In a break from its established strengths in photocopiers, Ricoh has announced a range of standalone printers under the Aficio brand that will battle Hewlett-Packard products.
The AP1400, AP2000, AP305 and AP505 are all digital laser printers aimed at general offices, where HP leads the market.
The AP1400 and AP2000, both available now, are A4 mono printers offering 14 and 20 pages per minute (ppm), respectively, at a resolution of 1200 dots per inch (dpi). The printers, which use a drum and toner rather than a cartridge, offer a small footprint and replaceable maintenance kits.
Ricoh expects to charge #700 for the 1400, and #900 for the 2000. Both support PostScript Level 2 and PLC6. A 45ppm version is due by the autumn.
The AP305 and AP505 were showcased at this year's CeBit show and will be available in July. Both are A3 colour machines. They offer 17ppm mono and 5ppm colour, at 600dpi. The 505 supports PostScript Level 3 and will take oversize A3. Prices are to be announced in June.
Ricoh will also bundle new printer manager software, Aficio Manager, with its printer network cards. Aficio Manager is scalable and can display status information on all selected printers within one window.
Ricoh had previously marketed products based on an argument of keeping TCO down, on the belief that a higher initial price was offset by lower maintenance and cost per page.
Speaking for another of Ricoh's competitors, Rob Forbes, marketing manager for Kyocera, warned: "Any new vendor entering this well-defined market will find it an uphill struggle to establish its brand."
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