Introduction, Design, Features
As we’ve noted before, there are a lot of single-function and multifunction, or all-in-one (AIO), monochrome laser printers in the world. Over the past year or so, we’ve looked at several from Brother, Canon, HP, Dell, Oki Data, Samsung, and Xerox, and haven’t come close to reviewing them all. And there are still more models from other manufacturers not listed above, one of them being a long-established maker of laser printers and other office equipment worldwide—Ricoh. Today’s review model, the $455-list Ricoh SP 377SFNwX Black and White Laser Multifunction Printer, is the first of a few of the Tokyo electronics giant’s machines that we’ll be reviewing over the coming weeks.
Paying just under $500 usually gets you a midrange, medium-volume monochrome laser AIO. The 377SFNwX’s price positions it between Brother’s MFC-L5700DWCanon’s ImageClass D1550; however, the Ricoh’s 30,000-page maximum monthly duty cycle suggests that it’s less capable by several thousand pages than these and other closely priced monochrome laser AIOs, including the Brother MFC-L6800DW and Canon ImageClass D1520. Unless, that is, you evaluate them from a different number, the recommended monthly volume, which in most cases is a much more relevant figure. The Ricoh model’s 5,800-page recommended volume is more than a couple of thousand pages higher than most of the other monochrome AIOs mentioned here.
Despite its lower duty cycle, as you’ll see in the Cost Per Page section later, the 377SFNwX delivers lower running costs than most other midrange monochrome laser AIOs, which, if you’re printing thousands of pages each month, is a very important consideration. Also important is how well the AIO prints. Although during our tests our Ricoh review unit churned out graphics and photos slightly darker than we like, its overall print quality is quite good, especially when printing text.
As you’ll see in the Design Features section coming up next, the 377SFNwX is also significantly smaller and lighter than most of the AIOs mentioned here so far. In fact, its size is closer to that of an entry-level model, such as, say, Canon’s $300-list ImageClass MF249dw. Even so, it comes with just about every production and convenience feature you can get on a laser AIO in this class, including an auto-duplexing automatic document feeder (ADF) and a plethora of standard and mobile connectivity methods.
Not as stylish as Canon’s latest round of monochrome lasers, nor as volume-capable and expandable as Brother’s current midrange black-and-white laser AIOs, the Ricoh 377SFNwX nevertheless has its charms, to the extent that if its overall print quality were just a wee bit better, it would have easily walked away with our Editors’ Choice nod. Otherwise, it is an ideal mid-volume workhorse for your small office’s or workgroup’s internal communications, as well as frontline situations, such as the front desks at doctors’ and dentists’ offices, auto repair shops, and anywhere else quick, short text documents are required.
The 377SFNwX’s two-tone chassis (black with a white front and ADF) is fairly stylish…
But more impressive is its relatively compact size and light weight. It measures 15.9 inches high by 15.9 inches across by 15.5 inches from front to back (making it a fairly equally sided cube) and weighs only 37.5 pounds. Canon’s D1550, a somewhat higher-capacity (but lower list-priced) model, is 2 or 3 inches bigger in every dimension and weighs 10 pounds more than the 377SFNwX, as does the Canon MF419dw, which measures the same as the D1550. Brother’s MFC-L5700DW is also larger (19.1 by 17.7 by 16.8 inches) than the 377SFNwX, but it weighs about a pound and a half less. Our point? Based on price alone, the Ricoh AIO is much more likely to fit comfortably on your desktop beside you than most of its competitors.
As mentioned, the 377SFNwX comes with a 35-sheet auto-duplexing ADF for sending two-sided originals to the scanner without you flipping them manually…
This is a “reversing” auto-duplexer, meaning that after the scanner scans one side of the page, the ADF pulls the sheet back in, flips it, and then scans the other side, as opposed to a “single-pass” duplexer with two scanning sensors that allow for scanning both sides simultaneously…
Most of the machines mentioned here, except the Brother MFC-L5700DW (its 70-sheet ADF can’t scan both sides of a page automatically at all), also come with reversing ADFs. The more expensive Brother MFC-L6800DW, on the other hand, comes with an 80-sheet single-pass auto-duplexer.
