The OKI C831dn ($1,929 list) is a rarity, a sub-$2,000 color laser-class printer that can print up to tabloid size. Like the other two such printers we’ve reviewed—the OKI C831n and the Editors’ Choice Xerox Phaser 7100/N—it’s a worthy addition to this niche. If you need duplex (two-sided) printing, it could well be your preferred printer of the bunch.
As an LED-based printer, the C831dn uses light-emitting diodes (LEDs) in place of lasers as a light source, though LED printers are still considered laser class. The printer, off-white with gray trim, measures 14.2 by 17.6 by 21.7 inches (HWD) and weighs 82 pounds, large enough for it to need a table of its own. Its front panel includes a monochrome LED screen, a four-way controller, and an alphanumeric keypad.
The C831dn’s standard paper capacity is 400 sheets, split between a 300-sheet main tray and a 100-sheet multipurpose feeder. It supports two optional 530-sheet trays ($379 list), for a maximum paper capacity of 1,560 sheets. It has a duty cycle of up to 75,000 pages per month. The C831dn includes an automatic duplexer for printing on both sides of a sheet of paper; the C831n lacks one but is otherwise the same printer.
The printer offers USB, parallel, and Ethernet connectivity; I tested it on an Ethernet network with its drivers loaded on a PC running Windows Vista.
I timed the OKI C831dn on the latest version of our business applications suite (using QualityLogic’s hardware and software for timing), at an effective 7.5 pages per minute (ppm). That’s in line with its rated print speed of up to 35 ppm for both monochrome and color printing, which is about what we’d see if it were printing solely text pages. (Our test suite consists of text pages, graphics pages, and pages of mixed content.) It effectively matches the 7.7 ppm turned in by the OKI C831n (with the same rated speed) and the 7.9 ppm at which I timed the Xerox 7100/N, rated at 30 ppm for both monochrome and color printing. (At these speeds, a difference of a few tenths of a page per minute is not statistically significant.)
By default, the C831dn is set for simplex (one-sided) printing, but as the addition of an auto-duplexer is what distinguishes it from the C831n, I also timed it in duplex (two-sided) mode, where it lagged a bit over its simplex speed, printing our test suite at a rate of 5.3 ppm.
Like other recent OKI printers I’ve tested, the C831dn is unusually quick in going to Power Saver and Sleep modes, and it did so during the built-in delay between each of our tests. I did some ad-hoc testing of it printing in simplex while keeping the printer “fully awake”. It was slightly faster (8.7 ppm), but didn’t show the dramatic speed difference I saw in larger multifunction printers (MFPs) like the OKI MC780. If you want that (relatively modest) speed boost, at the expense of power savings, you can lengthen the time delay for it to go into Power Saver and Sleep modes through the Admin menu.
Text quality was slightly above average for a laser-class printer, suitable for any internal business use, and most any other use except those requiring very small fonts.
Graphics quality was par for a color laser, suitable for general business use including PowerPoint handouts, though I might hesitate to hand them to clients I was trying to impress. Some backgrounds looked pale and/or blotchy, and a couple of prints showed mild banding (a regular pattern of faint striations. Many illustrations showed dithering in the form of graininess. The printer had trouble with some very thin colored lines.
Photo quality was a bit below par for a color laser. A monochrome print showed some tinting; it and several other prints had traces of banding. Prints showed dithering in the form of dot patterns. The C831dn can print out recognizable photos from files or Web pages, but I wouldn’t use it for much more than that.
Like the OKI C831n, the OKI C831dn offers color printing at up to tabloid size, but adds automatic duplex (two-sided) printing to the mix. The less expensive Editors’ Choice Xerox Phaser 7100/N lacks a duplexer, though Xerox offers a version of the printer (the 7100/DN) for $1,800 that includes one.
That said, the C831dn is no match for the Xerox 7100/N in output quality, particularly for photos. The Xerox’s high photo and graphics quality make it suitable for printing basic marketing materials, while the C831dn’s output is more suitable for internal business use as well as PowerPoint handouts. If that is all your business requires, and you need duplex printing, the OKI C831dn could well be your tabloid color laser printer of choice.
|Direct Printing from Cameras||No|
|Maximum Standard Paper Size||Tabloid|
|Color or Monochrome||1-pass color|
|Technology (for laser category only)||LED|
|Connection Type||USB, Ethernet|
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