Color MFPs go mainstream
Newest generation of multifunction printers from Ricoh, Sharp, Toshiba, Xerox add office-friendly featuresFollow @infoworld
Ricoh’s gray and powder-blue Aficio MP C4500 takes the top score with its fast performance and extensive feature set.
There is a trade-off for that fast performance, though: somewhat disappointing print and copy quality. I also found that taking advantage of the C4500’s impressive capabilities demands more effort than with the competing systems.
Here’s a basic example of that extra effort: To make a copy, you must choose mono or color on the control panel menus, then push the lone Copy button. Other machines, such as the Sharp MX-4501N, have separate color and mono buttons, so you can make quick copies without using the control panel menus at all.
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Ricoh must have known its control panel might overwhelm users, because a big, physical Simplified Display Mode button sits right beside the control panel. When pushed, it temporarily slims down the menus.
Despite the complexity, the MP C4500’s feature density is impressive. You can pick one color in the original to delete or print as a different color. You can give your documents a background color, including custom colors you mix and save. You can add stamps for page numbers and dates in a wide variety of formats (it even supports the software-manual chapter-dot-page format) as well as canned and customizable text watermarks. And you can designate as many as 20 chapter dividers and set what to print on them.
The MP C4500’s pull-scanning feature lets you take the machine offline while you run back to your desk and launch a scan. For the sake of efficiency and peace in the office, however, it may be better to use push scanning: make the scan at the machine without taking it offline and send the scan to your computer.
But systems administrators take note: Of the four MFPs I tested, the MP C4500 was the only one that stymied my attempts to create new repositories for push scanning (the ones I set up with a Ricoh technician’s help worked fine).
Like all modern printers and MFPs, the MP C4500 has an internal Web page that allows remote administration. From the Web site you can see and manage thumbnails of scanned documents saved on the machine’s internal drive, which Ricoh calls the Document Server. That’s a nice touch.
The MP C4500 sports a mixed mechanical design. I like that its internal output slot is wide enough to reach in easily for a stack of prints or copies. It can’t offset copies (or slightly stagger sets of collated copies), but it can alternate them between portrait and landscape. The paper trays are sturdy and easy to adjust, and after changing the paper size you don’t have to tell the machine the dimensions of the new paper in the tray -- the Xerox machine, in contrast, asks you every time you open a tray.