Models of laser printers with officially approved refills are just beginning to appear. This type of printer has enough consumables besides toner. Perhaps this is precisely the secret of the slow promotion of such models to the market. If the cartridge has a built-in imaging drum, then, alas, it will not work to refill it indefinitely. After a few refills, the drum fails, and the cartridge has to be thrown away and bought a new one. Even so, you can see significant savings in cost per page. The Pantum M7100DN MFP model belongs to such devices. Moreover, for refilling its toner cartridge, the manufacturer offers an official set of toner with a chip.
The Chinese company Pantum is unfamiliar to the Russian consumer. Meanwhile, she is well known in more than forty countries around the world. This twenty-year-old manufacturer designs, manufactures and markets laser printers and original consumables for them. And nothing else. This narrow specialization allowed the company to focus on the development and implementation of interesting ideas into its new products, rather than on inflating the lineup. Let’s see how things stand with the example of the Pantum M7100DN MFP.
The printer comes in a cardboard box with side carry handles. The box is relatively small, so even one person can transport it. Inside, along with the printer, we found the following accessories:
- Power cable;
- USB A – USB B cable for connecting to a computer;
- CD with drivers;
- A set of printed materials, including a quick installation guide in Russian and other languages.
The delivery set is standard. Together with the MFP, we also received the original TL-420X toner cartridge, designed to print 6,000 pages. The exact same cartridge together with the DL-420E imaging drum is already installed in the MFP. Note that most third-party printers come with starter cartridges that only print 500 pages, but in this case the manufacturer is much more generous. As for the drum cartridge, it is rated to print 30,000 pages.
Mac OS 10.6 or higher
The Pantum M7100 MFP lineup includes two devices: Pantum M7100DN and Pantum M7100DW, differing in the absence of a Wi-Fi module in the first and in the presence of it in the second MFP. We got a device without a Wi-Fi module for testing. But it still has a wired Ethernet interface. This means that the MFP can be connected not only directly to the computer, but also to the router.
In terms of its characteristics, the Pantum M7100DN is a modern A4 laser MFP with performance that will be enough for a small office. This device is positioned as an MFP for small and medium-sized businesses. Print speed of 33 pages per minute is enough for comfortable work in any conditions. The only thing worth paying attention to is the recommended monthly download. It is not too big and only makes up 3000 pages per month. But the device boasts a high resolution of printing and scanning, which is 1200 × 1200 dpi. Not every small business MFP has this high resolution.
The printer is equipped with separate cartridges. The first (DL-420E) carries an imaging drum, which, as mentioned above, is designed to print about 30,000 pages. 6,000 pages toner cartridge (TL-420X) attaches to the drum cartridge. Together, this design is installed in the MFP. Thus, the cartridges for Pantum M7100DN are replaced separately as the resource of certain components expires.
But if the toner in the TL-420X is out of toner, don’t rush to throw it away. The manufacturer officially offers a special refueling kit for it, consisting of two containers with toner, designed to print 3000 pages each, and a special chip, without which the MFP will not print without replacing it. Thus, the MFP is protected from illegal refilling and installation of unofficial consumables. However, everything here is almost the same as with printers from other manufacturers. The cost of such a refilling kit, designed to print 6,000 pages, is about 1,500 rubles, and the cost of the TL-420X toner cartridge is about 4,000 rubles. The savings are substantial.
⇡#Appearance and ergonomics
The Pantum M7100DN model is made in a classic form factor for this type of device, but differs from other models in compact dimensions. This device can be placed not only on a free-standing cabinet, like other office devices, but also simply on the table, next to the system unit or monitor. Despite this, the layout of the Pantum M7100DN is exactly the same as that of its larger counterparts.
At the bottom of the case is a removable plastic 250-sheet feed tray. The tray has metal elements inside and a sliding structure for stacking paper of various sizes. In the extended state, the rear wall of the tray protrudes slightly beyond the dimensions of the lower part of the MFP case. Above is an additional opening tray that can hold paper weighing up to 200 g / m2.
