Over the years I’ve seen dozens of printers that the makers say are perfect for schools, but they all fall short in one regard: they are generally no different from printers sold for a variety of other purposes. OKI Data’s C6050n is different in that it comes with a cool set of digital school supplies for creating classroom content and banners for the next fund raiser or blood drive. At $500, it should fit into the district budget as well.
Capable of pumping out 22 color or 26 monochrome pages a minutes, according to its maker, the C6050 has a duty cycle of up to 55,000 pages per month. This puts it in the sweet spot as a school- or department-wide printing resource.
It can connect directly via a USB cable or to a network and has the easiest set up routine I’ve seen for connecting to a school LAN. It took all of two minutes to install the software and connect to my network and the printer worked on the first try. It can use either a fixed or an automatically-assigned IP address.
The proof of any printer is in its output and the C6050n creates stunning 600- by 1,200-dot per inch prints in rich color with solid blacks, smooth gradients and sharp edges. The output is good enough for an art class’s digital photography projects and inexpensive enough for creating math worksheets. It comes with a main paper tray that holds a full ream and has a nifty paper level indicator on the outside so you’ll never run out of paper. It can sit on an optional second paper tray that costs $229.
I looked at and every day used the C6050n for a variety of jobs, from social studies presentations and science spreadsheets to overhead slides and card stock invitations and brochures. While other printers stop at letter or legal size paper, the C6050 can accommodate sheets that are up to 4-feet long, creating banners that are perfect for the classroom, gym or hallway.
It takes a little effort to get the printing specs correct but once it’s set up, the banner printing puts the C6050n in a class by itself. I was able to make banners with the ABCs for a classroom and of panoramic photos I took.
The printer can be ordered with the School Communications Pack, a CD that’s filled with templates for calendars, announcements and award certificates. The jewels are the customizable banners for everything from announcing an essay contest to a sporting event.
OKI Data goes against the grain with separate toner cartridges and imaging drums for putting its three colors and black toner onto paper. The C6050’s toner comes in separate cartridges that can be changed, although it can get a little messy. A word to the wise, have a vacuum cleaner ready.
A full set of toner cartridges costs $265 and is good for 4,000 pages of color and 5,000 pages of black and white prints. This adds up to a per page cost of about 6.6 cents, about 50 percent less than other color lasers, like HP’s Color LaserJet CP 2025. The separate imaging drums cost $82 each and have a lifetime of 20,000 pages. Overall, its per-page costs are slightly lower than other color laser printers.
While it takes as much as 30 seconds for the printer to warm up if it hasn’t been recently used, the C6050n is fast once it gets going. The first page is out in 11.4 seconds and it can produce 18.5 pages per minute. On the downside, the printer uses as much as 984 watts of power when it is printing, 30 percent more than other printers. Its sleep mode still uses 12 watts versus close to zero for competitors.
Over two months of daily printing with a wide variety of papers, it jammed once. On the downside, the C6050n is loud with a series of blunt noises as well as a shrill fan.
The C6050n comes with a 5-year warranty on the LED printing mechanism and 1 year of coverage on everything else. Buying a 3-year printer warranty with onsite service can double its price, however.
If you’re looking for a color printer that’s as reliable as it is inexpensive, look no further than the OKI Data C6050n. In other words, it is the school printer.
OKI Data C6050n
+ Easy LAN set up
+ Beautiful prints
+ Banner printing
+ CD full of educational items
- Uses a lot of power
- Messy toner changes
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