Laser printers aren't what they used to be. The price tags have seen unprecedented drops in recent times, plus they're far more efficient than the dinosaurs of yesteryear. The quality of colour prints from a laser has also seen big improvements, to the point where they're beginning to encroach on the traditional turf of inkjets.
The FS-C5015N is at the lower end of Kyocera's colour laser offerings, but still boasts impressive specifications. The 128MB of RAM can be upgraded to 640MB, which is very useful for those super-sized files, not forgetting situations when the printer will be heavily used. A 400MHz PowerPC processor drives the printer's internal software.
The distinguishing aspect of the FS-C5015N is that the projected cost per page is lower than many other printers we've seen. You get 4,000 prints from each toner, while the printer itself is both durable and affordable. Requiring servicing less frequently is an additional saving, with the drums guaranteed for up to three years.
The specs jargon lists 16ppm as the printer's optimal output speed, although we found it closer to 12ppm for monochrome pages and 11ppm for our colour test image. However, this discrepancy can be explained by our factoring of the approximate 16 seconds to send our gargantuan test image to the printer.
The most important benchmark for a colour printer is how well it applies ink to the paper, and the FS-C5015N is a strong performer. We fiddled with the settings to achieve the best colour balance on a variety of images. While a professional inkjet printer is capable of outputting better quality photographs, especially on high-quality paper, Kyocera's offering does a decent job on run of the mill A4, with bright and vivid colours.
The FS-C5015N benefits from a rear panel featuring LAN, legacy parallel and USB 2.0 connectivity. Multiple interface connectors can be used simultaneously, handling print jobs from both a connected local PC and over a network.
This printer doesn't offer special features - apart from the price. You don't get multifunction scan/fax capabilities, but we feel that can be overlooked. Coupled with the long-life components, solid build quality and small desktop footprint, the FSC5015N is definitely good value.