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Fast entry-level mono laser printers hit the mark for wide range of workgroups

Issue #0909/2 – Having listed new models released within about the last quarter in the previous article, , in this article we pick the mono laser printer category for investigation, where we see two brand new models at 30ppm in the market and several others of similar speed that were launched in the few months previously. The line-up here is: the new Brother HL-5350DN, Epson AcuLaser M2000DN, Hewlett-Packard LaserJet P2055dn, the new Kyocera FS-1350DN, Oki B430dn and Xerox Phaser 3250DN. Only the M2000 and Phaser 3250 were launched before November 2008.

These devices comprise a curious category in the market. They are all fast workgroup printers at a speed that, several years ago, would have sent pulses racing and eyes spinning at the price! But, many of them are clearly designed as entry-level devices and have big sisters that will offer better Total Cost of Printing without a huge increase in print speed. Maximum duty cycle on several of the models is low, at around the 20,000-30,000 pages per month level, with an average or recommended duty cycle between 750 and 3,000 pages per month.

Kyocera FS-1350DNKyocera FS-1350DN

For instance, Kyocera’s FS-1350DN is one of the new 30ppm machines with a maximum duty cycle of 20,000 pages per month and a recommended average of 2,000 pages per month. Also new to the market is the FS-2020DN that, at 35ppm, adds just 5ppm to the speed. This model, however, has a maximum duty cycle of 150,000 pages per month (=7.5x higher), a recommended average of 4,000 (=double) and costs upwards of 70% more to purchase.

Crunch-time comes when the purchase of consumables is taken into account. While we will see later in this article that the FS-1350DN is a clear winner in the chosen grouping for both nominal CPP and Total Cost of Printing, the nominal CPP of the FS-2020DN is more than one-third (around 35.5%) below the level of the FS-1350DN. In relative terms it is a case of entry-level printer = high toner cost, while high-level printer = low toner cost.

Therefore, if run at the same average monthly throughput as the FS-1350DN (i.e. 2,000 pages per month), the owner would have spent a total of €1,221 after three years on the FS-2020DN and €1,251 on the FS-1350DN.

Kyocera FS-2020DNKyocera FS-2020DN

So, for anything above 2,000 pages per month, even though the FS-2020DN costs so much more to buy, the user will save money overall. The question this raises in present climate is, “will capital expenditure policies allow that much more to be spent on hardware, or will customers deliberately choose to save money up-front regardless of the higher overall cost”.

It would seem that this particular time in world economics is crying out for this very breed of printer, which could perhaps best be described as ‘fast entry-level’.

Sitting on the edge of this new breed in one respect, it is Hewlett-Packard’s LaserJet P2055DN and Oki’s B430dn that have a clear lead on duty cycle, with figures quoted at 50,000 pages and 70,000 pages per month respectively. Both are 28ppm printers rather than 30ppm but this is so close as to be of no consequence.

What is of consequence, however, is that the purchase prices associated with these two machines is well within the range of the group as a whole. In fact, the P2055DN has the lowest hardware purchase price in the group by 12% (but does, sadly, have the second highest nominal CPP).

Purchase Price

Workgroup Mono Laser Printers – ~30ppm


Epson’s M2000DN, Oki’s B430dn and Xerox’s Phaser 3250DN set the typical pricing level, all costing almost precisely the same at street level. Not surprisingly, Kyocera’s FS-1350DN is priced somewhat higher (23%) but there are considerable compensations after purchase, as we shall see. Also not surprisingly, Brother’s HL-5350DN comes in at a cost some 9% lower.

What is surprising is that Hewlett-Packard’s P2055DN is not only the least expensive to buy but also that it is so much less expensive. As mentioned, it comes in at about 12% below the price of the HL-5350DN but its pricing is around 20% lower than the group of three (Epson/Oki/Xerox) and a massive 35% lower than the Kyocera model.

Hewlett-Packard LaserJet P2055dnHewlett-Packard
LaserJet P2055dn

“Well, there must be a reason for it!”, I hear you say. And, yes there is – but it is not a lower specification as you might expect.

