Whether it’s for a school office, a classroom or a shared resource in a hallway, few printers can do more for less than OKI’s MC561 Color MFP. The $750 all-in-one printer may be a little pricey upfront, but it can replace a shelf full of devices, has low per-page costs and can print on both sides of paper. The bottom line is that it can save schools a lot of money in the long run.
Like most recent color laser printers, it’s a lot to move around and install, and will require two people to heft it into place. It takes up 17- by 20-inches of desk or table space, and it can easily fit into a bookshelf. You’ll need to leave 28-inches of space above so that the scanner cover can swing open.
Each element of the MC561 takes several steps forward, compared to the competition. Its printer and scanner can duplex, while its fax machine can send files over the Internet and be used while it is printing. The copier has an excellent sheet feeder that didn’t jam once in three months of heavy use and you can quickly scan a document to an Acrobat .pdf file on a memory key.
The print engine uses a one-pass approach, which speeds things up and reduces the chances of paper jams. It uses four separate color toner cartridges as well as separate drum and fuser, which cuts maintenance costs because you only have to replace what’s worn out.
It all adds up to one of the lowest per-page costs around. According to the Business Equipment Research and Test Lab (BERTL/www.bertyl.com), the MC561 costs 12.7 cents per page to print in color versus 13.6- and 13-cents for the competitive Xerox Phaser 6 and Samsung CLX 6250fx systems.
Its prints are quite good with well-formed type, good color balance and subtle shading. In fact, if you use the high resolution photo mode, the MC561 can do justice to artwork or student photos if printed on heavy stock.
You won’t have to wait for them. The MC561 pumps out its first print in 12.7 seconds and can produce 31.3 pages per minute (ppm). That speed drops to 10.5 ppm using the printer’s paper-saving duplexing feature.
Like other OKI systems, the MC561 can use a wide variety of papers and even print banners that are perfect for decorating a classroom, hallway or pep rally. Oddly, its built-in paper tray doesn’t hold a full ream of paper, which will be awkward in a classroom that doesn’t have a place to store extra paper. There is a high volume paper tray that adds room for a full ream and costs $250.
As far as scanning goes, the MC561 is a mixed bag. It creates sharp and vivid digital files out of 8- by 10-inch photos in 36.7 seconds at 300dpi or 2 minutes and 9 seconds in 1,200 dpi resolution, but it requires setting the MC561 to scan mode. Other MFPs change to scanning mode automatically. On the other hand, the system can put a scan into an email or place it on a network folder when done.
There’s a prominent series of buttons on the left for deciding what you want the MFP to do. The system’s status is displayed on the adjacent 3.5-inch hinged screen. It has a full keyboard for entering names and numbers without having to deal with the keypad interface.
Completing some tasks is a little convoluted, however. The MC561 can hold 16 fax numbers, but it takes six separate steps to send a fax if the number hasn’t been saved.
The fax/copier’s hopper can hold 50 pages and it never jammed during three months of daily use. Best of all, it can scan both sides of the sheet.
For schools that have a polyglot of systems, the MC561 will fit right in with drivers for Windows, Mac and Linux computers. The system includes copies of Nuance’s PaperPort document management, color matching as well as ScanSoft optical character recognition software.
The best part is the excellent Admin Manager program for keeping an eye the printer remotely. On top of details like its IP address, the software shows its toner level as well as the status of the belt, fuser and drums. It even shows how many pages have been printed or scanned, a great way to charge departments for their use.
Like so many other recent printers, the MC561 can connect via a USB 2.0 or Ethernet networking cable. It doesn’t have WiFi built-in, though.
The MC561 uses 280 watts of power when printing and 20 watts at idle. Unlike other MFPs, the MC561 doesn’t sound like a 747 taking off or dim the lights when you’re using it, making it a great choice for older buildings.
While the MC561 comes with a 5-year warranty on its print engine, the rest of the machine is covered with a 1 year warranty and includes overnight replacement so that you won’t miss a print. At $750, the MC561 squeezes in a lot of MFP for the money and costs $150 less than Xerox’s Phaser 6. The best part is that it costs less to run, so it will keep paying off for years to come.
OKI MC561 Color MFP
+ Can print and fax at once
+ Fold-out keyboard
+ Duplex printing and scanning
+ Fast printing
+ Low per-page costs
+ 5 year warranty on print head
- No WiFi
- Need to set up system prior to scanning
- Small primary paper tray