After my negative last printer review, Ive decided to review another of our collection. The Kyocera FS 680 is my personal favourite. Which is a strange thing to admit under the circumstances!! About a year ago while in the process of finding new printers my boss suggested this one, to which I recalled what the hell is the point in buying it
We need A3 minimum and definitely something capable of printing colour. My boss inevitably ignored my comments and headed straight out to purchase this.
Incredibly this printer has since become a god send. Although only able to print A4 and black and white, this printer consistently chugs away day after day without a glitch. Before I launch into a buy now buy now speech Ill tell you the features of the printer and let you decide!
This printer as with most is compatible with PC or Mac. Disks are included with the printer for installation. Of course if you do have XP you will not require any installation disks. It can also easily be networked, just pick the computer you want to attach it to and then access the printer from any other as with any equipment that has sharing capabilities.
As this printer has now been within Kyoceras range for a few years it is possible to pick up second hand printers for approx £40 upwards. To buy it new, again as it has since been out ranked by faster higher performing printers the price has dropped considerably. To give you an idea, we paid £250 for it new, now its price varies between £90 and £120 for the same printer!
I think this printer comes in a pretty neat little package, in fact it is only about 10cm in circumference more than the size of an A4 sheet. Very important for anyone who works like I do with machines surrounding us and desk space at a high premium Approximately 300mm wide x 340mm. The other really useful thing about this printer is the ventilation for printer is located at the side rather than at the back, which means you can store the printer against a wall, rather than requiring a gap to let air in and out as many other printer of this type require.
The printer is slightly bulky in regards to the height of the printer. As it has a deep tray for loading paper under the printer its height measures approx 340mm, so it really is a boxy printer. Baring in mind you need further space above to get the print outs off, its a difficult height to store under shelving, especially on standard computer desks.
The other point worth noting in regards to the printers appearance is the colour. that as it began manufacture prior to the trend to produce computers and equipment in a colour other than buff, it is that rather drab buff colour. For me thats fine, as everything we have is pretty much old school and the same colour, but for those of you who have started buying the more attractive grey, black or transparent computer equipment then be warned this will stand out like a sore thumb! Kyocera have still not broken into the colour revolution that is happening in computers at the moment, so whichever model you can choose any colour casing As long as its buff!!!
A4 only Im afraid, but for the majority of offices and home environments Im sure A4 more than suffices.
Loading the Paper:
I find this to be very straight forward. Paper feed tray is via a tray located at the base of the unit. To open the tray there is a moulded ergonomic handle which is easily pulled open. The tray then opens out infront of the printer and holds approximately 60-70 sheets of 80gsm paper. The printer feeds the paper from the back of the tray up and around the rollers, so if you are printing on coated paper of any description or something double sided then the side you wish to print upon needs to be laid face down. The paper loader never fails, a definite plus point of the printer! Only time it seems to stop printing in fact is when the drawer is empty!!!
I give the printer top marks in this department. It is more than capable of running huge print jobs of 200 plus sheets without any failure. The speed of printing a sheet varies according to how much information is contained on the sheet. For a sheet of just text, I estimate it can print 30-40 a minute. However if the sheet has images or complex text this rate slows right down to 6 or 7 a minute. So probably that averages out to 10 or so a minute. The manual states that its rate is 8 pages per minute, but this is definitely an under estimate.
The printer has its own in built RAM, which can be changed or increased if you did wish to increase its printing speed then its a worthy investment. Approximately £40 will increase its printing speed significantly.
The quality of the print is reliably stable. We have never had any streaking or blurring of any image or text, and this printer is heavily used. It prints at 600dpi, and doesnt have options to increase the dpi unlike an ink jet. I had an experiment with this, as I was sure that this printer was out performing one of our Epson inkjets on quality. I set the inkjet to print at 1440dpi and sent a page to print to the Kyocera and loaded the same paper into both. When I compared the two print outs, there really was no difference and I would even say the laser beat the inkjet on consistency.
We now split the printing of our reports so that anything with black ink only is printed by the Kyocera, while anything colour is printed to our inkjet. No-one has ever noticed the difference in quality page to page, so I think 600dpi maximum offered on this printer is more than sufficient.
As many of you will know, one huge advantage laser printers have over ink jet is not only the speed at which they can print but also their running costs. Ive found the toner to be generally very economically priced. One toner cartridge is approximately £30 ex VAT, but many suppliers operate deals where if you buy in bulk the cartridges are available at a much cheaper rate. Each cartridge prints approx 5000 pages, so its printing costs are far lower than that of any inkjet, regardless of what compatible cartridge you find!
The other replacement cost that may occur over time is replacement of the drum. The price of a replacement drum is generally about £90-£100, which sounds a lot but as it has an average life span of 150,000-200,000 pages it has a cost of 0.0006p per sheet. So when you put it in perspective, it really isnt going to break the bank, especially when considering the money saved on toner cartridge prices.
The other thing I would like to mention under this point is that where as ink jets require their heads cleaning over and over again to prevent clogging. Lasers seem to never clog. Probably due to the fact that the printing is a dry process rather than wet as in lasers. But imagine how many times you clean the heads of your printer and how much time and money is wasted doing that.
All I can say is this printer goes on and on and on, never failing. Maybe we hit lucky and this model is the best on the production line. But personally I find all laser printers superior in reliability to their inkjet cousins. Working on a similar technology to photocopies lasers just seem to be able to cope with larger numbers of prints. In the time that we have owned this printer, absolutely nothing has faltered or failed. I personally think that is remarkable for a piece of equipment which is used day in day out.
So to sum up, this printer is definitely on my highly recommended list!