The Okidata Oki B4250 is a compact, greyscale printer that best fits a small office or home. This machine prints on a par with laser printers in terms of quality, using LED arrays instead of a laser beam to paint a page. This knocks a few pounds off the cost and aims to offer improved reliability. The B4250 includes a 23-pages-per-minute (ppm) engine that proved to be swift in our tests.
Although it costs more than the comparable Samsung ML-1740, the B4250 prints more quickly and is cheaper to maintain. Other Oki models, such as the B4350n, work with Macs and offer a fully equipped control panel and an Ethernet interface. However, when speed and low upkeep price matter more than perfect print quality, we favour the B4250.
The squat Okidata Oki B4250, available in a black or beige, is nondescript, but compact and sturdy. It measures 355 by 381mm and weighs 9kg -- easy to move around if you like to rearrange your office furniture. Okidata's hieroglyphic labelling makes the control panel hard to decipher, but with only four blinking lights and a single button, you won't need the Rosetta stone to translate. Both a parallel port for older PCs and an up-to-date USB 2.0 port stick out at the back. A single screw fastens a plate over the controller and its empty memory slots, making it easy to install memory upgrades.
The control panel perches on the brow above the output tray, with a button to pop open the lid like the bonnet of a car, exposing the paper path, the toner, and the imager. We found the B4250 easy to use, despite the challenge of adding paper. The main paper tray's handle is knuckle-scrapingly shallow. To keep skin attached to bone, we opened the tray by bracing a thumb against the thin auxiliary flap.Features
The Okidata Oki B4250 offers a wealth of features, such as 16MB of memory -- enough to satisfy most single users -- with the potential to house 272MB total. The main paper tray holds 250 sheets, and the printer will accept a second, 500-sheet tray, sold separately. This is an improvement on the cheaper Oki B4100, which won't accept another paper tray or more memory. The hand-fed auxiliary tray holds only a single envelope or a sheet of other media, such as labels. The face-up rear exit, which outputs delicate pages without bending them, enjoys its own support tray. The printer's driver features a watermark option so that you can jazz up the Confidential stamp on your private documents.
The Oki B4250 lacks a networking option, so if you aim to share your printer, turn instead to the similar B4350, which costs slightly more and accepts an add-on Ethernet card. Alternatively, choose the B4250's sibling, the B4350n, which is more expensive with a network-interface card installed. (CNET did not test the network models' performance.)Performance
The Okidata B4250 performed decently in our tests. Though far behind the fastest laser, at 18.8 pages per minute (ppm) for text and 17.8ppm for graphics, it still beat the popular HP LaserJet 1012.
The B4250's print quality was sharp overall. It was clear even at the smallest font sizes, although the text looked patchy and light. Graphics, however, suffered more from the high contrast. With even a cursory glance, we could see that images were washed out or uneven.
From the performance perspective, the Oki B4250 is a decent greyscale printer that quietly and smoothly gets the job done. We tested it at the manufacturer's default settings, which can be adjusted to improve performance.
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Performance analysis written by CNET Labs project leader Dong Van Ngo.
Service and support
The concise Oki B4250 setup and software-installation guide booklets have grainy photos, but they carefully guide you through the easy process. The printer's onscreen PDF manual, however, sometimes puzzled us by mixing together information on the B4250 and similar models. Under Windows XP, the installation flowed smoothly, despite the software's unnecessary questions about the printer model. Okidata's Web site lists only two articles for the B4250, so you're better off e-mailing questions directly to tech support.
Edited by Elsa Wenzel
Addtional editing by Tom Espiner