Ricoh Aficio SP C250SF review
A serious laser capable of producing stunning prints and scans - but it's neither good value nor user-friendly
Like Lexmark's CX310dn, the Ricoh SP C250SF is a business-grade printer that's priced within reach of a personal office or small workgroup. The imposing exterior makes no concessions to "lifestyle design", and the feature list is squarely professional, including a 250-sheet paper cassette and full duplex printing.
On paper, print speeds are merely respectable: our 20-page mono document was produced in 1min 40secs, for an average of 12ppm, while colour came out at 10ppm. Those numbers don't tell the whole story, though: by default the Ricoh drops into power-saving mode after just 60 seconds of inactivity, so print times normally include a 20-second wait for the unit to warm up. From warm, mono pages come out at a more impressive 17ppm.
Frustratingly, a similar delay applies to scanning: after you walk up and press the button, you're left standing around for 20 seconds until the Ricoh is ready to respond. Even once it's awake the scanner is slow: it took 53 seconds to scan a 200ppi greyscale image for us, and more than three minutes for a 300ppi A4 page.
The good news is that output quality is excellent. We simply couldn't fault the quality of text or business graphics, and the SP C250SF even had a good go at reproducing colour photos. On regular 80gsm office paper, it produced results richer and cleaner than you've any right to expect from a laser. Meanwhile, scanned images have a very pleasing appearance, coming out balanced and clear, without conspicuous speckles or sharpening.
Overall, though, we didn't enjoy testing the SP C250SF. Leaving aside the constant warm-up delays, we found the user interface frustratingly obscure: more than once we found ourselves unsure which button to press to access the function we wanted. Advanced configuration, such as setting up scan destinations, is done via the printer's web interface, which is easier to navigate, but still clunky and unclear.
A final weakness is expensive consumables. The initial purchase price is one thing - after all, you get a lot of printer for your money - but 3p per mono page and 15.4p per colour are way too high. Despite its great print quality, the C250SF simply has too many weak points, relative to its rivals, to recommend.
This review originally appeared in PC Pro issue 262
Excellent output quality isn't enough to redeem this printer's indecipherable interface, expensive running costs and constant warm-up delays.
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