Higher up is the output bin, which holds 150 sheets. It is equipped with a fold-out plastic tab to hold the paper. For easy access, this tray has a folding mechanism with plastic levers. The quality of the plastic does not cause any complaints, but the design itself still raises concerns. When folding and unfolding, you have to apply quite a lot of effort, so it is better to do it carefully and not quickly, so as not to damage the plastic mechanism. Fortunately, you will have to do this infrequently.
The scanning module is located, as usual, at the very top. It consists of a flatbed scanner with glass and cover, a document receiving tray and an automatic document feeder. The latter is equipped with an adjustable mechanism to limit the width of documents.
Nearby is a tilt-adjustable external control panel with a two-line monochrome LCD with backlight. The panel has several buttons for quick scanning or copying of different types of documents, as well as an LED indicator with an original angular placement, informing the user about the status of the device. Well, for power control on the front side of the MFP case, there is a round button with a backlight.
All the connectors available on the MFP are located on the back of the case. There is a socket for connecting a power cable, a USB port for connecting the device directly to a PC, and an RJ-45 network port.
To get to the cartridge compartment, you need to open the bezel of the case. The cartridge unit can be removed and inserted very easily, without any significant effort. Opens at the MFP and the back wall. Behind it you can also see the cartridge compartment. Opening the back wall can help in case of a paper jam.
In general, the design of the Pantum M7100DN model is not much different from other similar MFPs, with the exception of a more compact body size. However, this is good, because in this case everything is located where it is needed. All that is missing is a USB port for connecting external drives.
⇡#Working with the device
Drivers for MFPs can be installed from the supplied CD or downloaded from the manufacturer’s official website. The complete installation kit consists of PCL6 drivers, scanning application, remote scan manager and user manual.
In terms of ease of connection, the Pantum M7100DN MFP takes the place of the leader among all printing devices that have visited our test laboratory. And this is not an exaggeration. For almost all models, when connecting, you either had to comply with some restrictions, such as prohibiting the connection of a USB cable before installing the drivers, or taking additional steps to set the IP address when using the network or additionally searching for a printer on the network. With Pantum, such questions do not arise. From starting the driver installation to printing the first test page, we made exactly three confirmation clicks on the corresponding buttons on the pop-up screens. Everything! No questions, registrations or other settings. Nothing at all. At the same time, the printer was connected to a router located in the Mesh network, but I still didn’t have to look for a device.
After installation, a new Pantum M7100DN device with a PCL6 driver appeared in the connected printers section. In the properties section, you can view information about its current state, driver version, find out the connection port, configure fonts and color profile, and print access. Everything is the same as for models from other manufacturers.
The print settings for the Pantum M7100DN are also standard, but at the same time they are not cut down at all, as can be seen in modern models of printers and MFPs of even the most popular brands. The menu with print settings can be called both separately and directly during printing. Among the print quality settings, the user can select a resolution of 600 or 1200 dpi, set the toner saving mode, as well as one of three density modes: light, normal or dark. The settings for page parameters, orientation and scale are traditional and do not require comments. We only note that the settings even provide for the ability to select the orientation of stacking sheets: the short or long edge of the paper is feeding.
Here you can also choose or customize the “water” marks in the form of one or another inscription. For them, you can set the font, size, orientation in space, including the angle of inclination. In addition, you can choose from four toner density options – from lightest to darkest. It takes no more than a few seconds to create any sign.
When the MFP is connected via a local network, the user or administrator can configure the device through the web interface. You can enter it through any Internet browser by typing the current IP-address of the device in it. There are many more settings here than in the print menu or device properties, a panel with which you can open in Windows. All settings are divided into two large sections. The first contains the network settings. In addition to the usual network settings, here you can connect Bonjour and AirPrint services, as well as connect or configure the RAW / LPD, SNMP, WSD, SMTP and SSL / TLS protocols.
The basic settings section has very detailed editable driver parameters and a set of print options. Here you can also connect via FTP and set up an address book, create an email list, and update the firmware and set up email addresses for sending notifications.