In fact, the LaserJet P2055dn stands out as the highest specified model in the group. It is rated at 33ppm; has Gigabit networking as standard; is capable of accepting a 500-sheet second paper feed and has the high 50,000-page duty cycle already mentioned.

Put into pure and simple terms, the reason the P2055dn is the cheapest to buy is that Hewlett-Packard has priced this model to sell – in big numbers! And the reason for wanting it to sell in big numbers is to give access to the subsequent supplies sales (the company may also need to clear excess inventory).

At 33ppm, the P2055dn has the speed, it is well equipped, it is a mono laser printer that will meet the needs of any but the most demanding business unit and workgroup (where heavy-duty production or sub-production units are required). The P2055dn is priced for the entry-level but specified for the power-user.

Brother
HL-5350DN
Print speed
Duty cycle
Network
Paper input
 
Duplex
Languages
Supplies
 
30 ppm
Not quoted
10/100 Ethernet
250-sheet plus 50-sheet multi-purpose
Optional 250-sheet feed
Standard automatic
PCL 6/PS 3 compatible
Drum: 25K
Toner: 3K Standard, 8K HY
Epson
AcuLaser M2000DN
Print speed
Duty cycle
Network
Paper input
 
Duplex
Languages
Supplies
28 ppm
Max 20,000/month
10/100 Ethernet
250-sheet plus 50-sheet multi-purpose
Optional 250-sheet feed (max 2)
Standard automatic
PCL 5e/PCL 6 compatible; Adobe PS 3; PDF 1.3
Toner: 3.5K Standard, 8K HY (ships with 2K)
Hewlett-Packard
LaserJet P2055dn
Print speed
Duty cycle
Network
Paper input
 
Duplex
Languages
Supplies
33 ppm
Max 50,000/month (recommended 750-3,000)
Gigabit Ethernet
250-sheet plus 50-sheet multi-purpose
Optional 500-sheet feed
Standard automatic
PCL 5c; PCL 6; PS 3 compatible
Toner: 2.3K Standard, 6.5K HY
Kyocera
FS-1350DN
Print speed
Duty cycle
Network
Paper input
 
Duplex
Languages
Supplies
30 ppm
Max 20,000/month (average 2,000)
10/100 Ethernet
250-sheet plus 50-sheet multi-purpose
Optional 250-sheet feed (max 2)
Standard automatic
PCL 6/PS 3 compatible
Toner: 7.2K (Ships with 3.6K effective)
Oki
B430dn
Print speed
Duty cycle
Network
Paper input
 
Duplex
Languages
Supplies
 
28 ppm
Max 70,000/month (average 3,000)
10/100 Ethernet
250-sheet plus 50-sheet multi-purpose
Optional 530-sheet feed
Standard automatic
PCL 6/PS 3 compatible
Drum: 25,000
Toner: 3.5K Standard, 7K HY (ships with 1.5K)
Xerox
Phaser 3250DN
Print speed
Duty cycle
Network
Paper input
 
Duplex
Languages
Supplies
28 ppm
30,000/month
10/100 Ethernet
250-sheet plus 1-sheet multi-purpose
Optional 250-sheet feed
Standard automatic
PCL 6/PS 3 compatible
Toner: 3.5K Standard, 5K HY (ships with 2K)

In general, all of these printers offer very much the same capabilities and features. They have been deliberately chosen for this group because they are all network and duplex capable out of the box but they are all also PCL and PostScript compatible, all have a standard 250-sheet main paper feed and all offer an optional second paper feed.

On the up-side, Epson and Kyocera offer the ability to add two additional paper feeds, taking the maximum paper capacity to 800 sheets in each case (against 501 or 550 sheets from Brother and Xerox). Handling paper flexibility in a slightly different way, the P2055dn and Oki’s B430dn offer a second paper feed that is high capacity – 500 or 530 sheets. So, the maximum paper capacity on these models is still around 800 sheets but from only three sources rather than four.

