Canon LaserShot LBP5000
The LaserShot LBP5000 is the latest entry-level colour laser printer from Canon.
The absence of a Mac-compatible Canon laser printer at this end of the market has been a chink in the company's armour. It's on the road to addressing this imbalance, however, with the attractively designed and priced LBP5000. Available online in the region of £200, this is a very low-priced machine. To some extent, this is reflected in the specification, but it's still fair considering the price point.
The LBP5000 connects to your Mac via USB 2, and while there's a network option available, it costs a hefty £150. The paper tray holds 250 sheets of A4 and there's a manual feeder for envelopes along with a remaining-paper indicator. Again, this is upgradable with an optional lower tray offering a further 250-sheet capacity. The output tray is on top of the printer with a hinged dust-cover to protect the machine when it's not in use.
The printer is fairly compact and attravailable, and will sit well in a small office or home environment. A sequence of lights on top of the machine indicate the current status, although there are no on printer buttons or LCD display, so all machine operation is done through the software driver. You access the toner cartridges by lowering the hinged front panel of the printer. Although installing consumables in a printer is rarely difficult if you've read the instruction manual, Canon has managed to make it that little bit easier. Each colour is simple to replace with no confusing tabs or levers to operate: the units simply slide out in one piece and lock in securely on insertion. Capacity is rated at 2500 A4 sheets for the black toner and 2000 for the cyan, magenta and yellow, but Canon claims there's a toner-saving mode to increase these figures significantly.
The LBP5000 performed well in our tests. While it didn't win any prizes in the speed stakes, it certainly didn't embarrass itself. A single page of text was delivered in 14 seconds, which is more than adequate. Just two seconds under two minutes for 10 sheets of A4 was a little steady, but not criminal. Text quality was impressive, with a solid black shade to each character down to 9pt text. Text was crisp and well defined with no jagged edges visible to the naked eye.
Our InDesign spread was impressively handled, taking 26 seconds from paper take-up to output tray. The mixture of colour and greyscale images and some white and grey text on a black background proved to be a little awkward for this device, though, as it failed to produce a definite grey on black and some of the white text over solid black was spoiled by toner spilling into the white areas. The images were fine with good greyscale reproduction, although the colour picture was a little understated and lacked punch.
We tested the photo-printing quality of the LaserShot LBP5000 with a couple of tricky images that would stretch its ability to accurately reproduce solid colour and skin tones. The colour test result was good, but colours weren't as bright and solid as we'd have liked, with the final print being a little cold. The portrait we used showed excellent detail, and skin tone was a healthy shade.
The LaserShot LBP5000 is a great starting point for an entry-level colour laser. We'd have like to have seen the networking card included in the price, as other manufacturers manage to include one in their low-end machines, and a bit of a speed boost wouldn't go amiss, although it's by no means a slouch. Our only real complaint is the lack of punch in colour images. In all, if you're looking for a stylish machine that's easy to maintain and will churn out decent-quality results, then the Canon should certainly be on your list of possibilities.