Sharp MX-C301W printer review

Sharp's small enterprise printer leaves a big impression

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Our Verdict

Sharp's new workhorse is compact enough to be at home on a (large) desktop surface but powerful enough to handle high-volume printing/copying/scanning jobs at a reasonable cost.

For

  • Prints quickly in 600 dpi color
  • Free Sharpdesk mobile app
  • Enhanced security features
  • 6.1" touchscreen with Stylus

Against

  • Boxy, lackluster design
  • Mobile app not yet compatible with iOS 8

The Sharp MX-C301W printer is the latest offering in the competitive enterprise printing space, which includes models like HP's LaserJet Enterprise M601 Mobile Printer and Lexmark's C740 and CS510 series printers. The Sharp MX-C301W is designed to handle a multitude of tasks in a smaller office environment quickly and cost effectively (at just 4 cents per page, according to the Sharp rep with whom I spoke). The 72.8 lb. unit handles copying, printing, scanning, and faxing, all with a footprint of just 17" (w) x 22½" (d) x 18½" (h). So, while the Sharp MX-C301W won't be practical for larger organizations, this printer will be of interest to small and medium-sized businesses that require more than a simple desktop device. Let's see how it held up after we took it for a test run.

Out of the Box

The Sharp MX-C301W sets up easily either via a Wi-Fi connection or a setup CD. The driver installation is quick and straightforward. Initial setup took about five minutes from plug-in to the first printed page. Features include a 250 GB hard drive; the ability to scan to email, network folders or a USB device; a 300 sheet tray capacity (expandable to 800 sheets with an optional 500-sheet high capacity cassette); a print speed of 30 pages per minute in both black & white and color; and a customizable high-resolution color touch screen. The touch screen is a great feature; it's fairly intuitive to navigate and works in tandem with the numerical punch keys below. It should be noted that the actual screen is about 6.1" (w) by 3.8" (h) and not 7" as the specs claim (Sharp gets the 7" figure by measuring the screen diagonally). The unit also comes with a Stylus pen for point-and-touch navigation. The printer is compatible with the Sharpdesk mobile app which allows for printing on the go. And while the boxy design won't win it any fans on appearance alone, the above features make it a competitive option for medium-sized businesses (more on this later).

Printing

Printing at an advertised 600 x 600 dpi in both color and black & white, the MX-C301W's printing capabilities are a step up from your standard desktop (although not competitive with full-sized units that offer a standard 1200 dpi). A 50mb color jpeg took about 4 seconds to print and turned out beautifully. The full-color print out of the galaxy (courtesy of the Hubble telescope via Wikicommons) captured an impressive amount of detail and color gradation. A high-resolution black & white photo of an ink-blot printed with fully-saturated black ink with no streaking, bleeding or patching. The printer also handled a number of large jobs sent in a row. I sent 6 jobs of multiple pages with color images in succession with no problems (the manufacturer claims the printer can handle up to 94 jobs in its memory). There was no discernable difference between the time it took to print a high-resolution color image and a page of black & white text.

Sharp MX C301W printer review

Printing both quickly and quietly (no labored start up sounds or squeaks) this unit does a top notch job as a printing device. Print cartridges are supplied by a Sharp dealer.

Scanning

The Sharp MX-C301W advertises a scan speed of 37 pages per minute. A test scan of 50 black and white pages, including images, to a USB device, ran generally smoothly with just one paper jam and took about three minutes total (including the time it took to fix the paper jam). The Sharp MX-C301W also works with Cloud Portal Office, Sharp's new content management software service for storing and sharing scanned documents.

Sharp MX C301W printer review

Copying

Via the touch screen, the user has a variety of options to tailor their needs for each copying project. Under the "Special Modes" tab users can add various "Stamps," including a watermark, the date, or page numbers. Users can also scan and copy a business card, adjust margins, or edit images before copying. Standard features such as selecting various paper sizes or choosing 2-sided copying are also supported. Copies were generally clean and quick with no visible difference between the copy and the original.