TallyGenicom 8108N £150
31st May 2007 | 23:00
A belt and braces approach to mono and colour printing
Despite its reasonably compact size, the TallyGenicom 8108N feels like it weighs a ton, although the actual weight is 29kg.
It's loud, too, even when sitting idle, with two fans and an intermittent pinging noise emanating from the machine, although all of this dies down to silence in standby mode.
In full flow, the printer is downright noisy, especially considering that there's no revolving carousel. Instead, the printer uses a conventional imaging drum alongside a photo-sensitive imaging belt, which lays separate toner colours onto the page in successive passes.
Toner cartridges are of the flattish variety without the built-in imaging drums, although they still stack vertically behind the front panel of the printer.
For running costs, the 8108N is something of an oddity. There's a fairly cheap toner waste bottle, which gathers unused toner, lasts for ages and only costs £12 to replace.
In contrast, the imaging belt and the imaging drum each cost about the same price individually as a whole new printer. The underlying theory behind this is that they're built to last for about 120,000 mono or colour prints, which TallyGenicom specifies as the lifetime of the printer.
It's therefore only reasonable that you throw away the printer once either the drum or the belt comes to the end of its useful life, and just hope that you haven't recently splashed out on new toner cartridges.
Once in a lifetime
While most of the consumables we've already mentioned are engineered to last for the lifetime of the printer, toner cartridges are available in standard or high-yield options.
Even using the high-yield variety, colour pages work out at a costly 9p per print. Mono pages are a much more reasonable and competitive 1.6p each. The printer is also quick for mono work with a claimed maximum speed of 31ppm in draft mode, even if we only managed a fairly typical 21 seconds for first page mono output.
Mono print quality proved good in our tests, but colour graphics were noticeably over-saturated. The real shock came with photo printing, with the 8108N giving dire colour accuracy in any of the printer driver's document, graphics or photo settings. In photo mode, light areas of prints also washed out to white far too readily.
Standard features of the printer include an alpha-numeric LCD display, complete with buttons for operating a singularly unintuitive settings and status menu. As the 'N' in its title suggests, there's also an Ethernet port alongside the regular USB connector. Optional extras boil down to a 500-sheet secondary paper input tray, although this costs about £200 - about £50 more than the entire purchase price of the printer itself.
All things considered, the Tally is fine if you want a mono laser printer that you might need to create occasional colour graphics pages with. However, our review sample was disastrous for any degree of colour accuracy and appalling for photo printing.