Ricoh Aficio C232SF review

Unusually poor print quality makes the Aficio C232SF one to avoid

10 Apr 2012
Our Rating 
2/5
Price when reviewed 
421
inc VAT

Specifications

single-pass colour laser, 20ppm print speed, USB, 10/100 Ethernet, 476x420x493mm

Ricoh’s Aficio C232SF feels surprisingly flimsy for such an expensive printer. It’s also noisy and it rattles when running. Its paper tray is awkward to fill too; if the poorly marked paper size slider isn’t positioned correctly it's all too easy for a wad of paper to become jammed against the rollers. This means you have to apply some serious brute force to free the tray because the Aficio C232SF doesn’t have a conveniently located flap or door to help you clear paper jams.

Ricoh Aficio C232SF

It’s also been around for a while, which means it doesn’t come with appropriate drivers for the latest operating systems. This means that if you're running Windows 7 you'll have to download drivers from Ricoh's website. The PCL6, PCL5x, PostScript3, network scanning and fax drivers were all easy to find, but they were ambiguously named and most didn't come with an installer, which meant we had to use Windows' options for adding printers to find the printer on our network and then manually point to the directory in which we'd unzipped the drivers.

Thankfully, the printer’s mono LCD screen and integrated control buttons are easy to use. The Copy buttons don’t work if you’re in the settings menu, but that’s a very minor niggle. Some settings aren’t immediately obvious, though. To fix the too-dark default copy quality, for example, we had to change the “density” setting; this is typically known as brightness on most MFPs. A HTML interface replicates all the features of the onboard menus and makes it easy to monitor the MFP’s status remotely. You can also use it to restrict access to some features, such as copying, faxing and scanning, to users that have an appropriate ID.

Ricoh Aficio C232SF

The Aficio C232SF’s scanner interface looks rather old-fashioned because of its dull, Windows XP-style buttons, but it works well enough, even though its default paper size is the US letter standard. There are few options available, but you can set the colour mode, resolution and the size of the scan area, and the interface helpfully retains your preview scans. The Aficio C232SF’s scans were accurately coloured, but slightly lacking in sharpness, particularly at lower resolutions.

We were particularly surprised to find that print quality is a weak point on this laser. 12-point mono text is as sharp and clear as you’d expect, but smaller font sizes are remarkably jagged, displaying broken lettering. Colour images also presented an odd shadow or halo effect around the edges, and that’s something that would come as a disappointment from a cheap inkjet, let alone an expensive laser. We noticed a similar issue with our photocopies. The C232SF is below par when it comes to colour print speeds, too. Mono prints emerge at a swift 16ppm, but colour is a sluggish 5.7ppm.

The Aficio C232SF is, to some extent, redeemed by its remarkably low running costs. A mono page costs 1.8p and a colour page is 9.3p thanks to cost effective high-yield toner cartridges. This also means that that its total cost of ownership is among the lowest we’ve seen from a laser MFP, particularly for medium to heavy users. However, none of this makes up for the poor print quality, flimsy paper tray and mediocre scans. If you’re spending this kind of money on a workgroup MFP, the Samsung CLX-6220FX is a much better buy.

Basic Specifications

Rating **
Maximum native print resolution 600x600dpi
Max optical resolution 1,200x1,200dpi
Output bit depth 24-bit

Quoted Speeds

Quoted speed, mono A4 20ppm
Quoted speed, colour A4 20ppm

Tested Print Speeds

Time for two 10x8in photos 1.0 1m 22s
Time for six 6x4in photos 1.0 1m 52s

Physical and Environmental

Standard printer interfaces USB, 10/100 Ethernet
Optional printer interfaces £160
Size 476x420x493mm
Weight 30.0kg

Paper Handling

Maximum paper size up to A4
Maximum paper weight 160gsm
Standard paper inputs 2
Standard paper input capacity 251
Maximum paper inputs 3
Maximum paper input capacity 751
Duplex (code, cost if option) No

General

Printer technology single-pass colour laser
Language(s) PCL 5c, PCL 6, PostScript 3 emulation
Supported operating systems Windows XP/Vista/7, Mac OS X 10.2.8+, UNIX
Maximum printer memory 512MB
Other laser features and options £148 each

Buying Information

Price £421
Price per colour A4 page 7.5p
Price of 2nd paper cassette 216
Warranty one year onsite
Supplier http://www.printerland.co.uk
Details www.ricoh.co.uk

Tested Scan Speeds

Full scan area preview 15s
A4 document at 150dpi 30s
A4 document at 300dpi 1m 23s
6x4in photo at 600dpi 1m 17s
6x4in photo at 1200dpi 1m 45s
Single 35mm negative at 2400dpi N/A

Tested Copy Speeds

Time for single A4 mono copy 1.0 26s
Time for single A4 colour copy 1.0 31s
Time for 10 A4 copies using feeder 2.0 1m 10s

Copy Features

Maximum number of copies 99
Copier zoom range 25-400%
Max mono copy resolution 600x600dpi
Max colour copy resolution 600x600dpi

Fax Features

Fax modem speed 33.6Kbit/s
Max mono fax resolution 200x200dpi
Fax memory (maximum mono pages) 100