Multifunction color laser-class printers

When only no-nonsense, laser-class color prints will do

About Tech > Printers/Scanners has reviewed several laser-class printers recently, covering everything from entry-level, single-function monochrome models up to high-volume multifunction color machines—so many in fact that you might be having trouble finding the ones that suit your needs. Hence, this round-up is the first in a series of laser-class-printer match-ups. I’ll start with laser-class color MFPs, move on to monochrome MFPs, then single-function color machines, and finally single-function black-and-white laser-class printers.

First, if you’re wondering why I keep referring to these devices as “laser-class,” well the reason is simple—many of the laser-like machines on the market today use an array of light-emitting diodes (LEDs) to perform essentially the same functions as scanning lasers. The benefit for manufacturers is that LED arrays are smaller, have fewer moving parts, and they cost less. For end users, LED printers use less power.

That said, I should also point out that the MFPs below are listed roughly, in terms of quality, in descending order, with the “best” machines toward the top of the list. Keep in mind, though, that to have made this list, it needed to have impressed me somewhere along the line in the first place.

Dell's entry-level E525w multifunction laser printer.
Dell's E525w Multifunction Color Laser Printer. Dell

To have made this list, the MFP had to print well in the first place, and, while some of Dell’s printers, including this one, physically appear more than a little long in the tooth, this is one rugged machine. It’s not as modern-looking as the HP model included in this round-up, but when it comes to speed and print quality, it’s at least as capable as the other machines in this group.

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OKI MC362w. OKI Data

Here, OKI Data bumps up not only the purchase price, to $500 to $600, but also the volume rating. While the MC362 is a little boxy and low-tech looking, that’s not unusual for OKI; the company doesn’t seem to care a lot for fashion. In fact, compared to some of the more stylish models from HP and Canon, appearance-wise, this OKI can seem downright archaic (in printer terms, of course). As with most laser-class printers, as long as you don’t’ expect too much when printing photos, this is a decent MFP overall.

HP's Color LaserJet Pro M277dw Multifunction Printer
Fast, good-looking prints and scans. HP

Not only is HP’s M277dw sleek and attractive-looking, but it also sports a new type of toner the company calls ColorSphere 3, which is part of an overall toner-cartridge and print-engine overhaul that melts toner sooner, at a lower temperature, thereby churning out pages faster. This is all part of HP’s “JetIntelligence” face-lift designed to use up to 53 percent less energy and allow for a 40 percent smaller printer. And, of course, like most of today’s consumer-grade printers, the M277dw comes with a colorful touch screen for performing all sorts of walk-up, or PC-free task, such as printing from and scanning to various cloud sites.

OKI Data MC562w Color Multifunction Printer
OKI Data's MC562w Color Multifunction Printer. OKI

The MC362w Color MFP mentioned above is OKI Data’s MC562w’s smaller sibling. Everything about it is, well, big—right down to its 50-page automatic document feeder (ADF) and expandable 350-sheet input source. In fact, you can add an additional 550-sheet drawer for about $200, for an overall total of 880 pages. Of all of these laser-class multifunction printers in this round-up, this one is the most expensive and robust in terms of features and volume capacity. The good news is that for the most part this is an excellent high-volume printer designed to kick out thousands of laser-quality pages each month—and it’s easily capable of that.