AR-C150/Fiery RIP

Sharp has entered the Macintosh-printing world with a fantastic A3 colour-laser printer, that is also an A3 colour-copier. The addition makes for a good, but expensive proofing, printing and copying solution. Traditionally, photocopiers and colour-laser printers have been sold in different ways. Photocopiers have been leased, while printers have been bought outright. This is because Office managers tend to be in charge of photocopiers, while IT managers take care of printers. Photocopiers aren't cheap. Leasing allows more regular upgrades and a simpler support contract. Buying a photocopier can be cheaper in the long run, but if there's a problem it can be costly to fix. The Sharp printer and copier is available by both methods.
Improved
The copier's features are simple to use and give consistent results. There is some degradation on the copy, but, compared to old mono-copiers, the quality is fantastic. The colours were close, but not exactly the same as the original. This is fine for office documents, but printing is a different matter. Company logos need to be the right colour every time, so the colour accuracy is good on the printing side of things. The high-end printing features and colour management are thanks to the Fiery RIP. You can elect to save documents to print later. For example, a company handbook, or an often used presentation, can be left on the RIP. Then, when another copy is needed, it can be printed quickly without RIPing the file again. The printer it is capable of 15 A4 pages per minute (ppm) in full colour, or 25-ppm in monochrome.

OUR VERDICT

The AR-C150 and its companion RIP do a great job of printing and copying. It is fast and easy to use, just like a copier should be. There are some quirks that you wouldn't expect to find in a modern colour laser printer, such as the loose toner for refills. It isn't as messy as it sounds, but it's not as straightforward as cartridges. It is, however, much cheaper than cartridge systems. The only problem with the whole set-up is the price. At £25,000, it's a huge investment. Frankly, there are cheaper ways to achieve a similar goal. Most colour printer manufacturers offer a scanner attachment, for simple copying, at a fraction of the price. You don't get the whole printer copier in one convenient piece, and you miss out on any kind of fancy copying features, but this option can save £15,000 or more. Professional copy shops seem the ideal setting for a machine like this. Though it would be nice to have, it's a luxury few companies will be able to afford.

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