Oki Data's C5300n represents the new level for LEDs

The C5300n color printer from Oki Data Americas Inc. is a new series of printer rolled out in January that the company claims can achieve unprecedented performance for a system built on a single-pass LED engine.

Oki Data also cites speed advantages and longer duty cycles'50,000 maximum pages per month'over other vendors' comparable printers and monochrome page costs approaching those of color, a milestone for the category.

But my tests showed that if the speed is better, it's a relative thing: My unit proved to be frustratingly slow when printing long color documents.

The C5300n, inexpensive at $1,299, is a bargain for low-volume workgroups, with a 400-sheet input capacity'930 if you add the optional second tray. It comes with Ethernet circuitry and Oki Data network and Web server technology, which are not always included at this price.

Not so fast

The company literature claims decent speeds of 12 pages per minute for color and 20 ppm for monochrome. As is usually the case with vendor claims, I got much slower results'more like one-fifth the speed'when testing the C5300n on my slowpoke Celeron home PC connected directly via 10/100-Kbps Ethernet cable.

A 32-page GCN Lab document with a mix of color photos, graphics and text, some overlaid on each other, took 14 minutes to print out.

But more typical daily jobs neared par. First-page-out times, in fact, were better than claimed, at 16 seconds for color and seven seconds for monochrome. Color photos appeared to have true colors and consistent inking, but be forewarned that, like all lasers and LEDs, the C5300n might disappoint people inured to ink-jets. Laser photos have a slightly dull, washed-out quality to them.

I found the C5300n easy to set up and network. Toner cartridge installation took just a few minutes, and network software went up virtually without a hitch. I'm puzzled why the manual said I could enter a personal identification number from the control software, when the unit's front panel had no PIN option.

But otherwise the C5300n worked as advertised. It would be a fine addition for agencies seeking to equip small workgroups and offices with affordable color printers.

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