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OKI MC342dnw review

Simon Handby
14 Jan 2015
Our Rating 
Price when reviewed 
350
inc VAT

The OKI MC342dw is expensive to run and doesn't produce particularly good prints, scans or copies

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There's no kind way to describe the way OKI's MC342dnw looks. It's not big, but its chunky proportions and grey plastic make it look like something from a previous decade - not necessarily the most recent one. The effect isn't helped by its mono display and chunky buttons, but its features tell a different story. There's duplex (double-sided) printing, and support for wired and wireless networks, mobile and Google Cloud Print; OKI's Mobile Print Android app only supports printing, however, not scanning.

Although the MC342dnw may not be pretty, it does feel like it's built to withstand abuse - OKI clearly thinks so, offering a three-year warranty as standard. The scanner lid and 50-sheet duplexing automatic document feeder (ADF) feel solidly made, even if there's no dust cover for the ADF. While you can raise the scanner bed on many MFPs, here you can tilt it upwards by fully 90°, leaving the printer top completely unobstructed. We've only seen this once or twice before and we're still not sure why it would be useful, but here it's been done well - there's an automatic lock to stop the lid flying open as you tilt the scanner back.

At the base of the printer there's a 250-sheet paper cassette with the correct paper orientation stamped in the bottom, where it's covered once you load any paper. This is one of very few laser devices we've tested recently with a straight paper path, uncovered by opening a hatch at the rear. Even so, we couldn't print envelopes without crumpling them. At the front is a 100-sheet multipurpose feed which, strangely, is held in place behind the flap which covers it by an additional blue catch. You're meant to clip the feed back into place manually after you've used it, but not doing so didn't seem to cause any problems, which made us wonder why the clip is there at all. We were similarly baffled by a hinged plastic flap, hanging down under the scanner bed, which didn't seem to cover anything or serve any purpose.

If some aspects left us scratching our heads, one had us muttering under our breath. We usually power-cycle printers several times during our tests, and each time we did so the MC342dnw leased a different IP address, even if it had only been off for seconds. Each time it did, we had to modify the port created by the installer before we could resume printing - we didn't have to do this with any of the 12 other printers tested on the same network at the same time.

When it came to scanning, the printer's IP address changes meant that the network TWAIN driver couldn't find it. OKI provides a Network configuration utility which we assumed would fix this problem, but it simply wouldn't run on our Windows 8.1 test PC. In the end, we could only scan using a USB connection. OKI's simple scan interface proved surprisingly good. Scans were quick, with a 300 dots per inch (dpi) A4 scan taking just 13s, and even a 1,200dpi scan of a 6x4 photo just 21s. The results were sharply focused, but colours were a touch drab, and detail was lost from among the darkest regions of the original.

This MFP's automatic document feeder makes an unpleasant plucking sound as it picks each sheet of paper, but it runs quickly, helping the MC342dnw copy 10 mono pages in just 41s, and 10 colour pages in 48s. Mono copies were very dark at the default setting although, oddly, colour pages were fine. Increasing the brightness by one stop made an unusually big difference, much improving the results, but the adjustment involves eight key presses and the setting reverts to its default once the MFP returns to standby. We found the USB direct printing menu similarly clunky, although it does let you select multiple documents for printing in a batch. The direct scanning menu is more straightforward.