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Oki C830 review

Our Rating :
Price when reviewed : £1364
(£1186 ex VAT)

Ultimately, the Oki C830 proved to be a fair colour LED printer, but with some points that concerned us.

The C830 is the latest in Oki’s range of LED printers. It’s an A3 ‘laser class’ desktop colour printer, with an impressively small footprint and, according to Oki, a low ‘total cost of ownership’.

Unlike traditional laser printers, the C830 uses LEDs internally, though this will make no practical different to the end user. For colour reproduction, the Oki did an admirable job. Output was appropriately subtle or saturated, and it matched the onscreen display well.

In our tests, we noted that the Oki had a slight tendency to darken things a little, but it wasn’t a serious problem. There were also some odd colour drop-outs in certain parts of saturated reds, though the images in question were already in CMYK format, so gamut problems weren’t a factor.

Other than this, the print quality was very good. As always, colour laser (or LED) printers are not replacements for photo-quality inkjets, but for general colour output that looks like commercial off-set litho print, these devices shine.

The Oki C830 was a bit of a letdown when it came to speed, though. While it’s billed as a 30ppm colour printer (32ppm for mono output), it was noticeably slower than this in our tests – it took 46 seconds to print 10 A4 copies of a text document. In fact, the first page took 21 seconds, so from that point on the C830 averaged a little under three seconds per page. This means it can reach about 20ppm when it gets into its stride. And even though this is less than the stated speed, it’s still not bad.

However, it took rather longer when faced with rich DTP documents. An A3 advert layout, with a 12MB CMYK Photoshop document, a simple vector EPS and some text took just under five minutes to print, while an eight-page DL-format brochure (48MB of bitmap images in total) took a temper-shortening 18 minutes to finish. So if you are looking for a high-speed solution for serious graphics, you should look elsewhere, as this isn’t it.

All these things point to what was fairly clear in the first place: the Oki C830 is much more of a business printer than something suitable for busy designers. It’s fine for printing Word or Excel documents, but not for desktop proofs of complex DTP layouts.

Having established this, it’s time to look at one of Oki’s other claims: low total cost of ownership. First of all there’s the up-front cost to consider. Yes, you’ll have to shell out a large amount of cash to buy the C830, but the price is quite competitive when compared to other A3 colour LED printers.

Power consumption was a mixed bag. It was very low (under 17W) when on standby, but like all printers of this type, it uses a lot of power when it’s being used: 200W on idle and about 1.3KW when active.

Print costs are roughly a few pence per page, which is similar to competing products. The Job Accounting and Color Access Policy Manager features will help keep track of what’s being printed, so you can implement a printing policy. Again, this is most suited to business office environments.

The standard paper tray is not particularly capacious. It can hold up to 300 sheets of 80gsm stock, less if you use a slightly heavier, higher-quality paper. This won’t be a problem for everyone, but be ready to buy an extra tray.

The process of changing the toner isn’t quite as well thought out as it could be. Like other Oki designs we’ve seen, there is a risk of spilling small amounts of toner when replacing consumables; we ended up with a dusting of cyan, magenta and yellow on our hands and workbench when we set it up. This is something that can be avoided, but it did catch us out. The quality of the Oki C830 was very good, though it did have a slight tendency to darken images a little. The speed issues earned it the biggest black mark, and it would become unpopular very quickly if you were up against a deadline.