OKI Data MC561 Colour MFP

The editorial department at IT World Canada has been using the OKI Data MC561 colour multifunction printer since March, and it would earn a positive review just for saving us from having to walk across the office to retrieve print jobs from an ageing, frequently-jamming laser printer. Still, the MC561 is a solid printer in its own right, but isn’t without its issues.

The manufacturing and design quality is good but material quality could have been higher. It felt a little plasticy and flimsy, making it feel a little cheap despite the US$749 price tag.

I turned the set-up over to our IT staff as we wanted the printer networked. They reported setting up the print capability on the network was easy, but we were unable to configure the scan to e-mail or network computer capabilities. The on-printer menus were cumbersome to navigate for configuration, and we felt the remote interface and profile management tools could have been a lot better designed.

We haven’t made use of all the functions, and it seems a little challenging to do so in a networked workgroup environment. We’ve been doing a lot of printing, obviously, and while the warm-up from idle can take a little while it’s just more noticeable because we don’t have to walk that far to retrieve a print job. Once it’s warmed-up, the print speed has been excellent as has been the quality, in both black and white and colour. The specs say 27 ppm in colour and 31 ppm in bkack & white, and that sounds about right.

We also found the copier function useful, and liked that we could either put a job directly on the glass or use the document feeder for multi-page jobs. I also liked that there were buttons to either copy in black and white, or in colour based on our needs.

You can’t have an MFP without fax capability but, while this technology still has its niche use cases, I haven’t found it relevant in over a decade so we didn’t connect it. We’ll assume it works fine though.

The scanning capability proved problematic. Part of the problem is there doesn’t seem to be any desktop management software; it’s all done from the machine. I guess that makes sense with a workgroup printer, but we found it a challenge navigating the menus with the arrow keys on the printer control panel. The display is also text-only, so no preview capability. As mentioned, we couldn’t configure the scan to network PC or e-mail features but after some fiddling we were able to scan to a USB stick for further editing back on our PC. Not ideal, but it worked.

The MC561 is a reasonable size for a small workgroup printer with 250 sheet paper tray we didn’t have to fill super-often. The control panel features a 3.5″ backlit, tilting LCD display, along with one-touch keys for each function, plus an alphanumeric keypad and QWERTY keyboard.

Duplexing is supported, and as mentioned you can scan to, as well as print from, a USB stick. We didn’t give it a try, but you can apparently also print banners up to 52” in length.

It’s fairly easy to get into the insides of the printer by lifting the top section, and then another panel on the top. There are four toner cartridges (three colours and black) than snap easily out of the tray. The tray itself also snaps out easily. The idea is you can have a spare tray of consumables unpackaged and ready to go, and just swap it in when needed. Really, though, you have to ask how often do you swap out all four toner cartridges at once? It’s a neat idea, but the utility is questionable.

All in all, we like the MC561 as a printer for our workgroup of just under 10 people, but we’re not sure it would hold up for many more users than that. It’s also fine as a copier, but the network access tools need work to make scanning more useable. For US$749, we expected just a little more.

Follow Jeff Jedras on Twitter: @JeffJedrasCDN.

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Jeff Jedras
Jeff Jedras
A veteran technology and business journalist, Jeff Jedras began his career in technology journalism in the late 1990s, covering the booming (and later busting) Ottawa technology sector for Silicon Valley North and the Ottawa Business Journal, as well as everything from municipal politics to real estate. He later covered the technology scene in Vancouver before joining IT World Canada in Toronto in 2005, covering enterprise IT for ComputerWorld Canada. He would go on to cover the channel as an assistant editor with CDN. His writing has appeared in the Vancouver Sun, the Ottawa Citizen and a wide range of industry trade publications.

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