Ricoh's new range of Aficio printers is an interesting attempt to solve the persistent problem of 'ink-bleed' - the loss of fine detail in both text and graphics that occurs when the water-based inks used by low-cost inkjet printers soak and spread into the porous surface of a sheet of paper.
There are several models in the range, with prices as high as £600, however we decided to take a look at the entry-level GX 2500, which costs £130 and is aimed at home and small business users.
High quality printing
Rather than being an inkjet printer, Ricoh calls the Aficio a 'gelsprinter' because it prints with liquid gels that dry and solidify rapidly so they don't 'bleed' into the paper.
We were certainly impressed by the quality of both text and graphics produced by the GX 2500. Text quality, in particular, was excellent and definitely superior to many similarly priced inkjet printers.
We were also impressed by the printer's speed for a printer in this price range, turning out ten pages of text in a minute, and a large A4 photographic print in less than 25 seconds.
Expensive to run
However, we do have our doubts about the printer's suitability for home and small businesses. It's rather large and bulky, and we can imagine that many home users will opt for a more conventional inkjet printer purely on aesthetic terms.
More important, though, is the high cost of the replacement ink cartridges. A complete set of replacement cartridges for the GX 2500 will cost a thumping £125, and Ricoh quotes a cost of 9p per colour page.
That's pretty high - though it does also point out that there's a special Level Colour mode that reduces the cost of printing colour pages to the same level as an ordinary black and white printer - which it quotes at around 1.5p per page.
Even so, most home users and small businesses will balk at the cost of the ink cartridges, which suggests that the Aficio series is more suited to larger businesses that are prepared to pay for the speed and high-quality it offers.