Like the Samsung Xpress M2825DW , the Ricoh SP 311DNw is meant primarily as a shared printer for a micro or small office, although it could serve as a heavy-duty personal printer as well. In a head-to-head comparison between the two, it comes in second on speed and output quality, but first on paper handling. That's enough to both keep it in the running and, for some offices, make it the preferred choice.
As with the M2825DW, the SP 311DNw comes with a 250-sheet paper tray and a duplexer (for automatic two-sided printing). Unlike the Samsung printer, it also includes a 50-sheet multipurpose tray, which makes it easy to switch to a different paper stock without having to swap out the paper in the main tray.
The 300-sheet input capacity should be enough for most micro offices or small workgroups, with the multipurpose tray serving as a welcome convenience for offices that need to use more than one type of paper stock. However, note that there aren't any paper handling upgrade options available, so if you need a higher capacity, you'll have to look elsewhere.
Measuring 370 x 395 x 265mm (WxDxH), the SP 311DNw is a little bigger than you might want sitting on your desk, but short enough so that it won't tower over you if you choose to keep it there. It's also light enough, at 13kg, so one person can move it into place.
Connection choices include both Ethernet and Wi-Fi in addition to USB. For my tests, I used the Ethernet connector and installed the drivers on a system running Windows Vista. Setup was standard fare.
As I've already suggested, speed is not a strong point. Ricoh rates the printer at 30 pages per minute (ppm), which is the speed you can expect if you're printing a file with single-column text and little to no formatting. However, I timed it on our business applications suite (using QualityLogic's hardware and software for timing) at 7.3 ppm. That's fast enough so it should be acceptable in most offices, but slow for the price and engine rating.
In comparison, the Samsung M2825DW managed to come in at 9.9 ppm on our tests. If most of what you print consists of one or two-page documents, however, the SP 311DNw's slower speed shouldn't be an issue.
Output quality is a touch below par overall, with par quality graphics and photos, but below-par text. Fortunately, mono laser printers offer high enough text quality in general to make even the SP 311DNw's below-par text more than good enough for almost any business use.
For graphics, the output is good enough for any internal business need and potentially good enough for PowerPoint hand-outs or the like, depending on how critical an eye you have. For photos, par quality translates to being suitable for printing recognisable images from photos on web pages, but not for anything more demanding than that.
If your focus is on fast speed or high quality text, you'll probably be better off with another printer, and you should certainly take a close look at the Samsung Xpress M2825DW which is in the same price bracket. If you don't mind a slightly slower speed and text that's best described as good enough for most purposes, however, and also want a multipurpose tray for more convenient paper handling, the Ricoh SP 311DNw could well be the better choice for your needs.
Manufacturer and Model
Ricoh SP 311DNw
Rated Speed at Default Settings (Mono)
Colour or Monochrome
Technology (for laser category only)
USB, Ethernet, Wireless