The OKI MB471 retails at £380, and is the next step up in OKI's product line from the OKI MB461 (£340). OKI targets both models at micro or small offices with relatively heavy-duty print, scan, and copy needs. The key difference between the two is that the MB471 adds faxing. And just as the MB461 is an attractive choice if you don't need a fax capability in your multi-function printer (MFP), the MB471 is equally attractive if you do.
Let me amend that.
The MB471 might be your preferred choice even if you don't need faxing, as there are other differences between the two models. The maximum resolution for the MB461 is 600 x 2,400 dots per inch (dpi), for example, while the MB471 offers 1,200 x 1,200. The difference can affect both speed and output quality, and indeed, the MB471 offers slightly better looking output, particularly for text.
A potentially more important difference is printer language support. Both printers support PCL, which is all that most offices need. For those that require PostScript, however, the MB471 offers it as well, letting you install drivers for PCL, PostScript, or both. Even if you don't need faxing, either of these differences – the resolution or language support – could easily justify the additional cost for the MB471, which isn’t a huge extra outlay.
Also worth mentioning is that OKI sells a Wi-Fi version of the MB471, the MB471w, which costs £450. According to OKI, except for Wi-Fi, the two models are identical, so this entire review should apply to both. Keep in mind, however, that if you print using Wi-Fi with the MB471w, the speed may be different to that of the Ethernet connection I used.
The MB471 can print and fax from, as well as scan to, a PC, and can do so over a network. It can work as a standalone copier, and it can print from and scan to a USB memory key. As with most office MFPs, it offers a letter-size flatbed, but supplements it with an automatic document feeder (ADF) that can scan up to legal-size pages. The ADF in this case offers a 50-page capacity and the ability to duplex, turning the page over after scanning one side to scan the other.
The printer's paper handling is another feature that goes a step beyond its smaller brother the MB461. Both models include a 250-sheet paper tray and a built-in duplexer (for two-sided printing), but the MB471 adds a 100-sheet multi-purpose tray. This should be enough for most micro and small offices, but as with the M461, if you need more, you can add an optional 530-sheet tray for a maximum 880-sheet input capacity.
One other feature the two printers share is that because the ADF and printer both duplex, you can copy both single and double sided originals to your choice of single or double-sided copies. In addition, the MB471 can scan both single and double-sided originals for faxing.
Setup and speed
Although the MB471 is too big to share a desk with comfortably, at 427 x 424 x 455mm (WxDxH), it is small enough to easily fit in most micro or small offices. Setup is absolutely typical for the breed. For my tests, I connected the printer to a network and used the PCL driver on a Windows Vista system.
The MB471's speed on my tests was on the slow side for its 35 page per minute (ppm) rating, a speed that you should see for text documents with no formatting. I benchmarked it on our business applications suite (using QualityLogic's hardware and software for timing) at 9.5 ppm.
For comparison’s sake, that pretty much matched the MB461, although the lesser sibling printer was actually a touch quicker at 10ppm. However, neither can keep up with some of the faster printers out there, such as the Canon MF4570dn, which hits 12.3 ppm. The measured speed, in short, counts as respectable, if not particularly impressive.
Output quality and running cost
Output quality is slightly above par overall, with above par text, and decent graphics and photos. As I mentioned earlier, the quality is a tad better than the MB461's output, particularly for text, but it falls in the same general categories across the board.
Text is one step above the tight range that includes the vast majority of mono MFPs, making it easily good enough for any business needs short of high-quality desktop publishing.
Graphics output is easily good enough for any internal business needs, too, but depending on your level of perfectionism, you may or may not consider it good enough to hand out to an important client or customer when you wish to convey a sense of professionalism. Photo quality is good enough to print photos in client newsletters or the like, and more than good enough to print web pages with recognisable photos.
One last, and particularly welcome, plus for this device is Oki’s claim of low running costs, with most MFPs in its price bracket being more costly to the tune of 50 per cent more per page. Obviously it’s difficult to quantify that, and we have to take the company’s word for it, but that could represent a considerable saving if you’re doing a lot of printing, over a protracted office life.
As may be obvious, there’s a lot to like here. The OKI MB471 doesn't stand out for its speed or output quality, but it delivers a good balance of those two important elements, plus paper handling and MFP features that make it a highly attractive choice as a workhorse MFP for a small office. It’s also nicely priced, and any office that needs this level of heavy-duty printing will almost certainly benefit from the low claimed running cost as well. And that's enough to secure this printer a Best Buy award.