TallyGenicom 8108N review

£199
Price when reviewed

Prices for colour lasers have dropped so low that they’re now an affordable choice for SoHos as well as small businesses. The latest 8108N from TallyGenicom manages to come in just under the £200 barrier. But what makes this printer stand out is that it includes an integral network print server, making it look even better value.

The 8108N bears more than a passing resemblance to Lexmark’s C500n (see issue 146, p171), and a quick comparison shows it is indeed the same printer. We criticised the C500n for its high printing costs and, unfortunately, the 8018N comes in for the same stick. You have a choice of standard and high-capacity toner cartridges, and we heartily recommend avoiding the former. All standard cartridges cost £58, with black lasting for 2,500 pages and the colour versions giving up after 1,500 pages. Use these and a mono page will set you back an uncomfortable 2.3p per page, while a colour page will sting you to the tune of 13.9p. It’s far better to go for the high-capacity cartridges, which return a mono page for 1.3p and a colour page for a marginally more acceptable 9.1p. The printer also has an OPC drum, but this is designed to last 120,000 pages, making it cheaper to replace the entire printer when this packs up.

The 8018N delivers a fair turn of speed, with TallyGenicom quoting mono print speeds of 31ppm and 8ppm for colour. Our tests confirmed this, with the 8018N completing a basic 30-page Word document in 58 seconds and a 24-page full-colour DTP document in less than three minutes. The reason for the slower colour speeds is that the printer must make separate passes for each colour, and the resulting excessive noise levels make the 8108N a poor choice if you value your peace.

The driver panel offers several options for changing the resolution, with selections for documents, photographs and graphics. In the speed stakes, these seemed to have little impact, with all three settings returning the same times for our test prints. But we found they had a definite effect on output quality.

Photographs printed using the appropriate driver setting produce reasonably good levels of detail, but they suffer from a bluish tinge, making them look cold and lifeless. Move to the Graphics setting and the picture perks up, while the standard Document option produces even more vibrancy. To understand what was happening, we printed our colour chart test using all three driver options. Sure enough, on the Document setting, colour blocks comprising 100% cyan, yellow and magenta virtually jumped out of the page. On the Graphics setting, cyan and yellow started to fade, while magenta had an ugly grey tinge to it, and this simply got worse with the Photograph setting. We also tried using the standard and high-quality driver settings, but these made no significant difference. Comparing these with test prints from the C500n showed Lexmark delivering noticeably better results.

At only £199, the 8018N is offering a very tempting proposition, especially since network connectivity comes as standard. However, print quality is average at best and, thanks to its cheaper high-capacity toner cartridges, Lexmark’s C500n delivers lower colour printing costs.

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