First impression on unpacking the Q702 test unit was the solid feel and clean, minimalist styling.
Konica Minolta bizhub 421
A capable multifunction for a more than reasonable asking price.
- Web interface, direct print from USB, comparatively inexpensive
- Mono scanning, relatively low resolution printing, Web interface could be easier to manage
There is little difference in functionality or capability between the bizhub 421 and 501, so the price difference clearly favours the bizhub 421. Unless every ounce of performance matters, the bizhub 421 is a more reasonable purchase.
Price$ 14,270.00 (AUD)
Konica Minolta’s bizhub 421 is a mid-range, lower-spec version of the bizhub 501, with a significantly lower price tag. There really isn’t much need to go for the more expensive model, unless the extra 10 pages a minute are of paramount importance.
The base model configuration of the bizhub 421 provides fairly standard functionality. Automatic duplex is included, and the unit has Ethernet, USB and RS-232 connections. It also has a Web interface for remote administration and a secondary USB port on the front of the unit to allow direct printing from a memory stick.
Most other functionality comes at a premium, though, with a finishing unit, extended paper input, internal hard drive and fax functionality all optional accessories that the salesperson will inevitably attempt to sell you. To take full advantage of the device the optional hard drive is a must-have; it enables the unit’s User Box system to be used, which allows document storage for printing and scanning.
Although the Web interface may require a slightly steep learning curve for the average office user, administration and monitoring is easy thanks to a comprehensive set of options. For the average user, the User Box is undoubtedly the most valuable feature, with one-touch scanning allowing users to easily scan documents to the optional hard drive. The only problem we had in this regard was with saving the documents; the interface requires a comparatively lengthy seven-step process in order to download the desired document, something which could have been made simpler.
The key difference between the bizhub 421 and the bizhub 501 essentially comes down to speed. Although the hardware in both multifunctions is essential identical, the bizhub 421 has slightly slower print times as well as an inferior monthly cycle volume. The bizhub 421 will print at an average of 42 pages per minute — though while testing the unit we managed 43ppm — at all quality levels, with the first page out in 11.4sec. Compared to the 501’s 54ppm capability, this difference in performance is largely negligible, making the saving of $4500 between models worth the slight compromise in performance.
Print quality is adequate though not outstanding. The bizhub 421 is limited to a maximum print resolution of 600x600 dots per inch, making it suitable for the average office document but a little too rough for mono presentation documents and the text perfectionist. Still, text is clean and accurate, though it’s slightly bolder than some high-end desktop laser printers due to the difference in resolution and text density.
Unfortunately, the bizhub 421 shares the same key fault as the bizhub 501 — mono scanning. Colour scanning mechanisms are almost ubiquitous in scanners and multifunctions of all sizes, and the seemingly conscious omission here compromises the unit’s functionality. Scanning is still done well — at a maximum resolution of 600dpi text is clear and sharp.
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