Canon Laser Shot LBP5360

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The LBP5360 colour laser is the latest printer from Canon. Recently machines from the company have produced good quality output, but we have found them somewhat lacking when it comes to ease of installation.

Test Procedure
When assessing a printer we consider print speed, print quality, ease of use, and construction.

Speed: Standard documents are used to assess peak machine speed (printing plain, monochrome text at 5 percent coverage) and also average machine speed (documents contain images and a variety of fonts and colours) in both colour and monochrome mode. Spool times are omitted from speed calculations as is on-printer processing time for the peak pages per minute score.

Quality: Standard files are printed and assessed against standard hardcopies used in all Enex TestLab printer testing. Test, graphics and photos are assessed for quality of colour, contrast, graduated shades/hues, line fineness and positioning, as well as handling of colour boundaries.

Construction: We look at the engineering quality in terms of design and implementation.

Ease of Use: We judge the useability of the product, including quality of documentation and menu functions.

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Product Performance
The LBP5360 is a duplex printer which is network ready and comes with both USB and parallel ports. It is designed for a busy small or medium office with priority given to speed and efficiency. Styled in grey and white curves, it is a reasonably attractive machine, but sadly the manufacturing process has left a couple of sharp corners to trap the unwary hand.

Canon also skimped on the single line LCD which provides poor information during menu navigation. A two line display could have greatly enhanced the usability of this machine. Conversely, the machine has excellent access panels to facilitate maintenance including toner replacement and clearing paper jams. The basic unit has a 250 page paper drawer, upgradeable to a 500 page drawer, plus a manual feed tray.

During colour testing, we found colours were washed out and the reds were a little too orange. The printer handled graduations of colour and shade well, with only minor horizontal banding. Photo reproduction is very good (albeit pale) although on occasion we saw strips of inappropriate colour where the relative alignment of colour cartridges had gone slightly astray. The alignment issue was also apparent in some fine line patterns where we found significant Moire patterns. Text quality was very high.

Assuming 5 percent page coverage, the user can expect about 6000 pages per toner-cartridge, which equates to about 3.6 cents per page -- a very reasonable result for a relatively small colour laser printer. Canon also appears to be doing the right thing environmentally, with not only cartridge casings, but many other internal parts being manufactured from PET plastic. Furthermore, the ability to do duplex printing can significantly reduce office paper use.

The driver interface is well laid out for easy navigation and provides a wealth of options including "booklet printing", to supplement the duplex function, and five quality settings for different text and graphics applications. Sadly the installation of the user interface was not as easy. The installation disks contained software and manuals that did not entirely match and the manual was sorely needed. We were unable to successfully install using the automated search function and in the end we just asked Windows XP to do it for us.

Test Speed (pages per minute)
Peak pages per minute (single sided) 21.5
Peak pages per minute (duplex) 20.5
Avg. pages per minute (monochrome) 18.5
Avg. pages per minute (duplex) 18.5

We found the installation process to be complicated. We are inclined to suggest to buyers that they ignore the installation disks and have Windows install the drivers. The GUI on your computer is easy enough to use once installed, but the menu on the printer itself is not intuitive.

Once installed, the printer received excellent printing results. Canon promises up to 21 pages per minute and that's what they deliver. Duplex printing has very little effect on print speed (and we have seen printers where the speed is halved when duplexing!). Nor is speed adversely affected by printing in colour.

We found print quality to be very good -- a fact that we find again and again when dealing with Canon. There was a very slight misalignment of colours which was not improved by calibrating of the machine, but this was apparent only occasionally. Line/text quality was very good and streaking in shaded areas was not serious. Borders between colours were generally good. Contrast and skin-tone handling was excellent. Colours could have been a little more intense.

Canon offers a basic 12 month return to base warranty; an extended warranty is available if required. Canon provides Web access to driver updates, troubleshooting guides and manuals online.

Given a price tag of almost AU$2000 it would be nice if the set-up process was a little less buggy, however this is a good quality printer and would serve a small office very well.