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Canon’s new 20ppm i-SENSYS LBP7200 colour laser printer is a high-cost, low specification option for business colour printing

Issue #0917/1 – Following its announcement in March, Canon’s 20ppm i-SENSYS LBP7200 colour laser printer is now fully available on the market but positions itself firmly at the top end of the cost spectrum, with relatively high purchase price and very high cost of supplies. Comparing the LBP7200 to competitors from Brother, Epson, Hewlett-Packard, Kyocera, Lexmark, Oki and Samsung, throws up some surprises and consolidates some expectations.

With a median purchase price of €515 in Germany, the hardware price of the LBP7200Cdn is exceeded only by the Kyocera FS-C5200DN (as fully expected) and Epson’s C2800DN. Bizarrely, this places the price right on the average price for the group but only because the prices of these two other printers push the average up so high. In reality, the Canon is third most expensive to buy, meaning that there are no less than five machines that are less expensive to buy.

Hardware Purchase

20ppm Colour Laser Printers


But, this is the least significant factor in choosing a flexible, efficient and cost-effective colour laser printer. Far more important than the hardware price is the suitability of the device to the user’s particular print environment, and hard copy needs, and whether the machine is flexible enough to handle those needs.

Most important of all though, once suitability has been established, is the overall cost of running the machine for the length of time that the user anticipates owning and running it for. Users who do not take this into consideration risk overspending on their print requirements by anything up to 86%, depending on the number of pages printed. And that is just within this group of printers. Elsewhere, the overspend can be even higher.

So, let’s first establish technical capabilities for this group of colour printers.

At the 20ppm mark, this category of printer is very much the entry position for businesses looking for serious business colour printing. There are slower and cheaper colour laser printers available but, apart from being slow, they are much more expensive to run and tend largely to be host-based rather than offering PCL or PostScript capabilities.

Canon LBP7200CdnCanon i-SENSYS LBP7200Cdn

This makes it all the more surprising then that the Canon LBP7200Cdn is one of only two members of this particular category that are host-based and not PCL and PostScript capable – for the price, a major problem! Oki’s C5650dn is the other host-based printer, having a hardware purchase price at very much the same level as the LBP-7200Cdn. These two manufacturers appear to be attempting to skirt around the print language issue, relying on the ignorance of purchasers to keep the price higher than would be expected for a host-based printer on the basis that ‘the printer prints, so why is anything else required?’.

Five of the other printers in this group offer the extra capabilities of PCL and PostScript printer language compatibility – Brother HL-4050CDN, Epson C2800DN, Hewlett-Packard CP2025dn, Kyocera FS-C5200DN and Lexmark C543dn – and Samsung’s CLP-610ND offers just PCL compatibility. However, Epson and Kyocera offer much more, with true adobe PostScript and PDF direct printing available from Epson and PDF/XPS direct printing available from Kyocera along with its proprietary PreScribe IIc.

While all of the printers chosen for inclusion here have duplex printing and network connectivity built in, there are other models available in most cases. What this means is that printer language is one of the most significant specification comparisons to make, along with paper handling capabilities. Beyond this, the yield of the supplies is often a very good indication of the overall Total Cost of Printing that can be expected from the machine in question. Even taking print languages out of the equation, the LBP-7200Cdn struggles to compete well on specification.

Epson C2800DNEpson AcuLaser C2800DN

Paper handling first – most of these printers have a standard capacity of 250 sheets with an additional multi-purpose feed ranging between 1 sheet (Lexmark C543) and a hefty 150 sheets (Epson C2800 and Kyocera FS-C5200). Canon is no exception, with a standard 250-sheet feed and 50-sheet multi-purpose feed, but it is Kyocera’s FS-C5200DN that offers the most significant divergence from the norm, with a standard feed as high as 500 sheets plus 150-sheet multi-purpose feed. Oki’s C5650dn also exceeds the norm, with a main feed of 300 sheets and a 100-sheet multipurpose feed.

It is paper handling expansion options that really set these machines apart though. Canon’s engine (also used by Hewlett-Packard in the CP2025) offers expansion capacity only for a further 250 sheets of paper from one source. Most of the other printers in the group at least double this expansion capability and Kyocera’s FS-C5200DN offers capacity for three additional 500-sheet feeds, giving the printer a maximum capacity of 2,150 sheets from five sources.

