I am a real estate sales professional. I have long been obsessed with print quality as I purchased printing hardware for work related publications, such as color brochures. Most recently, I have been using an Epson Accu-Laser CX11NF, which produces outstanding color images. I wanted to purchase an additional color laser printer that would overcome some of the weak points of my Epson. Specifically, I wanted something that would print on 11x17 paper; would have significantly faster print speed than a four-pass printer; would have longer life consumables; could be configured to perform auto-duplex printing; and would still enjoy the best possible color image output.
Recommend this product?
The Konica Minolta Magicolor 7450 pushes all the right buttons for me, and it does so with a couple of important advantages over competing models: First, it is relatively small when compared to other large format printers, and second, it is reasonably priced when compared to other models that are designed for top quality imaging. Keep in mind that it is neither small nor inexpensive, but when compared against its peers, it stacks up favorably.
I spent about $2,600 by the time I purchased the printer, the auto-duplexer, and 1 GB of aftermarket RAM to replace the 256 MB that is included with the printer. My initial experience was disappointing, as it initially printed painfully slowly when I sent two-sided photo brochure files to the printer across my office network. I called Konica Minolta twice that first dayonce to troubleshoot network setup of the printer, and the second time to find out if I was missing some setting to make it print faster than one brochure ever two minutes. Customer support suggested I needed more RAM or the optional hard drive, but this made little sense to me, since my four-pass Epson would print the same files at its maximum hardware speed with only 128MB of on-board RAM. So I ordered 1 GB of RAM, hoping to solve the problem. After spending hours of trial and error with different driver settings, I finally discovered that turning of Windows print spooling did the trick.
Windows spooling is turned on by default, so that print jobs get spooled in Windows and thereby off-loaded from the originating software application faster, so that the user can resume using the software more quickly. When I disabled Windows spooling, the software application prints directly to the printer, which can tie up the program for awhile before the print job gets delivered to the printer in its entirety. I was pleased to observe little or no difference in how long processing a print job tied up my program after making the change in settings. Once the prints started flying out of the printer, it cranked along right at its hardware engines maximum speed. So now I have 1 GB of RAM that I probably did not needbut that certainly isnt going to hurt. At the moment, the printer is setup on a 100 Mb/s node of my office network, but the device has a 1000 Mb/s capable network interface. Given the hefty RAM and the fast processor in this beast, it is quite possible that when I move the printer to my own 1000 Mb/s workgroup, the printing will start a bit faster, since the network speed may currently be the bottleneck.
The network setup problem was irritating, but easily fixed when the problem was identified. The printer, on its own LCD, indicated that its IP address was 𣻸.168.010.113. This is what I typed into the printer setup utility to find the printerto no avail. After installing, uninstalling, and reinstalling the driver many times, I called Konica. They walked me through the installation, just as I had done on my own. But the customer service representative indicated that the IP address should be entered without the leading ־ in the .010. part of the address. So with an address entered as 𣻸.168.10.113, it installed in a snap. I wasted a few hours, though, before solving what turned out to be a simple problem. I am not a professional computer geek, but I am a fairly good amateur computer geek, so I suspect I wont be the last to make that error. And the problem would have been eliminated if the printer would have displayed the IP address exactly as it should be entered into the installation utility.
My only other problem to date is that certain fonts in Adobe Acrobat print out blurred, while most text output looks laser perfect. I use many Acrobat forms in my real estate work, and one of my most frequently used documents, a residential sales contract, prints perfectly on every other printer I have used. But that form prints with the standard text looking blurry on the Konica Minolta 7450. I have finally determined that the issue is a font issue. I have not attempted to obain and download the font onto the printer's RAM, but a workaround is to check the Acrobat option to print fonts as images and/or not to use printer fonts. Doing so slows processing time, since far more data must transmit to--and be processed by--the printer.
Image output is very good. I would classify it as being comparable to that of my Epson printer. On one hand, it is mildly disappointing that a $2,500 printer does not beat the output of a model that now can be had for $500. But on the other hand, the image output from the Epson that I have been using is exceptionally good, so I dont suppose there was really much room for improvement in that regard. And the Konica Minolta gives me the added flexibility of a PostScript print driver and ICM capabilities. For text output, except for the Acrobat text quality issue I described above, I have found text output to be very goodflawless for any size and font that I have ever had occasion to print.
I have only printed a few hundred pages to date, so I cannot report on any long-term observations with regard to consumables or paper jams, except to say that I have had no problems thus far.
Since I plan to use the printer as the primary printing device for my computer and two or three others in my workgroup, I will probably pursue purchasing one or two additional paper trays in the future, so that I can have different trays dedicated for different print media. But even with only the one factory installed tray, the printer is more useful than many, since the manual feed/bypass tray can hold 50 or 60 sheets of paper that can sit there without interfering with the larger paper tray. I find this handy, since I generally print on plain paper, except when I am printing brochures on a two-sided glossy stock. I usually print brochures in batches of 25 to 100, so the manual feed/bypass tray can hold an entire brochure stack of paper without my having to touch the tray that I use for my plain paper.
Short of matching the output of a true photographic printer, I could not ask for much more from a workhorse color printer for use in an environment where color image output is important.
**Update as of 9/26/2007**
I have wasted probably close to $100 of toner and expensive paper, attempting to get the printer to print a four-page letter-sized document as a booklet on tabloid sized paper. The print driver supports this feature, but I have not been able to get it to work properly. I have tried every combinaton of settings, and I end up with a single page enlarged to fill a whole side of the taboid paper. I called Konica Minolta once today, and I was accidentally disconnected by the company. When I called back I had to hang up after being on hold for ten minutes and having to leave for an appointment. Given that this particular feature is critically important to me, I am disappointed that I have wasted considerable time and consumables trying to make this feature work.
**Update as of 9/30/2007**
Much of my trouble with formatting booklet style tabloid output was the result of poor support within different source programs. Word 2007 apparently has a known issue printing as a booklet, according to some extensive online research I did on the issue. Microsoft Publisher supports booklet printing, and the feature works fine. I have owned two other 11x17 capable printers (albeit much less expensive ink jets) in the past. Both cost about $500, and both made print options, including booklet printing, far easier, including flawless print previewing within the print driver software. So Konica Minolta could have executed this potentially thorny feature better, but good sofwate can sort it out. And once you learn the proper technique for the type of output you need, it presumably won't be a problem in the future.
I ended up purchasing Adobe InDesign this past week when I became frustrated and disgusted with various shortcomings in Microsoft Word and Microsoft Publisher. it was a huge investment, but it has given me my first glimpse of the power of a PostScript workflow in conjunction with a PostScript printer. Some of the very same graphic images that had notable flaws when prited as embedded TIFF or JPEG files from within Word or Publisher are now printing flawlessly from InDesign when the graphics are EPS vector graphics.
I can also pass along a helpful paper tip: While Konica Minolta indicates that any glossy stock is **not** compatible with auto-duplexing. However, I have purchased 250 sheets of HP Color Laser Presentation Paper, which is a two-sided glossy 32 lb. stock. I experimented with it in the Konica Minolta 7450. The output is actually virtually perfect when the printer is set to plain paper--better than when the printer is told that the paper is gloss. So long as the print driver and the printer are told that the paper is 11x17 plain paper, the driver can auto-duplex, and this particular HP Presentation Paper duplexes flawlessly!
I hosted an open house today at a property where my newly created and printed color tabloid booklet brochures were visible in a clear brochure box. One couple who attended said explicitly that the amazing brochure with its vivid photos got them to come in the door. That helps reassure me that such a costly purchase will hopefully pay some dividends before long.
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