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Epson launches M8000N A3 mono laser printer claiming versatility “at an extremely low overall cost”

Issue 0915/1 – Epson’s new AcuLaser M8000N, marks the first A3 mono laser printer to come to market in nearly a year and several competing models date back to 2006 and earlier. With the M8000 pushing Epson’s top-end A3 printer print speed up to 44ppm (A4), in this article we find out how this model sits amongst its competitors, particularly with regard to the cost claims made in the marketing collateral.

Epson says, “The fast and compact AL-M8000N A3 monochrome laser printer series delivers a versatile print solution for business at an extremely low overall cost”. Clearly, there are different ways of looking at the claims in this statement.

Firstly, regarding speed, 44ppm is fast but not exceptionally so. The M8000 is 9ppm faster than its predecessor (EPL-N7000) and it falls neatly between two groups of printers, rated at 40ppm and at around 50ppm – and it is on this basis that the competition has been selected for these comparisons.

And secondly, ‘extremely low cost’. Unfortunately, cost is a more dynamic factor and we’ll investigate this is detail shortly. Right now, suffice it to say that Total Cost of Printing on the M8000 is never the lowest amongst its competitive grouping and can be the highest. Therefore, this claim falls very much into the same category as the much-overused description of printers as ‘affordable’ – dubious at best with a tendency to be misleading and suspect.

However, let’s first consider the ‘versatility’ issue separately because there are a number of elements that comprise versatility and the M8000 can claim to be versatile enough for many business hard copy situations. Even here though, the M8000 is limited in its capabilities.

Epson AL-M8000DNEpson AcuLaser M8000DN

For instance, while its standard paper handling is typical of an A4 class of printer, at 600 sheets it falls short of its A3 competitors by a significant margin. These 600 sheets are fed from only two sources, comprising a 500-sheet enclosed paper tray and 100-sheet multi-purpose feed. By comparison, every one of the seven close competitors offers three sources as standard with a capacity of 1,100 sheets.

By the time optional paper units have been added, capacity on the M8000 can be pushed to 2,150 sheets in the form of three additional 500-sheet feeds. This compares rather poorly with a maximum capacity from competitors that is never below 3,100 sheets (Hewlett-Packard LaserJet 9040 and 9050) and is as high as 5,100 sheets (Lexmark W840, Oki B930 and Xerox Phaser 5550). Indeed the M8000 is the only printer in the line-up without a high-capacity paper feed available to it.

Xerox is the only manufacturer to be offering Gigabit networking as standard on its A3 mono offering, although it can be purchased as an option on other models. Epson’s interfaces are very typical of the class of printer, with fast Ethernet sitting alongside USB and Parallel interfaces.

Even duty cycle on the M8000 is on the low side. At a maximum rating of 200,000 pages per month, the M8000 sits alongside the two Kyocera models but lacks the fortitude to match the 300,000 pages per month specified for the other printers in this group.

Epson does, however, provide genuine Adobe PostScript 3, together with PDF direct printing capability. Only Xerox also offers genuine Adobe products whereas all other models run with PostScript emulations. Where Epson is not able to provide the original, is in the provision of PCL compatible printing. Being a Hewlett-Packard proprietary language, Hewlett-Packard is the only manufacturer to offer the original, meaning that other brands have to be equipped with emulations.

Oki B930 fully configuredOki B930 fully configured

Epson’s model range is definitely ‘versatile’, comprising a total of five models ranging from a basic network-ready model to a model that is duplex-ready and fully configured with three 500-sheet paper feeds.

Pricing of these models is reasonably competitive, with the duplex/network-ready model (DN) actually costing less to buy than any of the competitors, even taking into account the slower 40ppm models in the line-up. In fact, Epson’s M8000DN, sells for less than the 50ppm base models from Hewlett-Packard (LJ9050) and Lexmark (W840) that are equipped with neither network interface nor duplex unit. It cannot, however, match the low purchase cost of two of the other 50ppm printers, Oki’s B930n and Xerox’s Phaser 5550 and 5550n.

A3 Mono Laser Printer – € Germany Base model Network Twin feed / Network Duplex / Network Duplex / twin feed / Network
Epson
AcuLaser-M8000
€2,326 €2,729 €2,565 €2,900
Hewlett-Packard
LaserJet 9040
€2,404 €3,125 €3,615
Hewlett-Packard
LaserJet 9050
€2,997 €3,957 €4,394
Kyocera
FS-9130DN
€2,730
Kyocera
FS-9530DN
€3,853
Lexmark
W840
€2,781 €3,343 €3,879
Oki
B930
€2,199 €2,569 €3,364
Xerox
Phaser 5550
€2,171 €2,299 €2,729

Note: All prices are Median Street Price, sourced in Germany and include tax.

