Laser-based all-in-ones, or multifunctions as they prefer to be called, have traditionally been more expensive than their inkjet counterparts. That’s really not true of OKI’s MB260, though, which at Internet prices costs under £120 and uses a high-intensity LED strip, rather than a laser engine. Even with its modest asking price, it includes several features normally reserved for more expensive, office machines.
The MB260 has a fairly conventional appearance, in the ‘flatbed scanner stuck on top of a laser printer’ style. The simply designed control panel has a lot of spare room, enough to include a paper-clip tray next to the 2-line by 16-character LCD display, which is accompanied by navigation buttons and a full numeric keypad.
The numeric keypad is a little unusual, given the machine has no fax facilities. Instead the numbers are used for security, so you can restrict access to the whole machine or just its USB socket, located halfway down the front panel. This kind of facility is normally only available on multifunctions intended for workgroups or departments, but can be just as effective at stopping illicit copying or printing in the home or small office.
Installation of the one-piece drum and toner cartridge is straightforward, once you’ve folded down the machine’s front panel. Below this is a 200-sheet paper tray, with a multipurpose slot above. Paper feeds to what is effectively the top surface of the laser printer, a large slot directly beneath the scanner section. There’s a flip-up stop to keep printed pages in place, which is a little awkward to flip.
OKI claims a top speed of 20ppm for the MB260, which is quick for a multifunction costing just over £100. In fact, though, it’s a bit slower than this, because of the length of time the Windows GDI-based print engine takes to rasterise a page. We saw start-up times between 18 and 22 seconds, though once pages did start to print, they came through quickly.
Black text print from the 600dpi print engine is good, with cleanly formed characters and no noticeable toner spatter. Greyscale graphics have a good range of tints, but there’s some obvious banding in areas of solid fill. This was also apparent in the photo images we printed, but for a general-purpose SOHO machine, results are better than average. Photocopies of text and solid graphics are fair, but greyscales show some blotchiness.
Drum and toner cartridges are available in 3,000 and 5,500 page capacities and using the more economical, high-capacity consumable gives a cost per page of 2.25p, which is very reasonable, compared with its rivals.
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