Sharp MX-3100N

We take a look at a no compromise workgroup laser printer from Sharp.


A fully networked, departmental multifunction colour laser is a very useful thing. Sharp has sold a lot of them and its latest generation includes several innovations, which could simplify office printing, scanning and copying.

This substantial machine is available in two models, the MX-2600N and the MX-3100N, which are identical apart from their speeds: 26ppm and 31ppm, respectively. Both devices can take paper up to wide A3 in their 50-sheet Auto Document Feeders (ADFs), in their 100-sheet multi-purpose feeds and in the two, 500-sheet, universal paper trays that come as standard.

When you pull down the front panel, attractively finished in a textured light grey, you can see the machine comes from the photocopier design school, rather than the laser printer. The four toner cartridges and waste bottles slide in next to each other from the front and the drum and transfer belt are easily accessible from a slide-out panel on the right-hand end.

Sharp claims that 99 per cent of these printers are sold on lease contract, where service support and consumables are included in the deal, again more like photocopier sales, but the toners should last for 18,000 pages (black) and 15,000 pages (colours). Sharp, therefore, claims a cost per page of 0.5p for black and 5p for colour. These costs are good, but are difficult to compare with something like the HP LaserJet CM6030/6040, which on paper looks a lot cheaper. The HP price doesn't include a service contract or consumables, though.

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Walk-up functions include the ability to print xps, pdf, jpeg and tif files directly from a memory stick and to scan from flatbed or ADF to one, too. A job can also be sent to the printer's hard drive, encrypted if necessary, and printed only when you've typed in an access code at the device's touch-screen. Templates for letterheads and the like can also be stored on the internal hard drive to save storage and help encourage use of a house style.

The 8.5-inch touch-screen shows the main features of the machine's set up in full colour and, according to Sharp, this layout will eventually be common to all machine's in the new range learn one and you can use them all. It's very easy to use and the only physical buttons on the control panel are to start black and colour jobs, to cancel a job, to switch to sleep mode (the printers time out to sleep mode, automatically, too) and to dial fax numbers, if the fax option's installed.

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