The Okidata Oki B4250 is a compact, grayscale small-office printer that best fits a text-happy small office or home. This machine creates prints on a par with laser quality, using LED arrays instead of a laser beam to paint a page--a technology that shaves a few dollars off the cost and aims to offer improved reliability. The B4250 includes a vendor-rated 23-pages-per-minute (ppm) engine that proved swift in our tests. Although at $241 it costs $90 more than the comparable , the B4250 prints more quickly and is cheaper to maintain. Other Oki models, such as the B4350n, work with Macs and offer a full-featured control panel and an Ethernet interface. But when speed and low upkeep price matter more than perfect print quality, we favor the B4250. The squat Okidata Oki B4250, available in a black or putty color, is nondescript but compact and sturdy. It measures 14 inches wide by 15 inches deep and weighs 20 pounds--easy to tote around if you like to rearrange your office furniture. Okidata's hieroglyphic labeling 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 the back end. 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 hood 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.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 for $190--an average cost. This improves upon 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 B4250's 2,500-page cartridge costs $36, and the imaging drum runs $199, bringing the cost of an average page of text to 2.24 cents. The printer's driver features a watermark option so that you can dress 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 $74 more and accepts an add-on Ethernet card. Alternately, choose the B4250's sibling, the B4350n, which is $178 more with a network-interface card installed. (CNET did not test the network models' performance.)The Okidata B4250 performed decently in CNET Labs' 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 .
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 grayscale 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.