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Canon i-Sensys LBP5050n review


Canon's space-saving desktop colour laser delivers quality for both mono and colour prints that belies its low price

Review Date: 16 Mar 2009

Reviewed By: Dave Mitchell

Price when reviewed: £163 (£187 inc VAT)

Buy it now for: £529
(see more store prices)

Overall Rating
5 stars out of 6

Features & Design
4 stars out of 6

Value for Money
5 stars out of 6

5 stars out of 6

Aimed at small businesses with a modest requirement for colour printing, Canon's latest desktop laser looks to hit the spot for value, with the i-Sensys LBP5050n network model coming in at a shade over £150. Canon also offers a base LBP5050 USB-only model that saves you less than £25, making this network version far better value.

With quoted print speeds of only 8ppm for colour and 12ppm for mono, it's no speed demon but it's a good choice for those that value peace and quiet, with noise levels quoted at a maximum of only 48dBA. The cartridges are easily accessible from a drawer that slides out from the front and these are the all-in-one variety that include the toner, drum and cleaning unit.

As with most low-cost colour lasers you pay a premium on running costs. The black cartridge lasts for 2,300 pages while the colour cartridge is good for 1,500 pages, which equates to nearly 9p for a colour page and 1.7p for a mono page. Like other printer vendors, Canon engages in the dubious practice of shipping the printer with starter cartridges only good for 800 pages each.

The printer has a single 150-sheet paper tray with no options to increase capacity. A single-sheet multi-purpose slot is located above the main tray and the front panel offers a basic set of LED indicators, showing printer activity, paper status and warnings for cartridge toner levels. There's also a button for cancelling the current print job.

The LBP5050n delivered on its speed promises, completing a 12-page Word document in 60 seconds. It also proved up to the challenge of our 24-page DTP style document with colour charts, graphics and photographs, printing it in just over three minutes. The driver offers a choice of quality settings with Design, Presentation and Photo, none of which affected print speeds.

The LBP5050n impressed with its output quality. Text was clean and sharp at all usable font sizes and photographs showed plenty of detail, suffering only from very slight banding in areas of a single colour. It handled the PC Pro colour performance chart well, with transitions across complex fades showing virtually no banding, whilst grey shades using equal mixes of C, Y and M toner were reproduced faithfully.

We did, however, find a minor issue that appears to afflict Canon's printer drivers. With the driver set to General, Photo or Presentation, the solid blocks of colour in our test print suffered from a hint of grey. Use the Design setting and the colour springs back to life.

Small offices with the occasional urge for colour printing will find the LBP5050n a worthy candidate. It's short on features - but quality is good, print speeds are on the money and running costs are on par with the competition.

Author: Dave Mitchell

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