Oki Printing Solutions MC560 colour laser MFP

The Oki Printing Solutions MC560 colour LED multifunction printer (similar to a colour laser MFP) has inexpensive toner and generates great-looking text pages. Even so, this huge model has too high a sticker price (US$999 as of April 6, 2009) and needs too much special attention to be worth your while.

The installation process was less friendly than most. The printed setup poster and setup guide cover the hardware stage adequately, but when you get to the software stage, the instructions suddenly become sketchy. Oki has no on-screen routine of its own, so you have to rely on Windows’ hardware installation wizard. We survived that ordeal only to get stuck at the step of installing the Twain driver; the instructions didn’t match what we were experiencing. When we queried Oki, the vendor said that it expects most users to download the drivers from its Web site instead of using the ones provided on the included CD. The documentation doesn’t mention that expectation.

Once installed, the MC560 performed satisfactorily in our speed tests, with above-average scores on all measures except the scanning test; however, none of the results came close to Oki’s claimed 32 pages per minute for black text output and 20 ppm for colour graphics. The machine printed finely drawn text and line art, but color images looked dark and oversaturated. Scans tended toward the opposite extreme, looking washed-out and showing visible moiré patterns in some instances.

The Oki MC560 has some interesting though questionable design elements. The plastic, 50-sheet multipurpose tray feels flimsy. After placing media in the tray, you have to press the oversize blue button next to it to lift the media up to the input slot–an odd additional step. As is typical in MFPs, the flatbed scanner and the automatic document feeder loom above the printer chassis. To get to the toner cartridges inside the printer, you must raise the scanner/ADF assembly and then raise the printer’s top lid. If you raise only the printer’s lid, it hits the scanner/ADF unit. The toner cartridges are not keyed; and when we intentionally switched two colours, the MC560 didn’t detect the problem–it just printed bizarre-coloured output. Oki acknowledged the design and expressed concern that our experiment might damage the printer–but if that’s a risk, why didn’t Oki take steps to prevent it?

The MC560’s best attribute is its toner cost, though we reviewed this unit before official pricing was set. The unit ships with starter-size (2000-page) black and colour toner cartridges. An 8000-page replacement black cartridge costs about $117 (1.5 cents per page). Each 6000-page colour cartridge costs about $177 (2.9 cents per colour per page), yielding a total price of 10.8 cents per four-colour page. The separate drums for each colour last 20,000 pages each and cost $74 to $79 (adding a fraction of a cent to each colour’s per-page cost).

The Oki Printing Solutions MC560 has some nice attributes, especially its low-cost toner. But it has too many problematic aspects for us to recommend it.

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