Kyocera FS-C5025N review

£560
Price when reviewed

Prices for colour lasers may have dropped enough to make them affordable for small offices, but a drawback of these budget-priced boxes is often high running costs and substandard print quality. As its price tag suggests, Kyocera’s latest FS-C5025N stays away from this market and is aimed at professional users who aren’t prepared to sacrifice on quality andwant low running costs.

The printer certainly delivers on the second count, as all toner cartridges last for 8,000 pages and you have a maintenance kit that’s good for 200,000 pages. Overall costs per A4 mono page pan out to 0.9p, while colour pushes this to 4p per page. Compare these costs with TallyGenicom’s sub-£200 8108N, which sets you back 1.3p for a mono page and 9.1p for a colour page, and you can see where Kyocera is coming from.

The printer comes with an integral 500-sheet lower tray and you can add upto three more 500-sheet trays, along with an optional duplex unit. The printer is equipped with a decent 500MHz processor and the base memory can beupgraded to 640MB. Note that Kyocera wants around £210 for an extra256MB 100-pin DIMM – half that charged by HP. Installing the printer is simple, as the routine hunts down the device on the network and offers the most appropriate drivers. The printer’s web interface is basic, but it does provide plenty of information about consumables, easy access to settings and options to send alerts via email.

To get colour print speeds up to a reasonable level, the C5025N uses a single-pass system, where the toner cartridges are laid out in a line down the paper path. Sure enough, the system worked fine, as our 24-page test DTP document with plenty of colour graphics and photographs was completed in 1min 11secs for 20ppm. Mono speeds were on the money as well, with a 20-page Word document churned out in 58 seconds. The printer’s top resolution is 600 x 600dpi, so there isn’t much to play with in the driver panel – select the top-quality setting or choose from a couple oftoner-saving modes.

We found print quality to be disappointing overall. Text across a wide range of font sizes was sharp, and graphs and charts were delivered with no discernable banding. However, colour photos were lacklustre and a slight banding was noticeable in large areas comprising a single colour. The level of detail, particularly in darker areas, was good, but our test pictures lacked the vibrancy we’ve seen with Oki’s C5600n and Lexmark’s A-Listed C522n. Further investigation revealed reasonably smooth fills across colour fades, but grey shades composed of equal mixes of C, Y and M showed too much magenta.

The FS-C5025N scores highly for its speed and low running costs. Although the print quality makes it suited mainly to businesses looking for no more than asplash of colour in reports, the fact remains that as a workhorse laser it makes a good alternative to the A-Listed Lexmark.

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