At $1699, the Magicolor 4650DN could be considered a steal. It's a colour laser printer with a good print resolution, which puts to use some nifty technology to ensure that its colour output is vibrant. It's aimed primarily at office environments that require good-looking colour prints, and lots of them, and it's fast enough for use in a demanding workgroup.
Indeed, if you want clear, well-defined colour output from a laser printer, then this model can't be overlooked. It produced beautiful photo output in our tests, which, while not perfect, is perhaps the best we've seen from a colour laser printer of this class to date. Fine details, such as feathers and shadows, were clearly defined in photographs and edges were relatively smooth. That said, you can still see some jaggedness around the edges and there is some visible banding across the page, but it's not evident unless you closely scrutinise the output. For presentations and reports, its output is ideal and even for photos its quality is very acceptable.
You can print on A4-sized paper through the built-in paper tray, which holds 250 sheets, and an optional 500-sheet tray can be added when you need more capacity. The 4650DN also has a built-in duplex unit so you can print on both sides of the paper effortlessly. Of course, through the driver, you can also elect to print multiple pages to one page and you can save toner by printing in economy mode. Different colour profiles can be set depending on your print job. The only thing the driver lacks is an option to secure your prints, but that's just a minor quibble.
In terms of speed, the unit was clocked at 15 pages per minute when printing out a black and white PDF file, with a first page out time of 25sec, but it was about half as fast when printing colour PDF files. Still, it's not too shabby and by the time a user presses the print button on a moderately-sized job (say 20 pages) and heads over to collect the output, it should be done, assuming there aren't too many jobs in front of it.
We tested it using its USB 2.0 connection, but it also has gigabit Ethernet and parallel ports. A USB port is present near the top of the unit, which allows USB sticks to be plugged in. If you purchase and install the optional hard drive, or a compact flash card, you can print directly off the USB port using the printer's menu system, but it's not altogether intuitive. You have to select the file type that you want to print, and then browse the files on the stick to print them.
Physically, it's a heavy unit that requires two people to lift it into position, but it won't take too long to set-up. It consumes four toner cartridges and comes pre-installed with starter cartridges for black, yellow, magenta and cyan. These have a rating of 3000 pages, but toner with a rating of 8000 or up to 30,000 pages can also be purchased. The toner uses smaller particles to enable it to print in greater detail and it's wax, rather than oil-based, which is said to improve the longevity and vividness of colour prints. We definitely didn't have a problem with its vividness in our tests. As already mentioned, colour prints were very good looking.
The printer's menu system isn't hard to navigate, but can be a little hard to read depending on the angle you look at it, and it even has a little light that changes colour based on your paper situation. If the printer has paper in it, it'll be blue, but if it's out, then it will glow purple. Therefore you'll know at a glance that the paper tray needs replenishing. We also found the printer to be relatively quiet, which is a bonus for users who will be sitting near it in the office.
A monthly duty cycle of 90,000 pages is stated for black and white or colour printing. The only consumables for the printer are the four toners, colour and black print kits, plus a waste kit. Based on toner cartridges rated for 8000 pages, the colour print cost per A4 page (at 5 per cent coverage) is about 14 cents.