Canon imageClass LBP6780dn review

The Canon imageClass LBP6780dn can serve nicely as a monochrome laser workhorse in a small to medium-size office.
Photo of Canon imageClass LBP6780dn

Designed to be a workhorse monochrome laser printer for small to medium-size offices and workgroups, the Canon imageClass LBP6780dn is a head-to-head competitor with the similarly priced Editors’ Choice Dell B3460dn. Like the Dell printer, it’s particularly well suited for small offices that need heavy-duty printing. And although it doesn’t quite match the Dell B3460dn for paper capacity, it makes up for that by coming in a little ahead for output quality.

Much like the Dell B3460dn, the LBP6780dn includes a duplexer (for two-sided printing) as standard, and a substantial input capacity, with a 500-sheet drawer in this case, plus a 100-sheet multipurpose tray. That should be more than enough for most small offices, but if you need more, you can add either one or two 500-sheet paper drawers ($299 direct each) for a maximum 1,600 sheets. That’s certainly ample paper handling for reasonably heavy-duty use in a small to mid-size office. However, its less than the Dell printer offers. Standard capacity for the Dell B3460dn is 650 sheets, with a 550-sheet drawer and 100-sheet multipurpose tray. Maximum capacity, with up to three additional 550-sheet drawers, is 2,300 sheets. Neither printer offers output options like a finisher, stacker, or sorter.

This difference in paper handling doesn’t put the LBP6780dn at a serious disadvantage if the standard capacity is all you need. However, it could make a big difference if you need a higher capacity. The Dell printer not only offers a higher maximum, but the extra drawers cost less than the Canon printer’s and are also available in lockable, as well as non-lockable, versions.

Setup and Speed
The LBP6780dn is a touch bigger and heavier than the Dell printer, at 13.6 by 17.9 by 16.7 inches (HWD) and 39.7 pounds. As you would probably expect, it includes both Ethernet and USB connectors. It lacks Wi-Fi support, which isn’t unusual for this category of printer, but is worth mention in this case because the Dell B3460dn offers a Wi-Fi option. For my tests, I installed the printer on a wired network and ran the tests from a Windows Vista system. Setup was standard fare.

Canon ships the LBP6780dn so it installs set for duplex printing by default. As I’ve pointed out in other Canon printer reviews, this is a nice touch for encouraging paper-saving with duplex printing, but it slows down the print speed. Canon rates the printer at just 20.5 pages per minute (ppm) in duplex mode, or less than half of the 42 ppm rating for simplex (one-sided) mode. Both of these ratings should be close to what you’ll see when printing a text document with no graphics or photos. For more complex print jobs, however, the difference in speed between the two modes is far less dramatic.

I timed the printer on our business applications suite (using QualityLogic’s hardware and software for timing) for both duplex and simplex printing. Duplex mode serves as the official timing, however, since that’s the default setting. The speed in duplex mode was an effective 11.3 ppm, which qualifies as reasonably fast, but far from impressive. The much less expensive Editors’ Choice Dell B2360dn, for example, came in at 15.0 ppm.

In simplex mode, however, the LBP6780dn hit 14.8 ppm, which makes it faster than all but a few mono lasers. The Dell B3460dn was faster still, at 15.3 ppm, but at these speeds, 0.5 ppm is not a significant difference.

Output Quality
As I’ve already suggested, output quality is the one area where the LBP6780dn does better than the Dell B3460dn, with solidly par quality output across the board. Text quality is well within the range that includes most mono lasers. It’s easily good enough for almost any business need, including applications that need small fonts. However, it’s a little short of what you might want for desktop publishing applications, particularly if you’re a bit of a perfectionist.

Graphics quality is dead on par for a monochrome laser, making it easily good enough for internal business needs. Depending on how much of a perfectionist you are, once again, you may or may not consider it suitable for PowerPoint handouts and the like. Photo quality is at the low end of par for a mono laser, which makes it good enough for applications like a client or company newsletter with photos.

The Canon imageClass LBP6780dn’s balance of speed, paper handling, and output quality makes it a potentially attractive choice, but not the best for everyone. For offices with particularly heavy-duty print needs, the Dell B3460dn’s lower cost for additional paper drawers, plus its higher maximum capacity, gives it the edge. If your print needs aren’t heavy duty enough to go beyond the standard input capacity, however, the two printers are well matched overall. And if you prefer an emphasis on output quality, the Canon imageClass LBP6780dn will be the better fit, very likely making it your preferred choice.

Specifications
Print Duplexing Automatic
Printer Category Laser
Direct Printing from Cameras No
Maximum Standard Paper Size Legal
Rated Speed at Default Settings (Mono) 20.5 ppm
Type Printer Only
Color or Monochrome Monochrome
Technology (for laser category only) Laser
Connection Type USB, Ethernet

Verdict
The Canon imageClass LBP6780dn monochrome laser printer delivers speed and paper handling suitable for heavy-duty use in a small to medium-size office or workgroup.
Published under license from Ziff Davis, Inc., New York, All rights reserved.
Copyright © 2012 Ziff Davis, Inc