The FS-C5200DN is a well-built workgroup laser printer that's designed to stand up to years of use.
It was remarkably simple and quick to set up. The Windows installer scanned the network and immediately detected the printer. Installing the required drivers and printing our first test page took well under five minutes. The installation CD also contains PostScript Printer Description files (PPDs) that Mac and Linux users can add to their Common Unix Printing System (CUPS) configuration.
A mono LCD screen displays menu options but we recommend using the comprehensive web interface. Gaining command access to the interface was a challenge, though, as the default password (admin00) can only be found in a supplementary manual provided on the CD.
The web interface lets you set a host of security settings. You can lock or limit access to the printer's LCD menus, allow only designated IP addresses to print and enable encryption for all traffic sent to the printer. These features are valuable to a security-conscious business that deals with sensitive information. You can also set paper sizes for each tray, enable duplex printing by default to save paper and set the printer to print only in monochrome or the EcoPrint mode.
The EcoPrint setting uses less toner than normal, but produced much paler prints in which both text and images looked washed out. Text quality remained sharp, however, and this mode could benefit cost-conscious businesses that produce a lot of draft prints. There are also settings tailored to produce better prints on glossy laser paper, sharper reproduction of line drawings or more vivid colour reproduction. Monochrome mode prints everything in black and white for faster, cheaper prints. Mono print speeds were impressive at 19.5ppm, but we were rather disappointed by a colour speed of just 8.7ppm.
Standard mono text at the default quality setting was dark, sharp and solid but we were disappointed by the jagged edges we saw on 5pt and 6pt lettering. Mixed-colour documents looked good, with vivid colours and generally smooth shading, although dark green and blue tones didn't always blend smoothly into each other. Mono shading was also good, but the palest grey tones came out as white. Text and Photos mode printed our test photos with subtle shading and a surprising range of colour.
Page curling was nonexistent on mono prints and minimal on colour ones. You can print envelopes using the special media tray, but this caused some creasing. The driver's preview sometimes failed to display the correct envelope measurements we selected and then printed our text in an inordinately small size. An additional USB port allows the FS-C5200DN to print images and documents from a thumb drive, although due to a current firmware error the printer can see only 100 files and three levels of sub-directories.
Like most expensive workgroup printers, the FS-5200DN takes high-capacity toner cartridges, which will last for 7,000 black and 6,000 colour pages. This means a mono page costs just 0.9p, and a page of combined black and colour printing only 5.1p. This printer is designed to last, with a built-in drum that will produce 100,000 pages before it needs to be replaced. A new drum isn't cheap at £234 including VAT, but it's cheaper than buying a new workgroup printer. The total cost of ownership for medium use (18,000 mono and 9,000 colour pages over three years) is among the lowest we've seen at just £927 including VAT, although it's still more expensive than the Epson Aculaser C2800N's total cost of £729.