Brother
HL-4050CDN
€ 452.98
Print speed
Duty cycle
Network
Paper input
 
Duplex
Languages
Max Supplies
20 ppm
Not quoted
10/100 Ethernet
250-sheet plus 50-sheet multi-purpose
Optional 500-sheet feed
Standard
PCL 6/PS 3 compatible
K-5K; CMY-4K (ships with 2.5K/1.5K)
Canon
i-SENSYS LBP7200Cdn
€ 514.65
Print speed
Duty cycle
Network
Paper input
 
Duplex
Languages
Max Supplies
20 ppm
Max 40K/month
10/100 Ethernet
250-sheet plus 50-sheet multi-purpose
Optional 250-sheet feed
Standard
Host-based
K-3.4K; CMY-2.9K (ships with 1.2K/1.4K)
Epson
AcuLaser C2800DN
€ 660.44
Print speed
Duty cycle
Network
Paper input
 
Duplex
Languages
 
Max Supplies
25/20 ppm
Not quoted
10/100 Ethernet
250-sheet plus 150-sheet multi-purpose
Optional 550-sheet feed
Standard
PCL 5e/PCL 6 compatible; Adobe PS 3;
PDF 1.3
K-8K; CMY-6K (ships with 3K/2K)
Hewlett-Packard
Colour LaserJet CP2025dn
€ 460.56
Print speed
Duty cycle
Network
Paper input
 
Duplex
Languages
Max Supplies
20 ppm
Max 40K/month
10/100 Ethernet
250-sheet plus 50-sheet multi-purpose
Optional 250-sheet feed
Standard
PCL 5c; PCL 6; PS 3 compatible
K-3.5K; CMY-2.8K
Kyocera
FS-C5200DN
€ 705.12
Print speed
Duty cycle
Network
Paper input
 
Duplex
Languages
 
Max Supplies
21 ppm
Max 65K/month (Average 12,000)
10/100 Ethernet
500-sheet plus 150-sheet multi-purpose
Optional 500-sheet feed (max 3)
Standard
PCL 5c/PCL 6/PS 3 compatible;
PDF/XPS Direct
K-7K; CMY-6K (ships with 3.5K/3K)
Lexmark
C543dn
€ 372.81
Print speed
Duty cycle
Network
Paper input
 
Duplex
Languages
Max Supplies
20/20 ppm
Max 35K/month
10/100 Ethernet
250-sheet plus 1-sheet multi-purpose
Optional 550+100-sheet feed
Standard
PCL 5c/PCL 6/PS 3 compatible
K-4K; CMY-5K (ships with 4K/3K Return)
Oki
C5650dn
€ 499.94
Print speed
Duty cycle
Network
Paper input
 
Duplex
Languages
Max Supplies
32/22 ppm
Max 60K/month (Average 1,500-5,000)
10/100 Ethernet
300-sheet plus 100-sheet multi-purpose
Optional 530-sheet feed
Standard
Host-based
K-8K; CMY-6K (ships with CMYK-2,250)
Samsung
CLP-610ND
€ 442.95
Print speed
Duty cycle
Network
Paper input
Duplex
Languages
Max Supplies
20 ppm
Max 65K/month
10/100 Ethernet
250-sheet plus 100-sheet multi-purpose
Standard
PCL 6 compatible
K-5.5K; CMY-5K (ships with 2.5K/2K)

Moving on to supplies, we see that there is a considerable variation in yield from machine to machine. Black yield varies from 3,400 pages to 8,000 pages per cartridge, while colour yields vary from 2,800 pages to 6,000 pages per cartridge.

This, in itself, is enough to rule out several printers, simply because the low yield means many more interventions when using the printer. However, we also find that there is a direct correlation between cartridge yield and cost of toner – i.e. cents per page printed with that cartridge.

Seen most strikingly with the black toners, because black is still the staple diet even of a colour printer, the chart below shows very clearly that the cartridges with a high yield are proportionately cheaper per page than cartridges with a low yield.

Black Yield vs. Toner CPP

20ppm Colour Laser Printers

At the extremes are the Canon cartridge for the LBP7200Cdn, with a low yield and a high cost per page, while Kyocera and Oki’s cartridges have a high yield but very low cost per page. Also with high yield is Epson’s C2800DN but Epson has kept the cost per page rather higher than might be expected for the yield.

In fact, it is Oki that is particularly bucking the historical trend here. Whereas Kyocera is known for very low cost supplies following on from a high hardware price, in this instance, the Oki C5650dn also has a relatively high hardware price but this unexpectedly low black cartridge cost, undercutting the cost even of the Kyocera toner.

However, the same cannot necessarily be said for colour toner costs.

