Oki B4545 MFP review

14 Mar 2007

A feature-packed printer that's easy to use, but let down by poor performance and below-average print quality.

Price when reviewed: 
457exc VAT
3

Oki's colour lasers have always impressed us with their fine combination of value and quality, and now we turn our attention to its latest multifunction mono lasers. The family comprises five models, with the top-of-the-range B4545 MFP aimed at small-to-medium workgroups.

The printer combines a simple 600dpi laser printer with a colour flatbed scanner and 33.6Kb/sec fax. The USB port at the front is a handy feature, as you can insert a storage device and scan documents directly to it as well as print from it. The printer automatically scans a device on insertion and offers menu options for selecting a file to print or scanning a document to file. For the latter, you can select mono or colour scans and choose from PDF or JPEG file output. Scan options get even better, as you can copy documents to a PC over a local USB connection, to an FTP server, a shared directory, directly as an email or to a networked PC. For the last option, you register a suitable name for the PC when you install the bundled Companion Suite software and it will appear in the printer's LCD panel as an option.

The scan functions worked well during testing, and the full QWERTY keypad on the printer makes light work of naming scanned files or sending emails and SMS messages. Usefully, the printer can also receive SMS messages and print them out on reception. For scanning, don't try inserting heavyweight media, as it will simply jam due to the tortuous paper path used by the automatic document feeder. Output quality isn't great either, with colour scans to PDF showing poor detail.

Oki offers 6,000- and 12,000-page toner cartridges, but you don't gain much by going for the latter, as it only reduces the cost of the printed page from 1.7p to 1.6p. The print engine is rated at 20ppm, but we found this was only achievable using a local USB connection. A 20-page basic Word document was whisked through in a tidy 1min 1sec, with a time to first page of around 10 seconds. When printed over the network, the same document took 1min 40secs for an average of only 12ppm. Our heavily formatted DTP-style document caused problems for both interfaces, with a USB connection returning a sluggish 7ppm, while the network print server lagged even further behind at only 5ppm. Paper handling was a cause for concern as well, with the input bin pickup mechanism occasionally grabbing a handful of pages.

The B4545 doesn't disappoint for text print quality, with all our test fonts looking crisp and clean. Reports using graphs and bar charts were acceptable with only minimal banding evident, but photographs suffered from a lack of detail and clearly discernable banding in large areas of single colour. In general, we'd have expected better quality for a printer at this price.

With the B4545 MFP, Oki is offering a comprehensive multifunction printer with a heap of smart features ideally suited to small offices. The printer control panel and bundled software make them all accessible, but we weren't impressed by the poor print quality, slow network print speeds and erratic paper handling.