Oki C5900N review

Price when reviewed

While most manufacturers use laser engines, Oki perseveres with its own LED-based technology. It’s a system that has benefits but also some drawbacks.

The main advantage is speed. Most colour lasers these days perform colour prints in a single pass, but the C5900N seems quicker than most, especially with large, complex pages, and it has very quick first-page print times. It delivered our photo montage in just 33 seconds, while the Lexmark C780n took more than three minutes to print the same job. For longer runs, however, the Oki’s slower page-per-minute rate comes into play: in our 50-page monochrome newsletter test it came third, behind Epson and the Lexmark, but far ahead of the Canon and the HP.

None of the three Oki printers in this month’s Labs excelled in our quality tests, but the C5900N’s only major problems were over-saturated, slightly unreal colours and gradients that were more heavily dithered than we’d like. Overall, the output is perfectly acceptable, even though the HP CP3505x or Lexmark C780n produce visibly cleaner output.

One nice note of versatility is the multipurpose feed’s ability to take card up to 203gsm in weight – a feature shared by several printers, but lacking in the Canon and HP, which are limited to heavy paper. You could feasibly use the C5900N, or a similarly equipped device, to run off business cards.

The Oki also scores highly when it comes to manageability: businesses will appreciate the host of network management tools included, which, in conjunction with the printer’s embedded web server, give you masses of control over the printer, who uses it and what it’s used for. Admins can even set budgets for individual users and groups based on page counts or the cost of consumables.

This ability to manage consumable costs is especially welcome because, while the Oki’s purchase price is unremarkable enough, the relatively high price-per-page quickly adds up. We calculate that, for most workloads, the C5900N is the second most expensive business printer here.

Yet, if it isn’t stunningly economical, the C5900N is still fair value for what you get. It’s flexible, offers print quality good enough for most purposes, and is faster than the award-winning HP.

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