Epson
AcuLaser-M8000DN
Print speed
Network
Languages
Paper input
Max paper input
Supplies
Duty cycle
44 ppm
10/100 Ethernet (plus USB; Parallel)
PCL 5e/6 emulations; Adobe PS3, PDF 1.3
500 sheets plus 100 sheets
2,150 sheets (adds 3x 500-sheet feeds)
15,000 standard (optional twin-pack – Return)
200,000 pages
Hewlett-Packard
LaserJet 9040dn
Print speed
Network
Languages
Paper input
Max paper input
Supplies
Duty cycle
40 ppm
10/100 Ethernet (plus Parallel)
PCL 5e; PCL 6; PS3, PDF 1.3 emulations
2x 500 sheets plus 100 sheets
3,100 sheets (adds 2,000-sheet feed)
30,000 pages
300,000 pages
Hewlett-Packard
LaserJet 9050dn
Print speed
Network
Languages
Paper input
Max paper input
Supplies
Duty cycle
50 ppm
10/100 Ethernet (plus Parallel)
PCL 5e; PCL 6; PS3, PDF 1.3 emulations
2x 500 sheets plus 100 sheets
3,100 sheets (adds 2,000-sheet feed)
30,000 pages
300,000 pages
Kyocera
FS-9130DN
Print speed
Network
Languages
Paper input
Max paper input
Supplies
Duty cycle
40 ppm
10/100 Ethernet (plus USB; Parallel)
PCL 5e/6, PS3 emulations; PDF; PRESCRIBE IIe
2x 500 sheets plus 200 sheets
4,200 sheets (adds 3,000-sheet feed)
40,000 pages
200,000 pages
Kyocera
FS-9530DN
Print speed
Network
Languages
Paper input
Max paper input
Supplies
Duty cycle
51 ppm
10/100 Ethernet (plus USB; Parallel)
PCL 5e/6, PS3 emulations; PDF; PRESCRIBE IIe
2x 500 sheets plus 200 sheets
4,200 sheets (adds 3,000-sheet feed)
40,000 pages
200,000 pages
Lexmark
W840dn
Print speed
Network
Languages
Paper input
Max paper input
Supplies
Duty cycle
50 ppm
10/100 Ethernet (plus USB; Parallel)
PCL 5e/6, PS3, PDF 1.5 emulations
2x 500 sheets plus 100 sheets
5,100 sheets (adds dual 2,000-sheet feed)
30,000-page Toner; 60,000-page Drum
300,000 pages
Oki
B930dn
Print speed
Network
Languages
Paper input
Max paper input
Supplies
Duty cycle
50 ppm
10/100 Ethernet (plus USB; Parallel; Serial)
PCL 5e/6, PS3 emulations
2x 500 sheets plus 100 sheets
5,100 sheets (adds dual 2,000-sheet feed)
33,000-page Toner; 60,000-page Drum
300,000 pages
Xerox
Phaser 5550DN
Print speed
Network
Languages
Paper input
Max paper input
Supplies
Duty cycle
50 ppm
Gigabit Ethernet (plus USB; Parallel)
PCL 5e/6 emulations; Adobe PS3
2x 500 sheets plus 100 sheets
5,100 sheets (adds 2x 1K plus 2K-sheet feeds)
35,000 pages
300,000 pages

Finally, toner yield quoted for the M8000 is 15,000 pages whereas all of the competitors boast toners with a yield of 30,000 pages or higher. Kyocera’s FS-9130 and FS-9530 top the bill here, with a massive yield of 40,000 pages – more than 2½ times the capacity of the M8000 and 14% higher even than the Xerox Phaser 5550 at 35,000 pages.

What Epson does offer is a twin pack that falls within the company’s ‘Return Imaging Cartridge Programme’. The twin-pack is not available outside the programme and pricing is very beneficial to the user, costing only 35% more than the cost of two individual standard cartridges (single toners are also available under the toner collection programme).

As usual, we will take the duplex and network-ready models (DN) for comparison because this is the minimum specification that a serious, cost-conscious, environment-conscious organisation should consider.

As we have seen already, the Epson M8000DN is price-competitive in the group, falling just a little lower on price than Kyocera’s 40ppm FS-9130DN. However, for about the same price it is possible to buy the 50ppm Oki B930dn or for just a little more, Xerox’s 50ppm Phaser 5550DN.

