Manufacturers are working harder than ever to make colour lasers a viable option. We took a look at two well-priced models (Minolta’s QMS Magicolor 2300 was initially reviewed in Australian PC World December 2002, Tech.Files) that might fit your budget as well as your needs.
As an office ornament, the Magicolor is fairly unengaging and the rather weak construction of the plastic paperfeeds make it feel less than robust. The built-in control panel is a nice touch, though, letting you check on the printer’s health, monitor toner levels and alter the network configuration without a PC. With just 200-page input and output trays on the basic model, the optional 500-page tray will be a must for anyone printing large volumes. Manual duplex facilities are included as standard, but for instant double-sided printing you might want the optional automatic duplexer.
The Magicolor has 32MB of memory, upgradable to a massive 288MB for demanding workloads. Resolution support is strong, with a sizeable 2400x600dpi available for maximum detail, and the Magicolor shows an impressive turn of speed across all resolutions.
At a basic resolution of 600x600dpi, the printer averages 12.5 and 2.6ppm in mono and colour, respectively, getting fairly close to the manufacturer’s quoted rates of 16ppm and 4ppm, and comfortably outpacing HP’s LaserJet 2500 range. Output quality is extremely high, with the focused text and intense but colourful pictures impressing on all levels.
HP’s efforts to get away from the breezeblock printer design that habitually passes for style in the laser market has resulted in a finely curved multicoloured printer that could only have come from the HP stable. Installation was simple thanks to HP’s truly comprehensive instructions and tutorials, but it still took around 30 minutes.
The 2500 range has three models: 2500L, 2500 and 2500n. In terms of paper handling facilities, the $2970 125-page tray 2500L is almost certainly a model to avoid. The 250-page trays of the $3548 2500 and $4400 2500n (complete with internal print server) make these better options. All three models are hampered by a 125-page output bin, however.
All 2500 models come with 64MB of memory, upgradable to 256MB. Basic resolution support of 600x600dpi is the only real option. The 2500 series is enhanced by HP’s ImageRet 2400 colour layering technology, however, and in practice the results were extremely similar to the 2400dpi modes of other printers.
In text mode, the 2500 series is very good, producing clean and precise text output. But turn to graphics and the prints are just a little too light and lack the fine detail offered by the Magicolor. Print times are inferior, too, with the HP averaging just 11.5 and 2.1ppm on mono and colour, as opposed to the Magicolor’s 12.5 and 2.6ppm. Nonetheless, the HP remains a swift performer.
In brief: Minolta-QMS Magicolor 2300, HP Color LaserJet 2500L
Neither of these printers would be out of place in a self-respecting home or small office. The Magicolor, in particular, generates fantastic print quality at high speeds. With an enticing $1995 price tag this would make an excellent choice, although the limited paper handling on the basic model could exclude it from high volume printing.
The HP is more problematic. Even in its cheapest incarnation, it fails to match the price, speed or print quality of the Magicolor. Ideally, you would want to upgrade to at least the straight 2500 model (at a less-pleasing $3548). For these reasons, the HP is a clear runner-up behind the superb Magicolor.
Minolta-QMS Magicolor 2300
Phone: (02) 9884 9966
HP Color LaserJet 2500L
Phone: 13 2347