HomeTechRicoh 132 MF Review | PCMag

Ricoh 132 MF Review | PCMag

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The Ricoh 132 MF mono laser all-in-one (AIO) printer combines a 1,200-by-1,200dpi print engine for top-tier text quality with a capable scan feature that includes automatic duplexing (two-sided scanning). Those two functions work together to make it a good copier, as well. And Ricoh adds a fax modem and some surprisingly sophisticated fax features for a printer aimed at relatively light-duty use in a small office or workgroup. The cost per page is a little high for the $358 list price, which is one of the main reasons the 132 MF is best reserved for relatively light-duty printing, but it can be a solid AIO for the right small office.


Design: A Straightforward All-in-One Laser Printer

The 132 MF is a typical size for an AIO printer meant for a small office or workgroup, at 16.5 by 15.9 by 15.4 inches (HWD), but a little heavier than many, at 40 pounds. Physical setup is easy. Remove the packing materials, including from the toner cartridge that ships inside the unit, slide the cartridge back into the printer, and connect the power cord.

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Driver installation requires going to Ricoh’s website. For my tests, I downloaded the full install package, which offers a mostly automated setup routine for installing any or all of the available drivers. The choices are for PCL6, which I used for my printer testing; PostScript for those offices that need it; a Twain driver, which should work, in theory, with any scan program; and a fax driver, which lets you fax using the Print command from virtually any program that has one.

Top, front, and right sides of Ricoh 132 MF printer

(Credit: Ricoh)

Connection options for the printer as tested are limited to USB and Ethernet, the latter of which I used. Ricoh also sells a $44 optional Wi-Fi dongle that adds Wi-Fi and Wi-Fi Direct, but even without it, you can print from an Android or iOS mobile device by connecting to the same network the printer is on. You’ll also notice an NFC logo on the top panel near the front, but the printer version meant for small offices doesn’t actually support NFC, and even when the feature is included, it’s not meant for initiating Wi-Fi Direct connections. Ricoh says the logo is needed for potentially adding NFC verification in a variation of the printer meant for enterprise-level small workgroups.

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Paper handling for printing is suitable for light-to-medium-duty use by small-office standards. The printer includes a 250-sheet drawer and a 50-sheet multi-purpose tray for a total of 300 sheets, and it supports automatic duplexing (two-sided printing). You can also add a second 250-sheet drawer ($187). Assuming you don’t want to refill the trays more than about once a week, that translates to printing up to about 2,200 pages per month with the optional drawer, or an average of 110 pages per working day. For the base unit only, the number works out to 60 pages per day, or 1,200 pages per month. Ricoh’s recommended duty cycle is up to 1,500 pages per month.

Ricoh 132 MF printer with the optional second draw added, and both drawers open

(Credit: Ricoh)

For scanning, copying, and faxing, the 132 MF offers a letter-size flatbed and a 35-sheet, reversing automatic document feeder (ADF), which means it can scan both sides of a two-sided document by scanning one side of each page, turning the page over, and scanning the second side. This isn’t as fast as duplexing ADFs, which scan both sides in a single pass, but it isn’t as expensive, either, and it’s a lot faster and easier than manual duplexing. It works only for scanning and copying, however. Fax scanning is simplex (one-sided) only.

The per-page cost is 3.5 cents. That’s a little high compared with the competition, but don’t get too focused on running cost by itself. As we discuss in our guide to How to Save Money on Your Next Printer the more important issue when making comparisons is the total cost of ownership: running cost plus initial cost. Beyond that, you should also consider other potential savings and whether the printer’s features are worth paying extra for. One of the 132 MF’s faxing features, for example, will let you forward incoming faxes to an e-mail address, which will save you the cost of printing them. Note also that the 132 MF’s toner cartridge includes the drum. When comparing with other printers that sell imaging units separately from the toner, don’t forget to add in the costs per page for the drum unit.

Ricoh 132 MF printer, showing the flatbed for scanning items that won't go through an ADF

(Credit: Ricoh)

We don’t usually get into detail about scan and fax features, because most AIOs come with fairly self-explanatory utilities for either or both functions, as appropriate. In this case, however, the scan utility is hidden in the Smart Organizing Monitor app, where you can easily miss it. When you launch the app, you’ll see options for checking toner status and the like. Picking the option for User Tools, then for Scan, will take you to a modest but useful and easy-to-use scan tool. The only fax software for the 132 MF is the already mentioned fax driver, which installs as a printer driver.

With the printer straight out of the box, you can also use the control panel for some basic scanning (to a USB memory key only) and basic faxing (by entering a phone number manually). Beyond that, you can create scan profiles to store in the printer, and use the predefined profiles to scan and fax from the front panel. However, setting up the profiles for both scanning and faxing is designed less for small offices than for large enterprises with IT departments that want to exercise strict control over the allowed profiles. As already mentioned, there’s no option for scanning duplex originals for faxing, but as a workaround, you can scan duplex documents to a PDF file, then open them in any appropriate program and use the program’s print command to fax via the fax driver.


