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Ricoh SP C261DNw review

A compact laser printer with a big capacity

Ricoh SP C261DNw

The Ricoh SP C261DNw is a colour laser print-only device aimed at the small to medium-sized business and ready to serve a modest-sized work group. Its footprint is fairly small. But it can hold 250-sheets of paper in its single deep paper tray and dump 150 pages in its top-mounted out-tray.

It costs around Ricoh will also sell you an additional unit that will hold another 500 sheets of paper if required. It comes with Wi-Fi and NFC connectivity built in and a free iOS/Android companion app.

Design:

Ricoh’s design team have tried to soften the visual impact of this boxy unit with some subtle curves, but the wobbly beige plastic panelling looks dated to our eye and only serves to add yet more bulk. The grimly utilitarian Brother HL-L5100DN manages to squeeze similar functionality into a smaller cube. The Ricoh’s folding flaps and the sliding paper width markers of the bypass tray feel loose and ready to fail. The plain cube design of the Kyocera P5026cdw and Brother HL-L5100DN look better and feel more robust.

Features:

As a print-only device, the Ricoh SP C261DNw has only a few features to mention here. Duplex printing means it can print on both sides of the page and it can print onto a range of paper formats up to A4 size, including envelopes. You can load these in the main paper tray, or feed them into the bypass tray. 

The Ricoh SP C261DNw is very well connected with Wi-Fi built and a hard button for making a Wi-Fi Direct connection. There’s also NFC for linking your Android phone in one tap. There are also two USB ports, one for flash memory drives and one for your PC. Ricoh has even included a USB data cable in the box, which very few manufacturers do any more.

The print speed is quoted at 20ppm for mono and colour prints, with a first page out time of 14 seconds. Those are modest claims by today’s standards, but we didn’t manage to achieve anything as fast as that. 

Setup and operation:

Getting the Ricoh SP C261DNw up and running is fairly straight forward, even though there is no setup wizard to walk you through. Instead you can follow the instructions in the user manual.

Ricoh SPC261DNW

When you’re set you can explore the printer settings by peering at the tiny and highly reflective two-line LCD monitor. Altering your settings and selecting paper type at the printer is time-consuming because the buttons and display are so small. The on-screen messages are often cryptic and the menu is convoluted. The touchscreen of the Xerox WorkCentre 6515 feels light years ahead of this. 

Ricoh SPC261DNW

In order to print an address onto an envelope, you have to actually open the machine and pull a lever that changes the internal paper path, and of course remember to reset it when you go back to printing on paper. We’d have to say that the Ricoh SP C261DNw is the least user-friendly machine we have tested for some time.

Ricoh SPC261DNW

Performance:

Our various tests revealed mixed results from the Ricoh SP C261DNw. The first thing we noticed is that it is significantly noisier than any other printer we have tested and the racket is caused by the two cooling fans that whine into action as soon as the printer wakes up.

The printer defaults to ‘Energy Saver 2’ mode, which sends the printer to sleep after a matter of seconds of non-use. So you’ll be hearing those annoying wake up fans a lot unless you delve deep into the menu and switch it off. It is well worth the time you’ll spend tying to work out how to do this. 

It is also frustratingly slow to print the first page, slow enough to make you wonder if it is actually working. While printing consecutive pages takes longer than other laser printers in its class. 

The printed results are actually rather good. Mono text looks dark and rich and clearly delineated at all font sizes, page after page. Fonts in a different colour, however, suddenly look less well formed and under a magnifying glass, look ragged at the edges.

Colour documents look very bright and bold, while photos also appear pleasingly bright. The lightness, however, is at the expense of contrast and in general. Images seem to be containing slightly too much yellow and photo quality merely average. 

Final verdict:

The Ricoh SP C261DNw makes a fine job of printing black text on plain paper. Ensuring every character is rich and dark and crisp. It can churn out plain mono pages steadily at a reasonable speed and thanks to its deep paper tray it can keep on churning them out too.

And don’t forget that the paper capacity can be expanded to a maximum of 751 sheets. It offers full wired and wireless connectivity so you can print from the Ricoh mobile app via Wi-Fi Direct. Or from your PC with the supplied cable.

Ricoh SPC261DNW

The Ricoh SP C261DNw is something of an ugly duckling in terms of design and it is bulkier than print-only machines offering the same paper capacity, or more. The wobbly plastic panels and flimsy sliders do not inspire confidence and the cooling fans are too loud. 

Ricoh SPC261DNW

The user interface based around the tiny two-line mono display is cramped and the menu system is convoluted and unintuitive. The poor design, and frustrating user experience is not especially well reward either. Colour documents take much too long to print and photos generally look too bright and too yellow.

And while the asking price undercuts some other print-only lasers. It also under performs and the ‘starter’ toner cartridges that are included in the box will only last for 1,000 pages. Compared to the usual 3,000 pages.

The Ricoh SP C261DNw does a good job of printing text documents with an attractively rich and dark finish. Black and pages generally look crisp, consistent and professional, but in every other respect, this printer disappoints.

The design looks dated and bulky, the build quality feels poor. The fan noise is too loud, the display is too small and the interface is horrible. We think the Ricoh SP C261DNw is overpriced.

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