Ricoh's Aficio SP C222DN, the company's latest foray into lower-cost colour laser printers, demonstrates some of the challenges of price cutting. This midpriced printer performs adequately but could use some refinement.
The problems begin with the installation. The poster-size guide for physical setup is wordless but pretty clear. It says to proceed to the "Software Installation Guide for Network Connection" for further instructions, but those are woefully inadequate, missing steps and key details. Worse, a document covering USB installation is available only on the included CD, making it less than readily available. The rest of the documentation, available in both HTML and PDF, is good.
The design also flummoxed me at various points. The control panel's few buttons perform some functions through obscure key combinations, and the printer has no LCD to spell them out for you. The foldout front panel lacks handles and feels flimsy, as does the 250-sheet main input tray. Extending the tray for legal-size paper involves a finicky pinch-and-pull process; the handle for pulling out the tray is in the same area as the manual-feed slot, too, which can be confusing. The top-exiting, 150-sheet output tray is straightforward, at least. An optional 500-sheet input tray is available. Automatic duplexing is standard, which is nice.
In our tests text documents ambled out at a pace of 17.4 pages per minute (ppm) and graphics pieces output at 2.4 ppm (at best). Text looked dark and precise; but graphics we printed on plain paper suffered from a slightly faded look, as well as graininess or moiré patterns. Glossy laser paper only partially mitigated the flaws. Ricoh garnered an reliability rating of Average in our Reliability and Service survey.
Because the SP C222DN's toner capacities are low, its consumables costs are high. The machine ships with 1000-page black, cyan, magenta, and yellow cartridges. The standard-size cartridges last for 2000 pages each and cost US$55 for black (2.7 cents per page) and $100 for each colour (5 cents per colour, per page). The cartridges are easy to lift in and out of their respective slots inside the machine, but I didn't like how the transfer belt lies exposed during the process.