Sagem MF 5401 review

Price when reviewed

More commonly associated with mobile phones, Sagem has been diversifying into several new territories. It made a frontal assault on the hotly contested business laser printer market this year. The range consists of mono and colour lasers, and the latest MF 5401 delivers a basic multifunction solution to small businesses.

Sagem MF 5401 review

The MF 5401 offers a mixed bag of features, because it’s built around a 600dpi, 16ppm mono laser engine, but has a colour scanner stacked on top. The scanner can function as a straightforward mono copier, but is obviously more limited for colour operations. For the latter, you can scan a colour image and import it directly to the local host PC, or pop a USB storage device in the port at the front and send it directly to this. The printer doesn’t accept a network print server card, but Sagem offers a wireless network dongle that uses the front USB port.

A handy security feature is the card reader located underneath the front panel of the printer. During the warm-up phase, you must insert the supplied initialisation card; otherwise, the printer can’t be used, and once accepted the card can then be removed. The only consumable is the toner cartridge, which is loaded from the front of the printer. Printing costs depend on which cartridge you choose, but neither delivers particularly good value. Opt for the 2,200-page cartridge at £47.90 and an A4 page will cost nearly 2.2p, while the 4,000-page cartridge delivers a page for 1.7p – no prizes for guessing which cartridge the printer comes supplied with.

Sagem includes a good software bundle, but don’t try installing it on a Windows Server 2003 system, because it will fail. PaperPort controls the scanner from the host PC, allowing you to import documents and pictures, and store them locally. The Companion tools provide access to the printer’s settings along with basic toner and control panel monitors, and integrates directly with PaperPort for scanning operations. USB options are well catered for, as inserting a key into the front port causes the printer to scan it, looking for TXT, TIF and JPG files. You can print a list of all files, view the key contents, select files for printing and delete them from the key.

Printing performance depends on the document type. The printer delivered a basic 16-page Word document in a tidy 60 seconds, with the first page emerging after 15 seconds. Our 24-page DTP-style document caused some contemplation, as its collection of large graphics, photos and charts took 3mins 6secs to finish for an average 8ppm.

Speed may be reasonably good, but the same can’t be said of print quality. We did find text across a range of font sizes was clean and sharp, but results for photos and graphics weren’t so good. These suffered from low contrast, which left them washed out with poor levels of detail. An unsightly banding was evident throughout, and we found charts and bar graphs suffered from uneven fills.

The MF 5401 is offering a reasonable multifunction printing package for the price, but overall output quality simply isn’t up to scratch. If you’re staking your business reputation on your report presentation, look elsewhere.

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