Finding the Color “Sweet Spot” BLI Lab Testing Can Help

<p><i>By <a href="">Marlene Orr</a>, Senior Printer Analyst, November 23, 2010&#160; </i></p> <p>Color MFPs are&#160; gaining more acceptance in general office environments, thanks in part to a wider range of choices, better color (i.e., cost) controls and lower cost of ownership. But, with more choice, comes more confusion: finding the ideal product can get complicated by the vast array of available features, indecipherable specs and, of course, the age-old A3 versus A4 (or “copier-centric versus printer-centric,” if you prefer) debate. While no one product is right for everyone, color MFPs in the 40- to 50-ppm range have a lot to offer. In this ongoing series of articles, BLI can help sort through the clutter.</p> <p>40- to 50-PPM Color MFPs: What’s the Difference?</p> <p>Ranging in speed from 40- to 50-ppm, the <a href=";spec=5... MX-C402SC</b></a>, <a href=";spec=5... X792de</b></a> and <a href=";spec=5... WorkCentre 7545</b></a>, three MFPs undergoing testing in BLI’s lab, offer the same core functionality (print, copy and scan) and on the surface seem very much the same with only a few differences. All three models offer color controls/calibration, a touch-screen interface and a choice of finishing options. The most obvious differences are in output size (the Sharp and Lexmark models support only up to legal-size output, while the Xerox device supports up to ledger-size output, which, of course, carries a price), and rated speed. The Xerox model is also the only one of the group to offer an optional saddle-stitch booklet maker.</p> <!--break--> <p>Productivity Advantages: Fact versus Fiction</p> <p>While specs in general can be a good starting point for finding the right MFP, they don’t normally take into account the many variables that can affect real-world performance.&#160; Let’s start with engine speed. For long print and copy runs, rated engine speed is a great indicator of performance, but in the real world, most typical jobs are three to five pages, so the MFP never gets a chance to get up to speed. Other key factors that affect performance include the number of pages or sets produced, document/application type, whether documents are single-or double-sided, complexity and coverage of the pages and network traffic. BLI’s extensive industry knowledge and hands-on lab testing can help you sort it all out.</p> <p>BLI is currently putting all three devices through their paces in a broad range of tests to help customers understand the strengths and weaknesses of each. While test reports for all three products will be available in the coming months, here is a sneak preview of some of our data that can help you sort out the differences between these three MFPs to help you decide which one is the best fit for your busy workgroup. </p> <p>Looking at some of the raw data obtained from BLI’s productivity testing, a few key differences are </p> <p>revealed. In spite of a rated speed that falls in the middle of the group, the Xerox model offers the fastest speed when printing BLI’s job stream test suite in color (a mix of different file types sent to the device simultaneously to simulate network traffic in a workgroup environment). It also offers the fastest first-copy time from the document feeder and the fastest scanning speed for single-sided originals in color and black. Lexmark’s model offers the fastest speed when printing BLI’s job stream test suite in black mode and when printing a single page for four out of five file types tested. The Sharp model is the fastest when printing a single-page Word document and its single-pass duplexing document feeder contributed to its having the fastest scanning speeds for double-sided documents in both color and black. Keep in mind, however, this is only a small subset of the tests we perform in our lab. So, when deciding on a color MFP, the question isn’t really which MFP is the fastest or most productive, but which best handles the types of jobs a workgroup commonly does and ultimately lets workers be more productive. Full productivity results are available on bliQ and stay tuned for the comprehensive Lab Test Reports to get the full story on these key players.</p> <p>To see full article with tables and comparisons, go to <a href="">Buyer’s Laboratory</a>.</p>