So, what do I want out of my next laptop and what must it include?
Konica Minolta bizhub 501
A worthwhile choice for the medium-sized office.
- Fast print speeds, USB direct print, User Box features, adjustable control panel
- Mono scanning, low resolution printing, Web interface slightly complicated for average users
Konica Minolta’s bizhub 501 provides adequate functionality for the medium-sized office with fast print speeds and decent remote administration capability. This multifunction is let down by mono scanning, however.
Price$ 18,970.00 (AUD)
Konica Minolta’s bizhub 501 is a medium-volume mono laser workgroup multifunction built for medium-sized offices. Though medium seems to be the key word here, the bizhub 501 still manages fairly fast print speeds and adequate quality for documents, making it a very reasonable choice for offices. For worthwhile functionality, though, expect to shell out a bit more cash for the optional accessories.
The bizhub 501 largely takes the same design approach (or lack thereof) as most workgroup multifunctions, with a standard boxy shape, large A3-capable paper trays, and a gap between the paper input trays and automatic document feeder used as the printer’s output space. Konica Minolta has taken some design liberties, with an easily accessible toner bottle in the unit’s front panel to make replacing consumables much faster. The bizhub 501 also has an adjustable control panel — as opposed to the more common fixed panels — which houses a large 8.5in touch-screen colour LCD and the machine’s primary controls. This design adds some depth to the machine, but it does allow for a larger LCD which makes the machine easier to use on a day-to-day basis.
Considering our disappointment with the Web interface found on Konica Minolta’s bizhub c200, we were surprised to find that the bizhub 501 featured an extremely comprehensive Web-based administrative control panel. Users and administrators can easily assess the multifunction’s status and directly print from the interface.
The most noticeable feature of the 501’s Web interface is the User Box, a function that’s made available only if the optional hard drive is installed. These user boxes, which can be created and altered by administrators and users alike, facilitate a one-touch scanning setup that allows images to be saved onto the drive for later downloading through the Web interface. There are some possible improvements — the interface is somewhat complicated for everyday users and unlike Fuji Xerox’s Phaser 8560MFP, it doesn’t provide thumbnail previews of each scanned document on the interface (though they can be viewed from the 501’s control panel). Nevertheless, the User Box feature is a useful addition and one that goes far and beyond the direct transmission model featured on the c200.
Interestingly, the bizhub 501 also features a USB port, adding another direct print option as well as another method of saving scans. The idea is simple but effective.
The key differentiating factor between bizhub 501 and the bizhub 421 is durability — the 501 can sustain a monthly duty cycle of 175,000 as opposed to the 421's 150,000 — and print speed, which is where the 501 really makes a mark. Konica Minolta rates the machine at 50 pages per minute but in our tests we found printing speeds closer to 54ppm with 10.6 seconds until the first page came out, a surprising result that was consistent under all quality settings.
At a hardware level, the bizhub 501 possess a fairly standard 600x600 dots per inch print resolution. Although this doesn’t match the specialised printing resolutions of HP’s LaserJet P4015n, it's more than suitable for your average office document. The results are adequate at all quality levels ranging from the multifunction’s Toner Saver mode, to full 600dpi with the unit’s “Smoothing” capability turned on. Text characters are well-formed and accurate, though a little bolder than higher-resolution prints.
The biggest disappointment of the bizhub 501 is its scanner. Though we understand the market need for mono printing in the office, Konica Minolta has seen fit to restrict the bizhub 501’s scanning to black and white as well. There’s no real reason as to why this has been done — the machine even has a specific Photo option in its scanning configuration — and it means that it can’t be used to scan anything beyond documents and basic mono imagery.
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