Ricoh Aficio SP C411DN Workgroup Laser Printer Reviews
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Ricoh Aficio SP C411DN Workgroup Laser Printer

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Great low consumable cost color laser printer with the Ricoh SP C411DN

May 3, 2010 (Updated May 3, 2010)
Review by  
Rated a Very Helpful Review
  • User Rating: Excellent

  • Ease of Use:
  • Paper Handling:

Pros:Great printer/great low consumable costs! Output quality is excellent.

Cons:That darn bypass tray SHOULD BE AUTOMATICALLY SELECTED FIRST.

The Bottom Line: Great product & bargain for all it does and includes for even double the paid I paid for it.


I bought this printer after extensive research. I have always bought HP LaserJets until I bought my first Ricoh Color laser printer model CL3000 in March 2004. See my review of that here where this review will be very similar because they are similar in many ways:

www10.epinions.com/content_132308045444

OVERVIEW:
I have owned 4 laser printers now and have owned laser printers since 1988. I originally owned the LaserJet II. That lasted 7 years until it needed a new fuser roller, but I needed to print that day, so I bought the LaserJet 4+. The LJ4+ lasted 9 years. You can see why I WAS a fan of HP LaserJets. Recent HP models do not seem to be built as well as they once were when I owned them in the past and many reviews bare this out. I originally thought I would buy another HP Laserjet back then, until I looked at them in Staples. They didn't seem to be built like the tanks my prior HP models were, and the consumables (which will cost many times more than the actual printer over the life of the unit) were much higher than the Ricoh CL3000 I bought to replace the HP LJ4+. In fact, much higher at my estimates of more than 3-4 times higher on average for black and 2-3+ times higher for color.

So naturally, since I loved the Ricoh CL3000 so much, I started researching Ricohs again and also checked other brands like Minolta, HP, Samsung, Brother, Lexmark, & Dell to see if the competition started making low cost consumables a higher priority like Ricoh does.

The only reason I was buying another color laser printer is that it appeared there was a bad batch of black photo conducter units that didn't last anywhere near the 13,000 pages they were rated for on the CL3000 and I was in my busy season where I could easily use up one of those defective PCUs in one day or so and had to wait for another one to replace it under warranty. I just couldn't go even one day without my printer so I bit the bullet to replace it. Something like this could happen with any mfg so I didn't hold that against Ricoh since they would overnight out replacement units under warranty and were excellent in their handling of the issue.

The SP C411DN is also faster (31 pages-per-minute in full-color and B&W) than my CL3000 model (@50% faster on black & 55% faster with color) and surprisingly even lower consumable costs than the prior Ricoh CL3000 I own. They increased the lifecycle of the black & color photoconductor Units (PCU) from 13,000 pages to 50,000 pages with the SP C411DN at only a small increase in cost for the PCUs that have almost 4x the rated life. From my past experiences with Ricohs rated life of consumables they are very accurate. One example of a competing color laser manufactuer's printer cost more than 8 cents more to print just B&W pages so after 200,000 plages that would require spending $16,000.00 more for just the black consumables over the prior Ricoh CL3000 printer so no one should ignore consumable costs when comparing printers IMO. That is a LOT of additional cost to ignore otherwise. The great thing is they lowered costs further on the SP C411DN compared to the prior Ricoh models that already had excellent low cost color printers.

TOTAL COST OF OWNERSHIP:
Consumable costs are very low with this unit and are easy to replace in a matter of, at most, a couple of minutes. Here is how I calculate the costs for B&W & color costs per page using the high yield toner cartridges purchased online using the same method that proved very accurate on my prior Ricoh printer:

Black/white printing cost:
Black toner #888308 (15,000 yield)/$77.00 = 0.0052/page
Black Photo drum #402319 (50,000 yield)/$139.00 = 0.00278/page
Maint. Kit #402593 (Fusing Unit, Tranfer roller, Paper Feed Roller) (100,000 yield)/$174.00 = 0.00174/page
Transfer Unit #402323 (100,000 yield)/$120.00 = 0.0012/page

Total cost per page for black is = 0.01092/page (1.1 cents excluding power/paper cost with 5% coverage on 8.5x11 paper)

Try to find another color laser (or even a B&W printer that is even close in consumable cost on black output.

