The Oki C5100n colour LED printer has all the makings of a shared studio laser printer. It has USB 2.0 and ethernet interfaces, as well as plenty of paper capacity, all for a very reasonable £699. Unfortunately, it doesn’t support the Mac platform, it’s slow, and the printer’s output just isn’t good enough to meet the high quality demands of most creative professionals.
The C5100n printed colour images at 3.3ppm, about a half page behind our test-set average. Text printing was much worse, as the C5100n was able to produce pages at only 9.5ppm – about 4.4ppm behind the average and the slowest we’ve reviewed in a long while. This is not a printer you’d want to proof a technical document through.
Like all except the best colour laser printers, the C5100n didn’t produce great colour graphics. Our test sample images came out oversaturated. They were marred by a dotty texture throughout, and lacked subtle detail in highlights and shadows. However, you’re not going to overcome this problem without forking out considerably more cash for your printer.
The printer’s text output was sharp, and greyscale images showed good detail and shading, but were a bit streaky. Where the C5100n really ran into trouble was with narrow parallel lines, which it rendered as a checkerboard pattern.
Oki’s colour LED array design has its advantages. For one thing, the arrays come with a five-year warranty (the rest of the printer, like most colour lasers, is covered for one year). Basic use and maintenance are especially easy, because the toner cartridges drop straight down into slots next to the arrays, and the lid opens wide on hinges to expose the entire paper path. The control panel menus show up on a backlit LCD, though the menus themselves could provide better prompts.
There are two paper sources – a 300-sheet main paper tray and a 100-sheet auxiliary tray (though we had trouble operating the latch that opens the auxiliary tray). Options for the C5100n include a 530-sheet feeder and an internal duplexer, which is good for a bargain laser printer.
For the price, the C5100n is a good printer, but it is unlikely to offer the level of quality the creative professional needs.