Kyocera Mita – TASKalfa 250ci review

network multi-function colour printer, scanner and copier
Photo of Kyocera Mita – TASKalfa 250ci
£8,250 + VAT

Kyocera has long led the field when it comes to printer cost of ownership, thanks mainly to the company’s long-life ceramic drum technology. Technology which is again at the heart of its new TASKalfa family of multi-function printer/copiers, together with a smart new livery plus extensive speed and functionality enhancements.

We looked at the smallest of the first four TASKalfas to be introduced, the 250ci, based on a 25ppm A3 colour laser engine. The same basic engine is used on the others in the range, rated at higher speeds and topped off by the 50ppm 500ci at £13,500 + VAT.

Designed to be used as shared printer, scanner and copier, a duplexer is standard on all models and you can choose one of two scanners. Both sit on top of the printer and can scan double-sided documents, the more expensive DP-760 (£1,450 + VAT) doing this in one pass while the cheaper DP-750 (£845 + VAT) needs two.

You get 2MB of memory as standard and an 80GB hard disk (160GB on more expensive models) while a 10/100Mbps Ethernet interface looks after the connectivity side of things. An integrated multiprotocol print server is also built in, to enable the TASKalfa to be shared by Windows, Apple Mac and Linux users.

In terms of paper handling there’s the usual 100-sheet multipurpose tray plus two built-in 500-sheet paper drawers. Two more drawers can be added if you want (£1,025 + VAT) or you can fit a massive extra 3,000-sheet bin (£1,395 + VAT). A variety of finishing add-ons are similarly available, starting at around £1,500 + VAT for a basic sorter and rising to £4,873 + VAT if you want to fold, hole punch and/or staple documents to create booklets.

The drum is rated for around 300,000 pages, so the only consumable required on a day to day basis is toner. Cartridges are easy to change and a new toner formulation developed just for TASKalfa enables documents to be printed at a much lower temperature, reducing the power required by as much as 15 percent. Colour cartridges cost £80 + VAT and should last for 12,000 pages each, with black cartridges able to print up to 20,000 for just £66 + VAT.

It’s all very impressive, although it can be a little daunting when you first walk up to a fully loaded TASKalfa. Fortunately it doesn’t take long to get to grips with how it all works, thanks mainly to a built-in 8.5-inch colour touch-screen, plus a system of easy-to-follow menus which can be tailored to suit different users and tasks.

Which is all to the good, as there’s a huge amount of functionality on offer. As well as straightforward copying and printing, for example, you can resize and rotate copies, create booklets and sort completed jobs. You can also plug in a USB stick and print any PDFs or other documents it contains. Scanned documents can similarly be saved to USB storage, directed to a remote network share or dispatched by fax or email with a fax modem also included in the basic spec. There’s even a built-in Web browser, although you can’t print from the Web as yet.

With a native resolution of just 600dpi you probably wouldn’t want to use TASKalfa for professional graphics work, but it’s more than adequate for most office needs. Text reproduction is excellent on both prints and copies, and when copying colour it’s hard to tell the copies from the original. It’s also very quick, with a first page out time of just over 6 seconds on the 250i.

Lastly, don’t necessarily be put off by the relatively high purchase price compared to smaller desktop MFPs. Running costs are appreciably lower compared to both these and comparable copier/printers from other leading vendors. Plus resellers can offer a variety of pay-per-page rental agreements with all the maintenance and support you need bundled in, to keep you firmly in the driving seat as far as printing/copying costs are concerned.

Company: Kyocera Mita

Contact: 0845 710 3104


Verdict
A quick, good looking and very functional range of network multifunction printers, the TASKalfa family leads on low cost of ownership and ease of use. A colour touchscreen gives easy access to a wide range of printing, scanning and copying features, and with lots of paper handling/finishing options it's a good choice for the small business looking to drive down print costs.