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Top 10 color laser multifunction printers

These efficient workhorses combine color laser printing, scanning, copying, and, frequently, faxing

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Konica Minolta Magicolor 4695MF
Magicolor 4695MF Review, by Susan Silvius, PC World April 15, 2009

Rating:  

rating_icon_3_stars.gif

Maximum paper size, height: 14.0 inches; Maximum paper size, width: 8.5 inches

Pros:
Competent print quality
Built for heavy use; economical toner

Cons:
Expensive; some awkward design elements
Scanner struggles with some image types

Bottom Line: This tanklike unit can take a beating, but it's rough around the edges, especially when scanning.

REVIEW:
The Konica Minolta Magicolor 4695MF is a color laser multifunction printer built for high-volume use. It's expandable, but very expensive ($1299 as of April 6, 2009)--and it falters on scan quality.

Setting up the Magicolor 4695MF is harder than it should be. The printed guide covers hardware installation and mixes wordless, sometimes puzzling illustrations with a few written instructions in 19 languages. (The rest of the documentation--including an on-screen user guide and a printed guide to basic operations--is thorough and well executed.) Installing via ethernet is a hassle--you have to load each component's driver manually. With USB, on the other hand, the drivers install themselves, though with scant explanation along the way.

The hulking unit occupies roughly 2 cubic feet of space and weighs over 120 pounds. The 250-sheet output tray sticks out to one side, which seems awkward and increases the unit's footprint--as does unfolding the 100-sheet multipurpose tray. The nondetachable main paper tray, which slides out from the base of the MFP, holds 250 sheets of letter-size paper (but not legal); an optional 500-sheet paper tray ($299) accepts both sizes.

Options abound: You can upgrade the RAM to a maximum of 1GB (for $349) or add a 40GB hard disk (also for $349). Konica Minolta also offers a $149 CompactFlash card adapter for holding 256MB to 4GB cards, but you can't have the card adapter and the optional hard drive installed simultaneously. A USB port next to the output tray lets you print from a digital camera or key drive, but the latter can't operate without the hard drive or CompactFlash adapter.

As the engine's unusually high monthly duty cycle (up to 120,000 pages) indicates, this MFP is a workhorse. Nevertheless, in our tests, its performance was about average. Its box specs claim a print speed of 25 pages per minute for both black text and color graphics output, but we timed the Magicolor 4695MF at 20.9 ppm and 3.4 ppm, respectively. Per Konica Minolta, we used the PostScript driver; the Printer Control Language (PCL) driver might yield speedier results.

Output quality was very good except in the case of scanning. Black text was crisp but lacked delicacy. Color prints looked realistic--slightly pinkish on fleshtones, slightly yellowish otherwise. Copies looked fine. Scans occurred speedily, but colors (especially fleshtones) in the images looked strangely murky. Konica Minolta confirmed that the scanning software has some issues, but it was unable to resolve them before this review went live. The vendor plans to update us on its progress as soon as possible.

Konica Minolta is generous with toner: Even the starter sizes will last awhile (3000 pages each), and replacements are cheap. Standard-capacity, 4000-page cartridges cost $90 for black (2.2 cents per page) and $130 for each color (3.2 cents per color, per page). The high-yield, 8000-page supplies cost $109 for black (1.4 cents per page) and $169 for each color (2.7 cents per color per page). A four-color page would thus cost 12 cents using standard-size toner cartridges or a rock-bottom 8.4 cents using high-yield sizes.

Think big when it comes to the Konica Minolta Magicolor 4695MF--in price, size, expandability, and toner savings. If you have the money, the need, and the space, it's worth a look.

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