Hardware Purchase

A3 Mono Laser Printer


So, for cost-competitiveness we have to consider the supplies, total expenditure over a period of ownership and the long-term Total Cost of Printing.

It is here that we see the impact that the twin-pack return toner has on the equation.

Standard toner for the M8000 is horrendously expensive – 1.32 cents per page, when only the Lexmark toner (known for its high price) is the only other toner to cost more than one cent per page. With toner from Kyocera costing only 0.61 cents per page, Epson’s standard toner is more than double the cost.

But, clearly it is the total spend and long-term CPP that really counts because that takes into account the purchase of the printer in the first place, together with the toner that needs to be bought during the period of ownership and any other supplies and maintenance items that are required to print a specified number of pages.

A3 Mono Laser Printer
€ Germany
Purchase/
Duty Cycle
Print Speed Nominal
CPP
Long-term CPP
over 3 years
Epson
AcuLaser-M8000DN
€2,565
200,000 pages
? ppm ? cents ? cents
M8000DN with ‘return’ toner twin-pack ? cents ? cents
Hewlett-Packard
LaserJet 9040dn
€3,615
300,000 pages
? ppm ? cents ? cents
Hewlett-Packard
LaserJet 9050dn
€4,394
300,000 pages
? ppm ? cents ? cents
Kyocera
FS-9130DN
€2,730
200,000 pages
? ppm ? cents ? cents
Kyocera
FS-9530DN
€3,853
200,000 pages
? ppm ? cents ? cents
Lexmark
W840dn
€3,879
300,000 pages
? ppm ? cents ? cents
Oki
B930dn
€2,569
300,000 pages
? ppm ? cents ? cents
Xerox
Phaser 5550dn
€2,729
300,000 pages
? ppm ? cents ? cents

Note that for this group of printers, the long-term Cost of Printing over three years shown in the accompanying table is calculated on the basis of 15,000 pages per month; 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, sourced in Germany, and include tax.

It is here that we see the low cost of the Epson M8000DN compensating a little for the high cost of toner but not enough to make it competitive as a printer to own. However, we also see how the ‘Return Imaging Cartridge Programme’ pulls the Total Cost of Printing down to a sensible level but not to a competitive level – there are still four printers that cost less to own in the long term than the M8000DN with return toner. These include the Kyocera FS-9530DN even though its purchase price is a huge 50% higher than the M8000DN. At 50ppm and with a maximum paper input capacity of 4,200 sheets, the benefits of the FS-9530DN are clear.

Two of the other printers that cost less (B930dn and Phaser 5550DN) are also 50ppm machines (meaning that Kyocera does not have the most economical 50ppm A3 printer!), and offer the highest paper capacity of the group. And Gigabit networking is standard on the Phaser 5550DN.

Then, the most economical 40-50ppm A3 mono laser printer is the Kyocera FS-9130DN, with long-term CPP that is 20% lower than the M8000DN using twin-pack return toners and is a massive 38% lower than the M8000DN with regular toners.

Cost Per Page and Total Cost of Printing

A3 Mono Laser Printer


If we then take a look at a range of page volumes over three years, we find that the M8000DN falls in the middle of the group throughout the range of volumes, even using twin-pack return toners! If regular toners are used, it is only the low purchase price that prevents the M8000DN being the most expensive printer throughout. As it is, the printer falls in the upper middle of the group at 5,000 pages per month but, having become the most expensive printer at 15,000 pages per month, continues to widen the gap as page count increases to the point where it is 12% more expensive at 30,000 pages per month even than the Lexmark.

Total Cost of Printing

A3 Mono Laser Printer


Therefore, here we again find an instance where a return cartridge programme is used not to benefit users who choose to participate but to penalise heavily those who may not wish, or who are unable, to commit to the programme for some reason. This is despite Epson’s claim that “The Return Imaging Cartridge Programme further contributes to the low running costs and makes this printer an extremely cost-effective solution”.

Unfortunately, whereas this statement could be deemed to be true on the basis that the solution does not cost three times more, surely the measure has to be against competing offerings in the market. On this basis, the statement just cannot stand because, even using the return cartridge programme, the M8000DN only falls somewhere around the average cost for printers in the category – many of which beat the M8000 hands down in terms of specification.

So, while the M8000 is a perfectly capable machine, with costs that are not exorbitant (as long as users commit to buying twin packs of return program cartridges), there are several solutions on offer that are considerably more cost-effective, flexible and versatile.

~ END ~