Fast letter-size printers feed the need for speed
Dell, Toshiba monochrome printers match up well; management, add-on extras make the differenceFollow @infoworld
I do like the flash drive reader on the 500P’s control panel: You can pop in a keychain drive and print PDFs, text files, jpgs, and other files in common non-proprietary formats without passing them through a PC.
I have several complaints about installing the 500P without a Toshiba technician to navigate. When the installer displayed a list of printers from which to choose, there was no 500P in the lineup. I settled for the default, called Generic 25A, which promptly tied itself to an LPT1 port.
After I nudged it onto a TCP port, I changed its share name, thinking to make it more client-friendly, but when I went to the client to pull over a driver, the printer didn’t appear on the network. I had to set its name on the server back to Generic 25A before I could use it on a client. Toshiba later said I should have installed the Generic 25C model instead. When I tried that, it generated its TCP port and attached itself correctly, but still didn’t accept my new share name.
In sum, it’s a very dirty install. Your Toshiba dealer’s crew will know the drill, but I’d guess that most of us prefer not to depend so much on the vendor.
The 500P spit out 10 copies of my 10-page text job at a crowd-pleasing 46.6 ppm, and 10 copies of my two-page Excel document at 36.6 ppm. And it keeps up the pace on other document types -- 10 copies of PowerPoint slides at 39.7 ppm and 10 copies of a Photoshop photo at 28.5 ppm. (As with the Dell, single copies print much slower than multiple copies -- generally about two-thirds as fast on text documents and one-quarter as fast on graphics.)
I’d like the 500P’s text to look a little blacker, but it prints text very cleanly. Weighting feels even, with no choppiness visible to the naked eye. Graphics, on the other hand, print too dark. Large gray fields have a lot of streakiness and patchiness or uneven density, and photos show strong banding and noticeable moire patterns. On the plus side, detail comes through reasonably well.
If you use Lexmark printers and management tools you can cover the 500P under your MarkVision umbrella. The printer’s embedded Web server also provides plenty of control, including menu-by-menu control-panel lockout and individual IP port settings.
Toshiba provides a 21,000-page toner cartridge with the printer, and sells a 32,000-page (return) cartridge replacement for $319. It also sells a useful paper-handling add-on that Dell doesn’t carry: a 2,000-sheet feeder, for $889. The standard warranty, which nominally covers the fuser, lasts for a year. That all works out to about 1.1 cents per page, a bit more than the Dell’s 1.02 per page.
Which Fast Letter Machine?
Price is what distinguishes the Dell 5310n and Toshiba 500P most significantly from the oversize printers. Where the three oversize machines ranged from $3,299 to $3,799, the Dell costs only $999 direct, and Toshiba’s estimated street price runs $1,099. True, the oversize printers I tested came somewhat better-equipped, but trays, duplexers, and other extras for the Dell and Toshiba don’t add that much to the price tag.
The Dell and Toshiba printers come out in a statistical dead heat that masks some significant differences. In particular, the Dell is much better behaved during installation and operation, and slots into your OpenManage environment. On the other hand, Toshiba’s machine has a handy numeric keypad plus a nifty flash-drive reader; it also carries a somewhat wider range of optional extras. The best choice for your company will depend on what you’re printing -- and which features you can’t live without.