Testing the Ricoh 132 MF: Okay Speed, Better Text Quality

To judge performance, I compared the 132 MF with the Canon MF465dw, the Lexmark MB2236i, and the Pantum BM5100ADN, three small-office mono laser AIOs that each offer different strengths. All four printers were tested using an Ethernet connection and our standard testbed computer running Windows 10.

The results on pages two though 12 of our 12-page Word file were a match in each case to the printer’s rating, within the range of rounding error, putting the 132 MF—rated at 34ppm—in last place, at a measured 33ppm. However, the difference from fastest to slowest was only 5 seconds, which won’t be noticeable for a shared printer that you have to walk to after giving the print command. Even for a 50-page text file, not including the first page, the difference between fastest and slowest would be only about 25 seconds.

The first-page-out (FPO) time could be more of an issue if you often print several short files in quick succession. The FPO time difference between the MF465DW as the fastest and the 132 MF as the slowest was also just 5 seconds.

But our full business-applications suite, which includes five additional short files, saw a major increase in the total difference between fastest and slowest. The Canon printer took 68 seconds (22ppm), while the 132 MF took 110 seconds (14ppm).

Also, if you plan to print primarily in duplex, the performance differences are much more significant. The MF465dw stands out in this group for hardly slowing down for two-sided printing, managing 35ppm not including the first sheet. All of the other printers slowed down by a much greater percentage. The speed for the 132 MF, in particular, dropped from 33ppm to 13ppm and the time more than doubled compared with printing the same document pages in simplex.

For 4-by-6-inch photos, the 132 MF averaged 13 seconds each.

Text output quality is a definitive strong suit. Using the printer’s 600-by-600dpi default setting, all but one of the fonts you’d likely use in a business document were highly readable and well-formed at 5 points, with the remaining font readable, but less so, at that size, due to some lines rendering thin enough to seem a little gray, rather than dark black, and some small breaks in some strokes. Switching to 1,200-by-1,200dpi increased the quality enough to make all the fonts in this group highly readable and well-formed at 4 points.

Graphics at the default resolution were easily good enough to convey all the information they were meant to, but a step below top tier for a mono laser. I saw some subtle banding, easily visible dithering patterns in solid fills, uneven pile height in black fills, and obvious posterization (shading changing suddenly, instead of gradually) in one gradient that’s hard to render well. A single-pixel-wide line on a line graph with a black background was visible but easily missed, turning into a dashed line over part of its length and hard to see in other parts. Photo quality fell in the middle of the range you would expect from a 1990s black-and-white newspaper photo.

A straight-on view of the Ricoh 132 MF printer, showing the front only

(Credit: Ricoh)

Setting the resolution to 1,200-by-1,200dpi reduced the banding and dithering significantly in graphics, lessened the level of posterization, and improved visibility for some segments of the thin line on a black background while hiding other segments entirely. For photos, the higher resolution removed almost all of the banding, dithering patterns, and posterization, boosting quality to a bit better than the high end of the range for a newspaper photo.


Verdict: An Adequate Mix of Quality and Cost Savings

The Ricoh 132 MF offers lots of capability, but its approach to scanning makes it hard to take advantage of the ability to scan from the front panel if you don’t have an IT department to set up all the profiles you need. If you’re considering it, be sure to take a look at the other printers mentioned here as well, starting with the Lexmark M2236i. Its paper capacity is even lower than the 132 MF’s, and it can’t scan in duplex, but it is also the least expensive of these printers and offers faxing though the cloud, which can save money over the cost of a dedicated fax phone line.

The Canon MF465dw and BM5100ADN both offer higher paper capacities and lower running costs than the Ricoh 132 MF, and both have duplexing ADFs that scan both sides of a page at the same time. Between them, the BM5100ADN is less expensive and has a lower running cost, while the MF465dw offers faxing and Wi-Fi, plus top-tier mono-laser output quality.

That said, the Ricoh 132 MF comes in a close second in this group for output quality, while costing less than the MF465dw. If text quality is a key deciding factor, and you won’t be printing enough for the Canon printer’s lower running cost to make up for its higher price, the Ricoh 132 MF can easily be your best choice.

Pros

  • Prints, scans, copies, and faxes

  • Maximum 1,200-by-1,200dpi resolution

  • Reversing ADF for duplex scanning and copying

  • 4.3-inch touch-screen control panel

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Cons

  • Clunky software, with no fax support

  • Faxing is limited to simplex scanning only

The Bottom Line

The Ricoh 132 MF offers top-tier text quality, auto-duplexing for printing, a reversing automatic document feeder for scanning and copying, and high enough paper capacity for light-to-medium duty printing in a small office or workgroup.

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