Oki C542dn review

This laser printer is a fast performer that produces quality results

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Our Verdict

For rapid duplex printing in colour, this high-capacity laser model with its 7-inch touchscreen is ideal for a growing business where security and upgradability are key factors.

For

  • Tank-like build quality
  • Very fast and quiet duplex printing
  • Razor sharp colour printing
  • Very useful large 7-inch touchscreen

Against

  • Overly bright buttons and display
  • No Wi-Fi (module is optional)
  • No memory card slots
  • Expensive initial cost

Retailing at £347 (around $450, AU$600), Oki’s C542dn may seem rather expensive for an office printer with no scanner or fax attached – and indeed it may look rather large considering that, too – but that’s because it’s built to excel at one task: printing. This it can do at speed with few pauses thanks to its deep 200-sheet paper tray (expandable to 350 sheets) and large toner cartridges that can supposedly yield up to 7,000 pages.

Even the colour touchscreen is generous in size at 7-inches. That’s important because it’s through this that you access the controls and additional apps that run on Oki’s smart extendable platform (sXP).

If capacity is one advantage of the C542dn, then upgradability is another. The firmware can be updated easily as new third-party apps compatible with the open Oki architecture come along. You can also add a Wi-Fi module, another paper drawer, or a cabinet stand.

Design and build

The surprising bulk of the C542dn makes it look like a museum piece from the 1980s, but it’s actually one of the most sophisticated printers we have tested. The tilting 7-inch touchscreen is the interface for an open platform that allows more printers to be linked together and for apps like PaperCut MF to run.

Although it looks large enough to take A3 paper, the maximum size here is A4, but you can fit quite a lot of it in the deep drawer. Above that is a hatch for feeding specialist paper in odd sizes.

But it’s not until you lift the lid of the C542dn that you see how all the space is being used. The cavernous cavity is taken up not by moving printer heads – in fact there are relatively few moving parts with this LED laser system – but very large toner cartridges. The four supplied refills are actually the lowest in ink capacity at 2,000 pages as you can buy replacements capable of printing 7,000 pages.

Spec Sheet

Here are the full specs of the Oki C542dn:

Type: Colour laser printer  

Functions: Printing

Ink: 4 toner cartridges (C, M, Y, K)

Connectivity: Ethernet, USB, Wi-Fi (optional)

Data storage slot: USB port 

Print speed: 30 ppm in mono and colour

Main paper tray capacity: 200 sheets 

Print quality: 1,200 x 1,200 dpi

Scan quality: N/A 

Apple AirPrint: Yes

Google Cloud Print: Yes

App support: Yes (iOS/Android)  

Consumables included: 4 toner cartridges (2,000-page capacity) 

Size/Weight: 148 x 479 x 356mm (H x W x D); 8.7kg

Features

Despite the bulk and the fairly high cost, this is a printer only, so as we already mentioned there’s no scanner or fax, and the paper size is limited to A4. It’s also missing a few features you would expect to see on a consumer-oriented model at this price point. There’s no integrated Wi-Fi, so you’ll need the optional module, for example, and no NFC either, or memory card slots. 

What you do get are the features essential for business use, such as duplex printing, a gigabit Ethernet connection, 1GB of internal RAM for handling large document files and a Quiet Mode to avoid disrupting your co-workers.

The most significant feature of the C542dn is its conspicuous and customisable 7-inch touchscreen. It offers up the main functions and settings menu in a very accessible way, but it’s also the interface for any third-party software, such as Drive Image, that you might want to add. 

Oki’s platform also allows for Pull Printing, where you can walk over to the printer and pull down the job you sent from your computer. It’s an advantage for large offices and work-share situations where unclaimed printouts are a real problem. It can also use its memory to support Shared Print, so that anyone can print copies of the document you sent to the printer.

Setup and operation

With no wireless module attached to our C542dn (as mentioned, this is optional), getting this printer up and running took no time at all. In fact the tricky bit was getting it out of the box as this beast is a two-person lift. Connections for the gigabit Ethernet cable and square USB plug are behind a flap at the rear, and there’s another USB port for thumb drives at the front.

The large touchscreen lifts manually to show an especially bright Windows-style interface. From here, if you select Print you can then choose between printing from a computer, USB drive, AirPrint or Google Cloud Print. You can also use the onscreen menu to set the paper type and other settings. The touchscreen is quite intuitive and quick to react making the C542dn a fairly easy machine to use.

Performance

The C542dn can crank out pages at the impressive rate of 30 per minute, and it’s the same for mono or colour pages. The first two pages of black text on plain paper showed varying light and dark lines, but it then settled down to achieve the kind of crisp consistency you can expect from an expensive laser printer. Characters appear clean and contained with no smearing at all. 

Pages that include colourful graphics also arrive in the C542dn’s deep document tray with astonishing speed and in sharp focus. There are only three colour cartridges inside and you tend to get vivid primary colours, but not such accurate colour mixing. For this reason photos tend to look a bit cartoonish. And when you use photo paper, it tends to get curled by the internal rollers – so generally this isn’t recommended.