$$ - Review: FS-1300D

Introduction

The FS-1300D is the successor to the Kyocera FS-1030D (note the different positioning of the “3” in the model number), a monochrome laser printer that was reviewed in the November 2007 edition of Pulse+IT against other printers deemed possibly suitable for deployment in a GP or Specialist consultation room environment. While the FS-1030D performed admirably against its competition, the newer FS-1300D delivers several improvements over its predecessor that warrant re-examination.

Requirements

In the aforementioned review, the author stressed several printer characteristics that should be sought when purchasing printers for typical consulting rooms. These include:

Trays, trays and more trays

The most effective way to reduce the time clinicians spend printing documents in their consultation room is to minimise the need for them to have to physically handle different types of paper forms, including scripts, pathology and radiology requests, practice letterheads, and other document types. Given that installing multiple printers in a single consultation room is likely to be undesirable for cost and ergonomic reasons, the deployment of a single printer with multiple paper trays will usually be the most viable method of reducing the time spent manually inserting the requisite paper type into the printer.

Time to first page

While the top speed of both laser and ink jet printers continues to improve steadily, the fact that many printers suitable for consulting rooms can print 20 to 30 pages per minute is largely irrelevant. Rarely do doctors need to print large multi-page documents. Instead, the vast majority of jobs sent to a consultation room printer are one or two pages in length. Because of this usage pattern, purchasers should look for printers with a fast “time to first page“ rating.

Total cost of ownership

While the purchase price of a printer is easy to measure, determining the ongoing cost of running the device is more involving. Armed with an approximation of the number of pages the printer will output each year, would-be purchasers should be mindful of the cost of toner per page, and also the cost of replacing the printer’s drum unit (a procedure that isn’t necessary with the Kyocera FS-1300D).

Warranties, the location of service centres, and whether scheduled maintenance needs to be performed should also be considered.

Features

In its default configuration, the Kyocera FS-1300D ships with a single 250 page paper cassette tray in addition to a 50 page multipurpose tray, which is revealed by opening the front panel of the printer. Previous models in the Kyocera range allowed a single 250 page cassette to be added for a total of 550 pages of capacity, however the FS-1300D allows two optional 250 sheet trays to be added for a total capacity of four paper types and 800 pages.

Unfortunately, unlike the Kyocera FS-1000, FS-1010, FS‑1020D and FS-1030D, which all utilised the same optional paper tray design (PF-17), the FS-1300D breaks this long-running compatibility line, preventing owners of these superseded printers from utilising their existing investment in additional paper trays. While this is somewhat frustrating, it should be noted that Kyocera has historically done a better job of protecting their customers’ investment in such accessories than other manufacturers.

The Kyocera FS-1300D includes a USB port for connectivity, however the printer can be purchased with an optional Ethernet network card pre-installed. While not usually necessary in a consultation room, built-in networking capacity can be useful in some circumstances. The printer comes standard with 32MB of RAM, however an additional 512MB can be installed, an upgrade worth considering if the user routinely prints long and graphically complex documents.

Represented by the “D” in the model number, the Kyocera FS-1300D includes duplexing capabilities that may come in handy when patients — or their lawyers — request a copy of their entire medical record.

As is to be expected of all modern laser printers, the devices output quality is of a high standard. An economy mode can be activated to reduce the amount of toner used when printing, a process that reduces the already competitive running costs at the expense of visibly lighter output. In the these times of environmental awareness, the FS-1300D’s economy mode is likely to be suitable for all but the occasional print job that requires maximal presentation.

Benchmarks

The printer boasts a “time to first page” of 6 seconds, besting many of its rivals by several seconds in this important metric.

In testing, the author found that real world performance varied greatly depending on the graphical complexity of the document, and whether the printer first needed to “awake” from power saving mode. The author recorded times of around 14 seconds when this was the case, but a more impressive 7 seconds when the printer was “warm”.

The “time to second page” was consistently 2.5 seconds after the first when printing multi-page documents, with a single-sided 20 page document taking 57 seconds to complete. When printed in duplex mode, the same document took approximately twice the time due to the more lengthy and complex path taken by the paper through the device.

Room left for improvement

While the core features and performance profile of the Kyocera FS-1300D rate highly, a few minor aspects of the printer’s design present Kyocera with the opportunity to further refine this class of printer.

Aesthetically, the printer’s two-tone colour scheme is slightly jarring when compared to the beige-only shell featured on the printer’s predecessors. Of greater functional note, the author found the circular status display indicator to be less than helpful due to its tendency to bleed light between the plastic chambers positioned under the various printer status symbols. On more than one occasion during testing, this led to a misdiagnosis of the intervention requested by the printer.

Finally, the positioning of the power switch at the back left of the device makes it more difficult to access than it needs to be, an affliction that is inherent in many printers unfortunately.

Conclusion

With a street price of just under $450, the FS-1300D is not the cheapest device in its class, but it delivers significantly “more printer” than some of the cheaper monochrome laser options available.

Despite the minor appearance and user interface issues noted by the author, the impressive “time to first page” performance and the ability for the printer to handle up to four types of paper simultaneously contribute to make the FS-1300D a suitable option for practices looking to refresh their consultation room printers.

Posted in Australian eHealth

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