Color printing cost:
Cyan toner #888311 (15,000 yield)/$157.00 = 0.0105/page
Magenta toner #888310 (15,000 yield)/$157.00 = 0.0105/page
Yellow toner #888309 (15,000 yield)/$157.00 = 0.0105/page
TriColor Photo drum #402320 (50,000 yield)/$385.00 = 0.0077/page
Maint. Kit #402593 (Fusing Unit, Tranfer roller, Paper Feed Roller) (100,000 yield)/$174.00 = 0.00174/page
Transfer Unit #402323 (100,000 yield)/$120.00 = 0.0012/page

Total cost per page for color is = 0.04214/page (4.214 cents excluding power/paper cost with 5% coverage on 8.5x11 paper)

That is less than 4.5 cents per color page and is unheard of for color page consumables.

WARRANTY & SUPPORT:
Ricoh provides the standard one year parts/labor warranty with this printer, but it is an on-site warranty too! Another thing I really like about Ricoh customer service & tech support is that they do not ask for a credit card just to talk to them like HP tried to do with me when I owned their laser printers when the 1 year warranty expired. Ricoh support spoke to me extensively about my 6 years old CL3000 printer over the years when I had questions and never asked for a credit card to speak to them. You cannot beat that IMO.

MAINTENANCE:
There are slight benefits to the HP color laser printers though, but at a much higher overall consumables cost. For one, it has toner cartridges with the drum included, where the Ricoh color laser printers has separate drums (1 black and 1 tri-drum for the color) from the toner. This makes it slightly easier to maintain the HP. I should say that replacing the drum units is only about a 2 minute process and easily (IMO) worth it for the much better cost savings in consumables you get with the Ricoh models. Also you only have to replace the 50,000 page rated drum (printer tells you when) every 3.3 times you replace the 15,000 page toner cartridges. The toner alone takes about 5 seconds to replace through a lid/door on the top of the unit, which is faster than cycling through for each of the 4 HP toner cartridges. The LCD display tells you when the toner, etc is getting low, and even displays a bar graph by default showing the black and each of the 3 color toners so there are no surprises, and you can make sure you have replacement toner available. It also has a RED error light, so you don't forget you are running low. HP cartridges also seem to be available locally in my area much more than my Ricoh supplies, but Staples will ship usually by the next day in a pinch. I usually just buy from cheaper online retailers before I need them and with the LCD showing the graphs of how much of each color is left this is a non issue for me.

FEATURES:

The SP C411DN is a 31 page per minute for both B&W AND color duplex printing model which means you can print on both sides of a page automatically and it seems to be about twice as fast at duplexing than the other mfg that have this feature because of the way they handle duplexing. While the first page is coming out it goes back in automatically to print the other side while the second piece of paper with the 3rd page comes out and then automatically goes back in to print the 4th page on side 2. I read reviews that many other mfg actually duplex print much (sometime more than twice as slow) slower than just single sided printing. So if duplex printing is important to you the Ricoh is the printer to get IMO.

Another very nice feature of the Ricoh printers are that they have a paper cassette tray that holds 550 pages of paper so you can just drop a whole ream (500 sheets) of paper and have a little room to spare if there is still a few blank pages unused and want to print a big job without feed more paper in. These cassettes are also adjustable so you can use the same cassette for both standard letter size 8.5x11 and Legal size 8.5x14 without having to buy another ridiculously expensive second cassette for dual uses. It also handles smaller paper sizes with adjustments but I have never needed to try these, but do use letter and legal often so saving the approximately $300.00 cost of a separate legal cassette is yet another big cost saver for me.

CONNECTIVITY:
This model also has built in Duplex 10/100 Ethernet (network) capabilities so you only have to plug an Ethernet cable from your router to the printer and anyone on the network use the printer. It also has a USB 2.0 port for standalone plug & play use as well with Windows. Additional optional connections available are; IEEE 1284, IEEE 802.11a/g Wireless LAN, Bluetooth Wireless, Gigabit Ethernet.