Because colour printing is seen as the ‘icing on the cake’ for the manufacturers (which is why they are so keen to promote printing in colour!), the correlation is not quite as well-defined as with black toner. However, the basic principle still stands – for instance, the low-yield Canon and Hewlett-Packard cartridges cost most, while the high-yield Kyocera cartridge costs least.

Colour Yield vs. Toner CPP

20ppm Colour Laser Printers

It is between the extremes that we see some divergence from the correlation – for instance, having offered an extremely low cost per page on the black toner, Oki has a very high colour toner yield but also a cost that is right up amongst the highest (Canon, Hewlett-Packard and Lexmark).

In both of these charts, one of the surprises comes from Samsung. For both cartridge types we find a relatively high yield and low cost. No surprise perhaps! But, Samsung has shown the tendency since its entry into the printer market to offer hardware at very low prices and supplies at high prices – resulting in a Total Cost of Printing that is generally at the high end of any competitive grouping.

In the case of the CLP-610ND, we find mid-priced hardware and high-yield toners with lower than average toner costs. By the time we put all of this together into the Total Cost of Printing model, seen in the chart below, we find Samsung occupying an unfamiliar position towards the lower end of the cost spectrum.

Rather less surprisingly, Lexmark and Hewlett-Packard fall at the high end of the spectrum, emphatically joined by this new model from Canon.

Total Cost of Printing

20ppm Colour Laser Printers

Note that for this level of machine, the mixed mono/colour CPP over three years shown in the accompanying table is calculated on the basis of 1,250 pages per month; 70% pages in mono and 30% pages in colour; is based on the use of maximum capacity supplies; takes into account any standard, or starter, supplies shipped with the device; and also includes the cost of purchase. All prices are Median Street Price without tax, sourced in Germany.

Thus, it is in the Kyocera model that we find the lowest Total Cost of Printing but with the Samsung and host-based Oki machines in fairly close contention. In fact, if we run the Total Cost of Printing model across a range of page volumes (see the chart below), we find that the Samsung CLP-610ND is snapping very hard at Kyocera’s heels.

Total Cost of Printing

20ppm Colour Laser Printers

From this chart we see that all three of the machines mentioned as being expensive, Lexmark, Hewlett-Packard and Canon, are established at the high-price end of the chart from the 1,000 pages per month level upwards. Below this level of usage the situation is much more confused, depending very much on the yield of the consumables in question – meaning that the precise page count shown could represent a point at which the cartridges have just been changed (and the money spent) but not used. It is the Epson C2800DN that demonstrates this most clearly at the 250 and 750 page level where unfortunate timing of a change of its high-yield toners (with correspondingly high ticket price) causes the long-term CPP to jump to the top of the chart just briefly before settling into the middle regions of the chart.

A clearer indication of the overall cost comparison is the right hand end of the chart where the higher page counts are shown and the chart positions are more stable. As a printer owner is unlikely to discard a printer immediately after spending money on changing cartridges, it is the trend that is important in making a purchase decision rather than the precise positioning at a specific page count on this chart. Following this approach, we can be confident that the C2800DN would not be unduly prejudicial to an owner at a low page count, as long as the life-cycle of the machine is sensibly managed.

Samsung CLP-610NDSamsung CLP-610ND

So, the overall picture is of Samsung providing a surprising challenge to Kyocera for cost-efficiency while the Canon, Hewlett-Packard and Lexmark printers should be avoided because of low toner yields (in the case of Canon and Hewlett-Packard) and high costs. The other machines (Brother, Epson and Oki) fill the middle ground with mid to high-yield cartridges and acceptable costs.

In conclusion, from a hardware standpoint, Canon’s LBP 7200Cdn is of only standard capability for paper handling, is sub-standard on print language and uses low capacity toner cartridges. With the cost implications of the low-yield toners, this printer just does not cut it as an efficient, flexible and cost-effective printer for business use.

Kyocera FS-C5200DNKyocera FS-C5200DN

Kyocera’s FS-C5200DN, on the other hand, presents the best value in the category in every respect – a high specification with very flexible, high-capacity paper handling capabilities, the most wide-ranging and complete print language set, high duty cycle and high-capacity toners. Add in the ECOSYS technology, providing its low-cost and low-intervention benefits, and the FS-C5200DN represents the best technical and cost option for the majority of business users – regardless of page count. The only issue for a purchaser is the high initial hardware cost.

Also with a high duty cycle, reasonably high toner yields and low costs, the limited paper handling and print language capabilities of the Samsung CLP-610ND should not deter users working in undemanding environments.

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