Ricoh Aficio SG 2100N review

Ricoh Aficio SG 2100N

Ricoh has been using its Geljet technology for several years – PC Advisor reviewed an earlier Ricoh Aficio GX3000 model seven years ago in 2007. The technology uses fast-drying gels rather than the water-based or pigmented inks used in most inkjet printers.

Previous Geljet printers were aimed squarely at corporate users, but Ricoh has now launched a new range of Aficio printers that are more compact and less expensive, in the hope of expanding into the home and small business markets.

According to Ricoh, the advantage of this technology is that the viscous gel-based inks don't ‘bleed' into the porous fibres of low-cost office papers like conventional inks, and this allows them to produce better results for photos and colour graphics when using ordinary office paper. See also: best inkjet printers of 2014.

Ricoh Aficio SG 2100N review: price and value

Prices for the new Aficio SG range start at £60 for the SG2100N reviewed here, so initial purchase price is certainly within the budget of home users and small businesses.

It's a fairly basic printer, with no built-in scanner or copying functions, and no double-sided printing. But, to be fair, there aren't many printers that include those features for £60. The lack of Wi-Fi connectivity may be more of a loss, as it means that you're limited to wired connections via USB or the printer's ethernet port.

The SG 2100N performed well in speed tests. Ricoh quotes speeds of 12 pages per minute for both mono and colour printing, and our test documents came very close to that, producing speeds of 11 ppm for both plain text documents and PDF files containing text and colour graphics.

That's good performance for a printer costing just £60, and with its 250-sheet paper tray, 10,000-page monthly duty cycle, and two-year on-site warranty, the SG 2100N could make a good workhorse printer. See also: 11 best printers 2014: what's the best printer?

Ricoh Aficio SG 2100N review: text quality

We were pleased to see that text quality had improved since the last time we reviewed one of the Geljet printers. Plain text wasn't quite as crisp and black as that of a laser printer, but we liked the smooth outlines, especially on italic fonts, and overall text quality was perfectly adequate for day-to-day work such as printing letters or school reports.

Printing colour graphics on plain paper was something of a mixed bag. Using the printer's default 600 x 300 dpi resolution, it took 17 seconds to produce an A4 colour photo on plain office paper. The results weren't bad – a little grainy, but it was noticeable that the photo output lacked the banding that often afflicts conventional inkjet printers.

Stepping up to the printer's interpolated ‘1200 dpi' resolution and highest-quality settings slowed it down to a full 2 minutes for the same A4 photo, but the image was sharper and clearer, and with brighter colours.

You're obviously not going to get lab-quality photos when using ordinary office paper, but if you need to print colour posters or fliers on plain paper then the SG 2100N does have an edge over most of its inkjet rivals.

Ricoh Aficio SG 2100N review: running costs

Unfortunately, the SG 2100N is let down by its high running costs. The problem here is that the SG 2100N doesn't include an option to use high-yield ink cartridges that can help to reduce running costs.

Its standard cyan, magenta, yellow and black cartridges all cost about £25 each, but only last for around 600 pages. That works out at almost 4.2p per page for mono printing and up to 16.7p for four-colour prints. That's above average even compared to ‘budget' inkjet models. It is possible to buy a value pack containing all four cartridges for about £95, but that only brings prices down 5 percent. See also: 8 best budget printers 2014 UK.

Ricoh Aficio SG 2100N: Specs

  • Four-colour (CMYK) gel-based inkjet printer
  • 600 x 300 dpi resolution
  • 12 ppm rated speed for mono/colour
  • 1x USB 2.0 interface
  • 10/100 ethernet port
  • 250-sheet input tray
  • 100-sheet output tray
  • paper stocks – A4-B6, 60-163 gm^2
  • 399 x 360 x 212.5 mm
  • 9.5kg
  • Four-colour (CMYK) gel-based inkjet printer
  • 600 x 300 dpi resolution
  • 12 ppm rated speed for mono/colour
  • 1x USB 2.0 interface
  • 10/100 ethernet port
  • 250-sheet input tray
  • 100-sheet output tray
  • paper stocks – A4-B6, 60-163 gm^2
  • 399 x 360 x 212.5 mm
  • 9.5kg

OUR VERDICT

The Aficio SG 2100N provides good performance for such an inexpensive printer, and Ricoh's Geljet technology does work well when printing colour graphics on plain paper. Unfortunately, its high running costs make it harder to recommend – even for basic mono printing. The next model in the range is the Aficio SG 3110DN, which costs £90 and provides duplex printing as well as the option to use high-yield cartridges, so it may be worth paying more up front for that model in order to keep your long-term running costs under control.