USABILITY FEATURES:

The LCD displays a bar graph showing how much of the 4 toners have remaining. The Ricoh SP C411DN also has a great/extensive network administration interface so you can look at and change printer settings with your standard web browser without installing any admin software by simply typing the IP address assigned to the Ethernet port for the printer in your browser address box. It also provides a bar graph for ALL consumables including the PCUs, Intermediate transfer belt, etc. so if the router is also a Wi-Fi model you can do this with your laptop from any room within range of the WiFi router too! Of course by setting up the printer in the laptop you can also wirelessly print from anywhere in range as well.

EXPANDED COMPARISONS:
Because it is NOT a "Windows Host" based printer ("host" printers use your computer's CPU to do most of the work, like a winmodem does) it works with Windows (all versions including Windows Vista & Windows 7), Macs, Linux & Unix and Ricoh has drivers for all these OS too. Many printers are "host" printers so always check to make sure any printer you get has it's own CPU if you want the fastest printing without slowing down your computer while printing.

QUICK SPECS:
The Ricoh CL3000 has a fast 600 MHz CPU in it so it won't tie up your computer while it is printing like "host" based printers can. It comes with 256MB of ram, and I have never had anything that it couldn't print with the standard memory that it comes with. It has TRUE Postscript3 support, HP PCL5c/PCL6c emulation, and Ricoh's own RPCS printer languages built-in. It's highest output resolution is 1200 x 1200 DPI. The Ricoh SP C411DN has two standard ways to hook it up to your computer. They are USB 2.0 & Ethernet (for networking), but is missing the old/slow parallel port for very old computer compatibility that earlier models like my CL3000 had. It has one of the smallest footprints for such a heavy duty single pass color laser printer with the dimensions (WxDxH) 17.6" x 23.2" x 19.2". Also it is Energy Star compliant and only uses 6W when in power save mode. Plus it warms up in less than 30 seconds from a cold start (turned on), and only 10 seconds from power save mode for B/W & 15 seconds for color. This printer is built like a tank and weighs 110lbs, but I look at this as a very good thing from a reliability standpoint. It has a Duty Cycle of 150,000 pages per month, but remember that (with all printer manufactures) you should only rarely print more than 10% of the rated monthly Duty Cycle. I learned this from a HP tech and other mfg techs as well.

Negatives:
Ricoh needs to learn how to do a multi-purpose bypass tray like HP though. It should AUTOMATICALLY take the paper from the bypass tray FIRST if there is paper in there, before going to the standard paper cassette. I print checks via the bypass tray and it WAS a pain to remember to change the paper source when printing checks until I found a work around. I have solved the problem by creating multiple "versions" of the printer labeled with the paper defaults. One called Ricoh Bypass and the other just Ricoh and changed the default in the program settings for forms printing to use the bypass printer configuration so this is now seamless and not an issue. It also prints "face down" from the bypass tray for the shortest paper path which also speeds printing but means if I load multiple checks to print at once I have to re-sort the check sequence before putting them in the 100 sheet bypass tray.

THE BOTTOM LINE:
THIS is THE printer to get for all but full page photo printing, because inkjets still print the most "photo realistic" of all consumer printers, although the photos printed with this are pretty darn good unless you look real close. It is certainly excellent for business/school presentations, etc., and it actually so much cheaper (total cost) than an inkjet because of the amazingly low consumable costs. If you print a lot, then saving on consumables and/or fast duplex printing are important to you, then look no further than the Ricoh color laser printers which have the lowest consumable costs I have ever found.

EDIT:
Here is the combined brochure on the SP C410/411DN models:

http://www.ricoh-usa.com/products/brochures/ricohspc410dn.pdf
Note that the SP C410DN is different and only 26 PPM while the 411DN is 31 PPM. This brochure has the full specs for both models on the last page of the PDF.


Recommend this product? Yes


Amount Paid (US$): 599.00
Operating System: Windows and Macintosh


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