Ricoh Aficio GX 2500 review

13 May 2008

It's innovative but this inkjet-cum-laser is let down by inconsistency across the board.

Price when reviewed: 
114(£116 inc VAT)
3

Despite the fact that colour laser printers have fallen in price dramatically over the past few years, the cost of the technology itself has restricted them to a niche option for consumers, and even small offices.

Ricoh's gel-based ink technology is an attempt to bridge the gap between the inkjets and lasers by combining quality colour output, speed and reliability.

The Aficio GX 2500 approaches the affordable initial outlay of a quality inkjet at £99, and is capable of producing cheap, quick prints, like a laser.

Dubbed GelSprinter, it uses thicker ink than water-based inkjets, and it dries quickly, eliminating the need for drying time that some inkjets require between prints. The ink is waterproof and sunlight-resistant - so Ricoh claims - and more economical to run.

Despite these assertions, we weren't impressed at all with the GX 2500's print quality. In draft mode, documents were churned out with myriad flaws: text and graphics exhibited a slight blue hue, and letter alignment was appalling.

Quality improved at normal settings, although we're still not entirely convinced of the GX 2500's merits. Text was still wonky and, although the blue hue almost vanished, lettering wasn't as crisp and clear as we'd like. In fact, we were only happy with text printed at the highest quality settings, where the blue hue and inconsistent alignment issues disappeared.

Results were similarly varied in our colour tests. Draft mode produced pale, lifeless images, blotchy graphics and gradients entirely lacking in smoothly blended transitions. Photographs were particularly dire, with any detail and definition lost amid jagged edges and blurring.

Again, things did improve with normal settings. Colours were livelier, and graphs, charts and photographs began to look presentable. With the top quality options selected, we were impressed with the sharp, defined text, although gradients and areas of solid colour were still pretty poor.

Photographic prints on glossy paper were more impressive, with relatively high detail throughout and decent colours too. Overall, though, the output was no match for the stunning quality offered by top inkjets, such as the A-Listed Canon Pixma ip4500. And though photographic output is better than the cheapest of colour lasers, for text and document use it lags sorely behind.

In terms of pace, the GX 2500 again sits awkwardly somewhere between inkjets and lasers. Our draft mono document was churned out at 18ppm. This is perfectly adequate for a study or small office, the equal of cheap colour lasers such as the Brother HL-4040CN, and faster than most inkjets. But if you want decent quality you'll have to put up with much slower speeds: the GX 2500 printed our mono document in normal mode at a sluggish 8ppm.

Colour printouts were swifter, but again at top quality the GX 2500 still lags behind the best inkjets. Our A4 photo montage test appeared in 2mins 10secs - a full 38 seconds slower than the cheaper Canon ip4500.

In terms of running costs, things are more clear cut. Consumables are very reasonably priced, with mono reservoirs coming it at around £22 and each of the three colour cartridges - cyan, yellow and magenta - costing around £28.

Yields for these cartridges are low compared with most laser printers at 1,500 for the mono cartridge and 1,000 for each colour cartridge (at 5% coverage) and the start cartridges only last for 400 pages each, but this is offset by the fact that you don't need to replace image drums or transfer belts periodically as you do with lasers.

Details

Price ex VAT £99
Price inc VAT £114
Performance 2
Features & Design 3
Value for Money 5

Basic Specifications

Colour? yes
Resolution printer final 3600 x 1200dpi
Integrated TFT screen? yes
Rated/quoted print speed 28PPM
Maximum paper size A4
Duplex function no

Running costs

Cost per A4 mono page 1.5p
Cost per A4 colour page 2.8p
Inkjet technology Gel ink
Ink type Gel

Power and noise

Dimensions 416 x 440 x 249mm (WDH)

Performance tests

A4 photo print time 2min 10s
Mono print speed (measured) 18ppm

Media Handling

Input tray capacity 250 sheets
Output tray capacity 100 sheets

Connectivity

USB connection? yes
Ethernet connection? no
Bluetooth connection? no
WiFi connection? no
PictBridge port? no

Flash media

SD card reader no
Compact Flash reader no
Memory Stick reader no
xD-card reader no
USB flash drive support? no

OS Support

Operating system Windows Vista supported? yes
Operating system Windows XP supported? yes