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Canon i-Sensys LBP3100 review

Our Rating :
Price when reviewed : £84
inc VAT


mono laser, 16ppm print speed, USB Hi-Speed, 197x372x250mm

A low-cost mono laser printer is ideal for homes and small offices where colour printing isn’t required, providing faster performance and lower running costs than the average inkjet.

This model is certainly faster than any sub-£100 inkjet, with an accurately quoted speed of 16ppm, but at 2.4p per page it’s not particularly economical to run.

Canon has refined its breadbin-shaped laser printers over the years, and the LBP3100 is smart, compact and practical. It plugs directly into the mains, with no power adaptor, and folds up into a neat cuboid when not in use. Even when loaded with paper, it takes up very little desk space. We tried printing with the output tray’s lid closed – something we can imagine doing by accident – and were impressed to see that the sheet slipped unscathed through a small slot rather than getting crumpled under the lid. A plastic door folds out to reveal a manual feed slot that’s ideal for envelopes, which printed without creasing. The door doubles as a cover for the input tray, but it’s not airtight so it won’t keep dust off the paper.

The LBP3100’s performance lived up to the quoted speed, producing 25 copies of our A4 letter in one minute and 33 seconds, which is equivalent to 16.1ppm. Graphics-heavy documents took a couple of seconds longer to start printing, but once they got going the pages appeared just as quickly. Perhaps the best thing about this printer is its fast start-up times. It produced a print just 16 seconds from the moment we turned it on. On standby it consumes only 1W, and takes nine seconds to power up and print a text document.

Print quality builds on the high standards set by Canon’s previous budget laser printer, the LBP2900B. Black text was dark, sharp and smooth, and a little bolder than from the LBP2900. We found that very small fonts such as 5pt weren’t quite as clear, but at 8pt, legibility was marginally better. At 10pt and above the two printers’ text output was indistinguishable.

Greyscales were extremely smooth for a mono laser printer. Mid-tones were rich and detailed, and it produced smoother block-colour greys than the LBP2900. The only problem we spotted was in our business graphics test, where yellow text on a blue background appeared as black on dark grey. However, switching from the Standard to Web Pages quality setting fixed the problem. This is a little surprising, as the Standard setting is meant to be “best suited for originals containing text, photo images and graphics”, but it’s a viable workaround nonetheless.

It’s disappointing that running costs are as high as some inkjet printers, but if you need crisp text prints at a rapid rate, then the LBP3100 is an excellent choice.

Basic Specifications

Rating ****
Maximum native print resolution 600x600dpi
Maximum enhanced print resolution 2,400x600dpi

Quoted Speeds

Quoted speed, mono A4 16ppm
Quoted warm-up time 0s
Quoted time to first page, mono 9s

Tested Speeds

Mono page from sleep time 1.0 9s
Letter, time to first page 1.0 9s
25-page mono document – total time 00:01:33
Time for 24 pages mixed greyscale 1.0 1m 33s
Time for two greyscale 10x8in photos 1.1 15s
Time for six greyscale 6x4in photos 1.0 20s

Physical and Environmental

Standard printer interfaces USB Hi-Speed
Optional printer interfaces 10/100 Ethernet with Axis 1650 Print Server
Size 197x372x250mm
Weight 5.9kg
Noise (in normal use) 50dB(A)
Duty cycle 5,000
Power consumption standby 0W
Power consumption idle 1W
Power consumption active 785W

Paper Handling

Maximum paper size A4/legal, custom length up to 356mm
Maximum paper weight 163gsm
Standard paper inputs 2
Standard paper input capacity 151
Maximum paper inputs 2
Maximum paper input capacity 151
Output tray capacity 100 sheets
Duplex (code, cost if option) No


Printer technology mono laser
Language(s) host-based
Supported operating systems Windows 2000/XP/Vista, Mac OS X 10.3.9 to 10.5.x, Linux
Standard printer memory 2MB
Maximum printer memory 2MB
Other laser features and options none

Buying Information

Price £84
Price per mono A4 page 2.36p
Price of 2nd paper cassette N/A
Capacity of supplied black toner 1,500 pages
Capacity of supplied drum(s) Replaced with toner
Estimated mono TCO – three years light £155
Estimated mono TCO – three years medium £544
Estimated mono TCO – three years heavy £2634
Warranty one year RTB

Tested Print Speeds

Time for two greyscale 10x8in photos 1.1 15s
Time for six greyscale 6x4in photos 1.0 20s