A space-saving, sensibly priced A3 colour LED printer, combining good print quality with strong performance
If you’re short on office space then Oki’s C843dn could be the perfect printer for you. It’s probably the smallest A3 unit on the market – and one of the cheapest too, so it should fit comfortably into your budget.
Though compact, the C843dn is surprisingly heavy: it weighs in at 40kg, so it’ll need to sit on a very sturdy desk. Paper choices start with a single 300-sheet A3 lower tray and 100-sheet A3 MPT (multi-purpose tray), to which you can add three extra 530-sheet trays and a wheeled base. The output tray at the top of the printer holds up to 250 pages; opening the rear output provides a straight path through the printer, allowing you to use heavy 256gsm paper and produce banners up to 1.3m long.
The C843dn’s 1,200dpi print engine showed its strength in our output quality tests, delivering pin-sharp text down to the smallest of font sizes and mono photos with good detail, even in darker areas.
Colour output is equally good. The unsightly cross-hatching that has somtimes afflicted Oki’s lower-end LED printers was, thankfully, not evident at all. Photographs came out with bags of crisp detail, while rich colour saturation gave our A3 posters a real punch. For even more “pop”, the driver’s Photo Enhance feature sharpens focus and increases contrast: our only caveat is that this can lead to detail in darker areas being lost.
The Oki C843dn is advertised as printing at 35ppm for A4 and 20ppm for A3, in both mono and colour. We found these figures were bang on the money – although to print A4 at full speed you must place the paper lengthways across the tray. With the short side towards the paper path we saw A4 print speeds drop to 18ppm. Make sure you set the dial on the paper tray to the right size, as a mismatch will cause the printer to drop back to the MPT.
The integral duplexer doesn’t slow things down too much either: cleverly, it saves time by reversing the paper inside the printer instead of snatching it back at the last second. This enabled it to produce doublesided A4 prints at 18ppm.
While LED printing technology is simpler than a traditional laser design, the C843dn has a lot of consumables to replace, with image drums and toner cartridges for each colour, plus a fuser unit and transfer belt. Inevitably, this has an impact on running costs: a standard mono A4 page works out to 1.3p, while a colour one costs 7.4p.
Google Cloud Print can be set up using the C843dn’s small LCD display,
“While LED printing technology is simpler than a traditional laser design, the C843dn has a lot of consumables to replace”
panel, but no other cloud features are supported – not even Apple AirPrint. If you want to print from an iPad or iPhone then in theory you should be able to use Oki’s iOS Mobile Print app, but you might need to engage in some tinkering to get it to work: we found the app could see our printer, but refused to connect to it.
The Windows driver offers good levels of control over the printing process, with options for duplexing, creating booklets and posters, and PIN-securing jobs for walk-up print tasks. Further printing permissions can be enforced by creating users from the web interface and assigning roles to determine whether they can use colour.
A 16GB SDHC card slot lets you increases security further, enabling encryption and secure erasure of confidential print jobs. If you want wireless, there’s a connector for a small 802.11n card (costing an extra £34) at the side of the printer.
Oki’s C843dn is a practical way for small businesses to bring colour A3 printing in-house. Running costs are a little on the high side, expecially in colour, so it’s not suited to huge print volumes, but it has a good turn of speed and makes no compromises on print quality.
BELOW Oki provides plenty of admin tools while the driver offers fine controls for poster printing
ABOVE The C843dn packs great A3 print quality into a modestly sized frame