We should also mention the Epson WorkForce Pro WF-M5694, a monochrome inkjet AIO that Epson offers as an alternative to laser printers. It, too, like the 377SFNwX, has a 35-page reversing ADF. Inkjet AIOs are often preferable to their laser counterparts in that they cost less and often cost less to use. In this case, the WF-M5694 is a little less expensive than the 377SFNwX. As to whether it costs less to use than this Ricoh, though, we’ll discuss that later in the Cost Per Page section. Whether a machine’s ADF is reversing or single-pass, both methods allow you to make unattended two-sided copies; for both the Ricoh and Epson AIOs here, that would be up to 35 two-sided copies, compared to the MFC-L6800DW’s 80 copies. The Canon AIOs we’ve been talking about have 50-sheet ADFs.
As for connectivity features, the 377SFNwX supports just about all of them, starting with Wi-Fi, Ethernet, and connecting to a single PC via USB. You also get the two popular peer-to-peer networking features, Wi-Fi Direct and Near-Field Communication (NFC), that allow you to connect your mobile devices to the printer without either it or them being connected to a network. In addition, like most of its competitors, the 377SFNwX supports most other mobile and cloud connectivity features, such as printing from and scanning to the cloud or printing emails, but instead of supplying several different apps for executing these functions, Ricoh does it all in one app that the company calls Smart Device Connector.
You can also print from and scan to USB thumb drives via the port located on the left-front edge of the chassis…
You can set up and execute all these features from the unit’s built-in secure (HTTPS) Web server, shown in the first image below, or from the rather extensive control panel (shown in the second image) consisting of several buttons and a number pad, anchored by a 4-line monochrome LCD. Several of the additional buttons are shortcut keys dialing fax numbers and other programmable keys for executing features and workflows (such as, say, scanning to email or printing from the thumb drive) that you use frequently. This feature is close, of course, to shortcut icons found on many of today’s printers with relatively big, customizable, tablet-like touch displays.
Setup, Cost Per Page, Paper Handling
Setting up the 377SFNwX is straightforward, and unlike many other laser printers this capable, its relatively small size and light weight make the job all that more pleasant. Aside from removing some tape and other packing material, filling the paper drawer, and installing the software, there’s just not that much to it. We had the unit up and printing, scanning, and copying in well under 30 minutes.
Recall that this AIO’s recommended monthly print volume is well over 5,000 pages. If you plan to print thousands of pages each month, the cost per page (CPP) is very important. Keep in mind that if you do print 5,000 pages each month, a 1-cent difference between one printer’s CPP and another’s can cost you $50 per month. That’s $600 a year—well over the cost of this printer and most of the others discussed earlier.
That said, Ricoh offers only one 6,400-page yield toner cartridge for the 377SFNwX, and it lists for $105. Using these advertised yield sizes and cartridge prices, we calculated this AIO’s CPP at 1.6 cents. We also shopped around and found the same cartridge for as low as $98, which reduced the CPP to 1.5 cents. As midrange monochrome lasers go, these numbers, while not rock-bottom, are low. The Brother MFC-L5700DW’s running costs, for example, are also 1.6 cents, but then its recommended monthly volume is only 3,500 pages per month.
Canon’s MF416dw, on the other hand, prints at 3 cents per page, and its slightly less expensive D1550 sibling, at 3.5 cents per print, is even higher still. If you print thousands of pages each month, that 2-cent difference between the D1550 and the 377SFNwX adds up fast. We should also add that the Epson M5694, that monochrome inkjet laser alternative AIO we mentioned earlier, also prints at 1.6 cents per page, and, while it and most other inkjet printers use much less electricity than their laser counterparts (also saving you money), as you’ll see in the Performance section coming up, the Epson inkjet is significantly slower than Ricoh’s 377SFNwX.
Compared to most of the other monochrome laser AIOs discussed here, paper handling, or at least paper capacity, is one of the 377SFNwX’s weaker features. Its standard paper input capacity is 300 sheets, split between a 250-sheet main drawer up front and a 50-sheet multipurpose tray that pulls down from the front of the chassis, just above the main drawer.
An interesting aspect of the 377SFNwX’s paper handling, though, is that when you extend the main drawer to hold legal-size paper, this AIO extends the tray out the back of the printer instead of pushing out the cassette in front, as shown in the image below. Not a big deal, but different.
Printed pages land on top of the printer itself, which doubles as a 50-sheet output bed, just beneath the ADF (it’s that gap just beneath the control panel). Given its volume capacity, 50 sheets is small for this class of AIO. Even so, during our tests we printed hundreds of pages and ran several stacks through the ADF—all without a single paper jam or any other hiccup; the 377SFNwX’s paper path worked flawlessly, as did the printer itself.