If you’re looking for a monochrome laser multifunction printer (MFP)for heavy-duty use in a micro office, small office, or workgroup, or for up to moderate use in a midsize office, the OKI MB472w ($399) is a strong contender. Like other OKI printers that compete directly with lasers, the MB472w$412.25 at Amazon is actually an LED printer, which means that it uses LEDs rather than a laser to draw the image of each page on its drum. However, it uses the same technology as laser printers otherwise, making it indistinguishable from a laser in any practical sense.
One obvious competitor for the MB472w is the Canon imageClass MF6160dw$299.99 at WalMart, which remains our Editors’ Choice in this category primarily because it delivers somewhat higher text quality than the OKI printer, as well as faster speeds in our tests. However, the MB472w comes in a close second overall, and offers some strengths of its own, most notably a lower claimed cost per page. Depending on your preferences, either one could be the better fit.
The MB472w offers a full set of basic MFP features, including the ability to print and fax from a PC, scan to a PC, and work as a standalone copier, fax machine, and direct email sender—meaning it can scan a document and send it as an email attachment without needing a PC. Going beyond the basics, it can print to and scan from a USB memory key, and it also offers mobile support.
Assuming you connect the printer directly to a network, using either Ethernet or Wi-Fi, and the network is connected to the Internet, the MB472w will let you print through the cloud. It will also let you print through a Wi-Fi access point on your network from iOS and Android smartphones and tablets. It doesn’t offer Wi-Fi Direct, which means you can’t connect to it if it’s not on a network. However, that shouldn’t be an issue, since most offices that need this heavy-duty a printer will almost certainly put it on a network.
Part of what defines the printer as suitable for moderate to heavy-duty use in a midsize office is its paper handling. The MB472w comes standard with a 250-sheet drawer, a 100-sheet multipurpose tray, and an automatic duplexer (for two-sided printing). You can also add a 530-sheet tray ($229) for a maximum capacity of 880 sheets.
For scanning, the MB472w offers both a letter-size flatbed and a 50-page automatic document feeder (ADF) that can handle up to legal-size pages. It can also copy, scan, and fax in duplex, by scanning one side of the page, turning it over, and scanning the other—a feature that the Canon MF6160dw also offers. This approach to duplex scanning is slower than scanning both sides of the page at once, but it’s a lot more convenient than having to scan duplex documents manually.
As is typical for MFPs that can both print and scan in duplex, the MB472w can mix and match the two features for copying, so you can copy both single- and double-sided originals to your choice of single- or double-sided copies.
Setup, Speed, and Output Quality
The MB472w is a typical size and weight for this heavy-duty an MFP. It’s too big to share a desk with comfortably, at 17.9 by 16.8 by 18.8 inches (HWD), and heavy enough, at 44 pounds 2 ounces, that you may want some help moving it into place.
Setup is typical for a monochrome MFP. For my tests, I connected it to a network by Ethernet and installed the drivers on a Windows Vista system. One minor potential issue is that the Recommended Install choice doesn’t install the fax driver. If you want to fax from your PC, you need to choose Custom Install and then click on the Fax Driver check box.
The engine rating for the MB472w is 35 pages per minute (ppm), which is the speed you should see when printing documents like text files that need little to no processing. The speed on our tests was within the typical range for the engine speed, but not impressive.
I timed the printer on our business applications suite (using QualityLogic’s hardware and software for timing), at 9.7ppm. That’s just a bit slower—although not significantly slower—than the 10.1ppm I timed for the more expensive OKI MB492$622.42 at Amazon, which is rated at 42ppm. However, it’s significantly slower than the Canon MF6160dw, which has the same speed rating as the MB472w, but came in at 13.2ppm in simplex (one-sided) mode. The Canon printer also managed 9.9ppm in its default duplex setting, essentially tying the MB472w’s time for simplex mode.
Output quality overall is at the high end of what we expect in this category. Text quality falls in the middle of a fairly tight range that includes the vast majority of monochrome MFPs, making it good enough for any business use, as long as you don’t have an unusual need for small fonts.
Graphics and photo quality both fall at the high end of the range for monochrome MFPs. For graphics, that translates to being good enough so that most people would consider the output suitable for PowerPoint handouts and the like. Photos are easily good enough for printing webpages with photos or even photos in, say, newsletters—for those few who may still print newsletters instead of sending them electronically.
If you need still better output quality than the OKI MB472w offers for text, or you can benefit from faster speed, you should certainly take a close look at the Canon MF6160dw. But also keep in mind that the MB472w’s lower claimed running cost—at 1.9 cents per page compared with 2.8 cents for the Canon printer—can save you $9 for every 1,000 pages you print. Print 45,000 pages over the printer’s lifetime, and the savings can pay for the initial price of the printer. If you expect to print enough for the savings to matter, the MB472w may well be the printer you want.