Excellent print quality, especially for photos. Fast. PCL and PostScript emulation. Spacious paper drawer and multipurpose tray. Highly expandable paper capacity.
High purchase price. Relatively high running costs. Expensive optional paper trays. No Wi-Fi Direct or NFC. No Wi-Fi (wireless), even as an option. Available only through select Canon dealers.
- Bottom Line
The Canon Color ImageClass LBP712Cdn is fast and it churns out excellent-looking output across the board, but a steep purchase price and a high cost per page for its class diminish its overall value.
The Canon ImageClass LBP712Cdn ($900) single-function laser printer produces excellent-looking documents at impressive speeds. It comes with massive paper capacity, and you can expand it significantly to boot. Just about everything about the LBP712Cdn, from its 80,000-page maximum monthly duty cycle to its 40-pages-per-minute (ppm) rating, says volume. But although volume should also mean economical use, its per-page cost of toner is relatively high. That, along with its relatively high purchase price, dampens the LB712Cdn's overall value.
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Design and Features
Measuring 18.1 by 18.3 by 15.3 inches (WDH) and weighing 77.2 pounds, the ImageClass LBP712Cdn is big and heavy. You'll need two reasonably fit people to wrestle it out of the box and onto its perch, which, given this machine's size and weight, needs to be a stout bench or table. In addition, the LBP712Cdn supports only wired (Ethernet and USB) connections. Not only is there no Wi-Fi (802.11), even as an option, but you won't find the two most popular peer-to-peer protocols, Wi-Fi Direct or near-field communication (NFC), for connecting to mobile devices without being connected to a network, either. Canon's Print Business app picks up much of the slack when printing from cloud sites or your mobile devices, as well as printing from email. You can also print from USB thumb drives. The USB port resides on the right side of the chassis, just above the multipurpose tray.
As for compatibility, the LPB712Cdn support Canon's default page description language (PDL), UFR II, as well as HP's PCL5c/e and PCL6, and Adobe's PostScript. Both PCL and PostScript are used in high-end desktop publishing applications, such as graphics and document design, which, among other benefits, will allow you to use this printer's output as composites, or proofs, for larger runs on printing presses.
Printing from the cloud, USB thumb drives, or other walk-up (PC-free) options are handled from the front panel, which resides on top of the chassis, to the right of the 200-sheet output tray. The panel's controls include a five-line monochrome LCD, an array of physical navigation buttons, and a numeric keypad.
Duplex (two-sided) printing is enabled by default, but you can easily turn it off in the driver interface. The LBP712Cdn comes with two paper input sources: a 550-sheet main drawer and a 100-sheet multipurpose tray for bypassing the main drawer, for a total of 650 sheets. If 650 pages from two separate sources isn't enough, you can add up to three 550-sheet cassettes ($325 each), for a total of 2,300 sheets from five sources, for high volume and/or the versatility of holding several different types of media at the ready, without having to take the printer out of service to change media types.
Canon rates the LPB712Cdn at 40ppm, with no distinction as to whether the output is black-and-white or color, or whether it's one-sided (simplex) or two-sided (duplex). PC Labs' testbed computer is an Intel Core i5 PC running Windows 10. The LPB712Cdn comes out of the box ready for two-sided printing, so we tested that first. While printing our lightly formatted text document, it didn't quite make 40ppm in duplex mode, but at 37.5 ppm it came close. On the other hand, when we printed the text document in simplex mode, the LPB712Cdn printed it at 41.3ppm, making it one of the fastest printers we've reviewed since starting our new testing regimen.
The more complex our test documents became, the lower the print speeds got. When printing an aggregate of all our test documents, including the aforementioned text document, as well as pages with color, embedded business graphics, and photos, the LPB712Cdn's speed dropped to 19.7ppm—again, highly competitive. While we can't compare these speeds to those of machines tested with our previous test suite, in many ways—including print quality and print speed—this model resembles the Dell Color Smart Printer S5840cdn, our Editors' Choice medium-duty color laser.
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I found many things to like about this printer, among them (and high on the list) its print quality, but then at its price it had better be good. Text down to the smallest point size we test (4 points) remained highly legible, very near typesetter quality. Graphic fills and gradients looked mostly clean and devoid of banding and other flaws. In fact, after switching from the default Canon driver to PostScript, halftone screens (tints, gradients, and some other types of fills) came out looking very near printing-press quality, especially at arm's length.
Where the LPB712Cdn really shines is in printing photographs, and that's a statement not often made about laser printers. The photos looked remarkably close to photo-inkjet quality; I had to look very closely to find even minor flaws, such as a slight graininess in some halftones.
While there's nothing to complain about with this printer's output, we've seen other models, including the Dell S5840, that print just as well.
The ImageClass LPB712Cdn's toner cartridges and print drums are combined units; when you change the cartridge, you change the drum. Hence, the cost-per-page numbers here include drum replacement costs. That said, the highest-yield black cartridge is rated by Canon at 12,500 pages, and the three-color (cyan, magenta, and yellow) cartridges, combined with the black toner, are good for about 10,000 pages. When you purchase these cartridges from Canon's site, the monochrome cost per page is 1.7 cents, and color pages run about 10.4 cents.
If you do a Web search on the LBP712Cdn, you won't find a wealth of shopping information as you will for most printers. It's only available through Canon's select network of dealers, the so-called imageClass Premier Partners. That said, there is a link to the list of dealers on the product entry for the printer on Canon's site, sorted by state and providing names, addresses, and phone numbers. For New York State, 25 such dealers are listed, 11 of them in New York City. Idaho has two dealers, while Rhode Island has just one, and Wyoming doesn't have any. Fortunately, several online dealers are listed, each selling the printer for about $900.
Without question, the Canon ImageClass LBP712Cdn is a high-performing machine with excellent print quality. In fact, the only real issue keeping it from faring better in this review is how much it costs up front, and then how much it keeps costing you while you use it. The LBP712Cdn's 1.7-cent black-and-white cost per page was competitive a little while back, but today we look for closer to a penny a page. That said, given that this printer costs more per page to use than less-expensive competitors, it is better suited for lighter use, perhaps less than 1,000 pages per month—not much for a color laser of its caliber. Even so, after all is said and done, the LBP712Cdn is one fine printer.
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