Xerox Phaser 2350DNXerox Phaser 2350DN

On the down-side, Xerox’s Phaser 3250DN has a maximum toner capacity restricted to 5,000 pages (and shipping with only 2,000 pages-worth), whereas four models accept toners offering 7,000 pages or higher. Hewlett-Packard’s P2055dn falls between the two, at 6,500 pages.

Oki actually ships the least toner – worth only 1,500 pages. It is Kyocera’s FS-1350DN that offers the highest starter toner capacity, 3,600 pages, and the company avoids building a special starter cartridge (or even standard capacity cartridge) by shipping the printer with a full high capacity cartridge offering 7,200 pages-worth of toner. The reason this falls to 3,600 pages in the first cartridge is simply that the printer has to prime its toner delivery system when first installed and this process takes 50% of the toner in that first cartridge into the system. Subsequent cartridges then deliver the full 7,200 pages.

This, together with Kyocera’s pricing strategy, contributes to the relatively low nominal CPP for the FS-1350DN, which is low enough to push the Total Cost of Printing down to the lowest level in the group despite the high purchase price. The total expenditure over three years (and therefore the long-term CPP) is 14% lower than Oki’s B430dn, the closest competitor. Relative to the most costly device (Epson’s M2000DN), the FS-1350DN is 33% less expensive over three years.

Epson AcuLaser M2000DNEpson AcuLaser M2000DN

Alarmingly, with Epson taking a leaf out of Lexmark’s book and offering ‘Return & Recycle’ cartridges for the M2000 series, we are seeing this printer being the most expensive in the group. If we were to price the calculation up using the return & recycle cartridge (18% cheaper but with the commitment to return the used cartridge only to Epson), we’d see the Total Cost of Printing falling by just over 15%. However, at 2.13 cents per page overall, this only brings the TCP to a point in the middle of the group and still above the average TCP!

What this means is that Epson is not pricing the Return & Recycle cartridge below the cost of the standard cartridges, thereby offering customers a benefit through returning the empty cartridges to Epson, but is rather penalising customers who choose not to commit to the return program with a toner price that is inflated above normal levels – hence the M2000DN actually coming out as the most expensive machine in this group.

Fast Entry-Level mono laser
Median Street Price – Germany
Purchase Nominal
CPP
Total spend
over 3 years
Long-term CPP
over 3 years
Brother
HL-5350DN
€283 1.76 cents €1,768 1.96 cents
Epson
AcuLaser M2000DN
€310 2.04 cents €2,266 2.52 cents
Hewlett-Packard
LaserJet P2055dn
€248 2.02 cents €2,086 2.32 cents
Kyocera
FS-1350DN
€382 1.21 cents €1,512 1.68 cents
Oki
B430dn
€310 1.68 cents €1,757 1.95 cents
Xerox
Phaser 3250DN
€309 1.81 cents €1,940 2.16 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 2,500 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.

Total Cost of Printing

Workgroup Mono Laser Printers – ~30ppm

Brother HL-5350DNBrother HL-5350DN

To come back to the newly launched printers in the group, Brother’s HL-5350DN competes hard with Oki to be the next most competitive to the Kyocera FS-1350DN. Both printers benefit from two-part supplies but Oki just slips in as the number two in the group much of the time even though it has a higher hardware purchase price.

Oki B430dnOki B430dn
One really interesting point to note at this point is that low-volume users can benefit significantly from a purchase of the Brother HL-5350DN due to its 8,000-page high capacity toner and separate imaging drum. At 500 pages per month over three years, this printer will cost an owner 14% less than the Oki and a massive 40% less than the Epson, making it the cheapest printer to own. It would require the purchase of only two toner cartridges over the three years and no imaging drums at all!

Total Cost of Printing

Workgroup Mono Laser Printers – ~30ppm


To conclude, both new printers offer excellent value for money in terms of hardware specification and print capabilities for a busy workgroup. It is Kyocera’s business model and pricing strategy that makes the FS-1350DN stand out from the pack as a worthy winner on Total Cost of Printing.

Clearly, while other manufacturers are looking to present the market with models that offer either outstanding specification, hardware purchase price or toner cost, Epson appears now to be missing the mark with the older, high-cost M2000DN.

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