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Oki's C6100n colour laser printer

If nothing else, the C6100n colour LED printer from Oki Printing Solutions is very fast printing text. A colour laser printer has to do a lot more than that, however, and the C6100n is a little expensive considering its shortcomings in usability and print quality.

The C6100n's text speed of 28.4 pages per minute (ppm) in our tests far surpassed that of any other competitor currently in our rankings, including the like-priced Lexmark C780n. Its graphics speeds were middling--3.9 ppm at best. The printer's toner has a shiny look that some people might find distracting; you can dial the black toner down to a matte finish through the driver. The text itself looked very good, but graphics displayed multiple problems. On plain paper, photos exhibited noticeable moiré patterns and oversaturated or excessively dark colours. Flesh tones looked orangey. On Oki's own glossy laser paper, the colours and patterns calmed down somewhat.

The physical design of the printer feels solid and sturdy. You can supplement the 300-sheet standard input tray with an optional 530-sheet input tray. Finding the 50-sheet multipurpose tray can be a challenge--unmarked, it shares a front panel with another door--but it is impressively sturdy as well. It partners with a 100-sheet, foldout rear exit path to help escort thicker media safely through the machine. The top of the unit includes a 250-sheet output tray.

I didn't like the control-panel design. It consists of a two-line colour/monochrome LCD plus a handful of buttons, some of which are confusing: To call up the on-screen menus, for instance, you press the '+' sign, and to exit a menu, you press the 'On Line' button. To its credit, Oki includes a quick-reference guide--helpful for many operations--that you can attach to the side of the printer.

The entire top panel lifts upward to reveal the toner cartridges, sitting in a row over the paper path. Each comes in two parts: a toner supply and a photoconductor unit. Sliding an adjacent lever either unites or separates the two pieces. The machine ships with full-size 6000-page black and 5000-page cyan, magenta, and yellow supplies.

The C6100n might have been more attractive at a lower price. Despite its top text-printing speed, the rest of the package is well built but unremarkable.