The built-in scanning application has a pleasant and understandable Russian-language interface. With its help, you can set the scanning resolution in the range from 75 to 1200 dpi, limit the scanning area, select the color mode. It is possible to manually adjust the brightness and contrast, gamma and threshold, as well as the color curve. You can save the scanned image either to a folder or send it by email. Using the standard TWAIN driver, scanning can be performed in any third-party application – for example, in Adobe Photoshop.
For a similar MFP model, but with a Wi-Fi module on board, the manufacturer has provided the ability to work with mobile devices, but our device does not have such a function. In general, in terms of customization options and usability, the Pantum M7100DN model can outperform some models of much more famous manufacturers. In this case, you can find fault only with not too developed administration settings, but any employee can connect and configure this MFP in the office. For small businesses, where there is often no way to hire a network administrator, this can be very important.
The main testing of the MFP was to check the print speed and to assess the quality of the resulting prints. To test performance, 30 sheets were printed from a PDF file with 5% text coverage. The print resolution was 600 dpi. The average speed of one-sided document printing was exactly 40 ppm (1.5 seconds per page), which is 10 pages more than the stated specifications of the device! Most likely, the manufacturer turned out to be too modest and took into account the time required for the printer to warm up in its calculations. The latter is about nine seconds. If the MFP is in sleep mode, then the first page will come out in about twenty seconds. For readability, the benchmark results are summarized in the table below.
When printing documents on both sides, the speed is noticeably reduced to approximately 18 ppm. Changing the print resolution has little or no effect on speed. Printing graphs, tables and texts with pictures is about 2.3 times slower than printing a 5% standard, but this figure strongly depends both on the degree of filling the sheet and on the application from which the printing originates. In general, the performance indicators of the Pantum M7100DN MFP are worthy for this device to work even in a fairly large office, not to mention private entrepreneurs and home use.
The second stage of testing was to check the print quality. As is the case with other laser printers and MFPs, a resolution of 600 x 600 dpi is sufficient for text and simple graphics when printing with the Pantum M7100DN. There is no significant difference when printing images with a resolution of 600 × 600 and 1200 × 1200 dpi per eye. At the lowest resolution, prints are also very clear. Printing in draft form for some reason does not lead to special changes in the brightness of the text. It is much more efficient to set the toner density to the lowest setting instead. This will maximize the toner savings. Below you can evaluate the quality of the resulting prints of different types with different print resolutions and toner densities. All test prints presented in the material were made on A4 office paper with a density of 80 g / m2, after which they were scanned at 600 dpi and saved in Adobe Photoshop in JPG format with the highest quality.
The built-in color scanner is perfect for any type of document, including images, graphics and print. The scanner is not intended for photographs, but it can scan a photo for a document and presentation. You will surely be satisfied with the quality. For most works, a resolution of 300 × 300 pixels or even less will be sufficient. Scanning colors are very accurate. You may need to increase the brightness slightly. Scanning speed of one A4 document at 600 × 600 dots is about 50 seconds. Below you can see examples of images scanned with a resolution of 600 × 600 pixels, saved in JPG format with maximum quality, without editing.
When printing monochromatic surfaces, the black color is quite even, without gaps and distortions. In general, the quality of printing and scanning of the Pantum M7100DN MFP is at the level of similar office devices from other well-known brands in the mid-price range. The same goes for print speed. At the same time, this device cannot be attributed to very noisy, and, most importantly, to “capricious” models that require regular attention due to malfunctions that occur. Nothing of the kind was noted for the entire time of testing the Pantum M7100DN.
For many MFPs Pantum M7100DN can be to some extent a real discovery. This is not only a relatively new name for printing devices on the Russian market, but also high quality printing combined with ease of maintenance and relatively low cost. Together, these advantages allow us to speak of the Pantum M7100DN model as one of the most interesting in its class, which requires mandatory consideration when choosing an MFP or printer for a small office.
Among the shortcomings, one can note only not the widest possibilities of network administration, but the convenience of working with the software and the web interface of the new product is at the highest level. And among the advantages of this MFP, it is worth noting its compact dimensions, which, alas, cannot boast of modern models of other manufacturers, which are becoming more and more every year.