose office workhorse and it can certainly handle the throughputs it’s likely to see in a busy workgroup. While the speeds aren’t quite up to manufacturer’s spec – they rarely are – it’s the colour quality which is the more worrying. While business graphics are bright and attention grabbing, their fidelity to transmitted or scanned originals leaves something to be desired.