If you think laser printers belong only in the office, Ricoh's SP 150SUw is here to convince you otherwise.
For a start, it's tiny - about the size of two loaves of sliced bread side by side - but it's also an all-in-one device that’s able to print, scan and make copies.
Features and design
The SP S150SUw’s diminutive stature doesn't leave much room for fancy features. If you want to print on both sides of the page you'll have to do it manually, and the only controls are a power switch and a single button that makes single photocopies. Its 50-sheet paper input tray is basic, too, and there's no paper output tray at all: leave enough room at the front, however, and printed pages settle surprisingly tidily on the desk.
Ricoh's software is straightforward, but immediately after installing it onto two PCs we could neither print to nor scan from the device. A bit of troubleshooting revealed that weak Wi-Fi reception had caused it to drop off the network, which is the first time we've had that problem in our current test environment. After moving the MFP it worked perfectly, but you may want to make sure it isn’t too far from your Wi-Fi router.
Performance: Printing, scanning and copying
The Ricoh didn't hang about in our printer tests, producing the first page of our letter test in just 10 seconds, and completing the full 25 pages at more than 20 pages per minute (ppm). Graphics printing was also quick, with our more complex test completing at 15ppm. Photocopies were reasonably fast at 15 seconds, although the results were a little dark. Scans were comparatively slow, especially at low resolutions. An A4 preview took 29 seconds, while scanning the same page at either 150 or 300 dots per inch (dpi) took 32 seconds. Conversely, at the maximum available 1,200dpi it took just over a minute to capture a 6x4" photo, which is actually quite competitive.
We can't fault the SP 150SUw's print quality. Text was predictably black and crisp, but graphics were also cleanly rendered with minimal banding - a bugbear of many cheap lasers. Even photos were reasonably good, possibly thanks to the printer's claimed 1,200x600dpi maximum resolution. Scan quality was less impressive. The TWAIN scan interface lacks an easy auto exposure feature, and without manual tweaking we found that office documents were underexposed, allowing white paper to take on a blue tint. The default settings work much better for photos, which were captured with realistic colour and displayed surprisingly good dynamic range, but they weren't as sharply focused as we'd like.
We often whinge about the running costs of cheap lasers, and the SP 150SUw is no exception: even its 1,500-page 'high-yield' consumable works out at 3p a page. That's more than many equivalent inkjets - Epson's WorkForce WF3620DWF comes in at 1.3p, for example. That said, the SP 150SUw is clearly designed for infrequent use, and in those conditions an inkjet’s running costs would increase due to the ink wasted by head cleaning.
As a quiet, fast, competent and unobtrusive home MFP, the SP 150SUw shows that there's still a case to be made for lasers in the home. Even if you can’t quite stretch your budget over the £100 mark, don’t rule out Ricoh completely – as the SP 150SUw is the top-of-the-range model, you can pick it up without wireless networking (the SP 150SU) for around £75. And if all you want is a super-compact printer, then you could always dump the scanning and copying options completely and choose between its dinky wireless (SP 150w) or USB-only (SP 150) stablemates.