Colour laser printers have recently become much more affordable. Yet compared with inkjets and mono lasers, they're typically bulky, heavy and noisy. Konica Minolta's brand new magicolor 2480 MF is certainly a sizeable beast but has more than a little something on the side, or at least on the top.
Extras include a 600dpi flatbed scanner, complete with automatic document feeder, which can funnel up to 50 pages at a time through the mill for automatic, standalone mono or colour photocopying. You also get fax functionality, although connection to the outside world has to be via your PC because there's no built-in phone line socket.
Print speeds are impressive, with up to 20ppm mono and 5ppm colour print performance, for either straightforward printing or A4 photocopying. In our tests, 'first page' prints took around ten seconds for mono and 20 seconds for colour, and a single full A4 colour photocopy took 50 seconds - good all round.
The 2480 MF is quick and easy to install. The whole machine has a high-quality feel to it, with the exception of the paper input tray, which seems a little basic by comparison.
On the plus side, the input tray can take up to 250 sheets of standard paper and if you're in the mood to add to the printer's already considerable height, there's the option of a second, 500-sheet tray which costs an extra £160. For a further £160, you can also buy an optional automatic duplex unit for simplifying double-sided printing.
The supporting software for printing and scanning is intuitive, as are the onboard copying controls. There's a range of options for adjusting the quantity, quality, size and zoom factor of photocopies, all of which are refreshingly obvious and easy to use.
For the lowest running costs, it pays to invest in high yield toner cartridges. Unlike the 1,500 page cyan, magenta and yellow cartridges that come with the printer, these enable around 4,500 pages of colour printing and cost around £100 each.
The standard mono cartridge is also good for 4,500 pages, at £60, so page costs work out to about 1.3p for mono and 6.7p for colour, which is good for a printer of this purchase price.
Pricey replacement costs
The only bad news is that if you have to replace all four cartridges along with the print drum, which has a life expectancy of 45,000 mono pages, but only 11,000 colour pages, you're looking at a total bill of about £470. This is almost as much as the printer itself.
The 2480 MF comes into its own with the sheer quality of its prints. Even in standard 600dpi print mode, and using standard printer paper, font edges and colour photos are wonderfully crisp. Switch to laser-compatible glossy paper and colour photos look magnificent for a laser printer, with rich, vibrant colour that can match some inkjets.
The quality of the 2480 MF's scanner is a match for its excellent printer and, in our tests, A4 copies of colour photos were superb. The only slight downside is that the printer can't create borderless output at full A4, so you end up with a 4mm margin around all edges of a page. Matthew Richards