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Ricoh and Konica Minolta Honored with BLI’s First PRO Awards for Color Production Models

Apr 16, 2012 12:22:28 PM
Hackensack, New Jersey, April 16, 2012 - BLI, the leading independent authority in the document imaging industry, is pleased to announce the winners of its first annual PRO Awards acknowledging the best-in-class production print devices. BLI’s inaugural 2012 awards were presented today to Ricoh for the Pro C901 in the color mid-volume production category and to Konica Minolta for the bizhub PRESS C7000 in the color light-production category.
“In the highly competitive and complex world of production print, choosing the most suitable device for your workflow is a tough task,” said David Sweetnam, head of European Research and Lab Services for BLI. “BLI’s comprehensive production test suite makes the task easier by revealing how these devices actually perform in real-world workflows, which is often a far cry from what a vendor’s brochure might lead you to believe.”
BLI’s field evaluations entail three full days of intensive testing during which tens of thousands of impressions are printed—from 30,000 to more than 150,000, depending on the model. Devices are tested for productivity with coated and uncoated media in a wide range of weights and sizes and using various finishing options, simulating a wide variety of real-world job scenarios. BLI technicians evaluate image quality, including production of halftones, text and fine lines, plus density levels, variations in density, and color drift over the course of a 1,000-page print run. The results provide buyers with invaluable advice on best practices—pre-flight and in-flight—for achieving optimum  output and productivity. BLI also assesses media-handling capabilities in terms of the paper sizes, weights and capacities supported, media catalog integration, and inline finishing options available. In addition, the test includes an assessment of ease of use for setting up, submitting and managing jobs; loading paper and toner; switching out operator-replaceable components; and removing misfeeds.  
Having generated more than 22 million impressions on production devices from the leading vendors over several years—both in the lab and in the field—BLI’s production tests have revealed what separates the best from the rest. It is the top performer in each category that BLI recognizes today with its first annual PRO Awards.
BLI’s 2012 PRO Award winners are:
Ricoh Americas Corporation
Ricoh Pro C901 
(also sold under  the Lanier, Savin, Nashuatecand Rex-Rotary brand names)
Outstanding Color Mid-Volume Production Device
Konica Minolta Business Solutions U.S.A., Inc.
bizhub PRESS C7000
(also sold  as the Develop ineo+ 7000)
Outstanding Color Light Production Device
Ricoh Pro C901 Delivers High-Quality Prints and Outstanding Productivity
BLI’s 2012 PRO Award for “Outstanding Color Mid-Volume Production Device” goes to the Ricoh Pro C901, as tested with the E-41A EFI Fiery controller during its 34,844-impression test.
“There’s no doubt that a stand-out feature of the Ricoh Pro C901 is its productivity,” said Sweetnam. “In BLI’s extensive range of tests it consistently delivered on the promise of its class-leading  90-ppm rated speed across its full supported media range, and proved that it runs even faster with A3 and oversized media, delivering a throughput duplex speed of 50 sheets per minute (equivalent to 100 A4 2-up impressions per minute). Results were equally impressive in BLI’s hour-long productivity tests, which take into account the impact on overall productivity of device calibration routines, where the Pro C901 delivered a very high 97.8% of its engine speed in duplex with A4 paper, and an impressive 45-ppm SRA3 duplexed sheet throughput speed, which would result in 1,660 extra billable SRA3 clicks over an eight-hour shift compared with the next-fastest rival tested.”
Image quality is another key strength of the Ricoh Pro C901 that led to its selection as a PRO Award winner. Notably, the device is one of just a few production models tested to have earned  a five-star rating for text output, which was crisp and fully formed in both serif and sans-serif fonts down to three-point size.  In addition, the device exhibited smooth gradations from light to dark and excellent reproduction of fine lines.
“We found that the Pro C901 is not as dependent on image enhancement adjustments as some competitors are to achieve the desired image quality,” commented Sweetnam, noting that the architectural detail achieved in full-color output was outstanding even using the default 1200-dpi settings. The unit’s output also exhibited excellent color consistency over BLI’s 1,000-page color drift tests, with a mean Delta E drift for the 12 corporate logo colors on BLI’s test document of only 1.5 on coated media and 2.1 on uncoated media.
“In addition to its outstanding productivity and image quality,” added Sweetnam, “the Ricoh Pro C901 features an impressive variety of inline finishing options, including ring binding, perfect binding, square-edge and three-edge-trim booklet production, plus a stacking capacity of up to 10,000 sheets via the dual stacker option.”
“We’re grateful BLI recognized the Ricoh Pro C901 for this honor because it reflects our commitment to innovation and delivering unprecedented value to our customers,” said Jason Dizzine, director of marketing for the Production Printing Business Group at Ricoh Americas Corporation. “With its superior quality, high speeds and state-of-the-art workflow applications, the Ricoh Pro C901 is setting a new standard in digital print quality and productivity.”
Konica Minolta bizhub PRESS C7000 Offers Consistent Color, Efficient Production of Mixed-Media Jobs
The winner of BLI’s PRO Award for “Outstanding Color Light Production Device” is the Konica Minolta bizhub PRESS C7000, as tested with the IC-306 EFI Fiery controller during its 33,121-impression evaluation. “The new image quality technology added to the bizhub PRESS C7000 has certainly paid great dividends,” said Sweetnam. “In fact, this device is the first production unit tested ever to receive BLI’s five-star rating for color consistency, with no peak Delta E drift of more than 3.0 in 12 corporate logo colors over 1,000-page print runs of  BLI’s test document on coated or uncoated media. Solid density was also impressively consistent, with very low density variance when printing BLI’s 100% solid-coverage test suite. Fine lines and text, too, were reproduced at a very high-quality level even in default mode.”
Supporting media up to 13" x 19.2" and duplexing on media weights up to 300 gsm, the Konica Minolta bizhub PRESS C7000 efficiently handles fuser adjustments to offer impressive productivity when producing jobs that include a mix of heavy and lightweight or coated and uncoated media. For example, it delivered a 39.3% speed advantage over the next-fastest competitive device tested when producing a 48-page test document with 300 gsm printed covers.
In addition, the EFI controller delivered very good RIP speeds when printing BLI’s large (1,600-page) PDF job stream, with the device reaching 98.2% of its rated engine speed from first page out. The device is also built very ruggedly, with all paper trays constructed of metal components, rather than the more customary combination of robustly built large-capacity trays and lightweight “office-copier style” trays under the main engine, as found on some rival devices.
“As always, we are gratified to receive recognition from BLI for the performance of our technologies, and receiving a newly established award for the award-winning bizhub PRESS C7000 is even more exciting,” said Kevin Kern, senior vice president of marketing for Konica Minolta Business Solutions U.S.A., Inc.  “Recognizing only the best production devices in such categories as image quality, color consistency, productivity and ease of use, the BLI award for ‘Outstanding Color Light Production Device’ exemplifies how customers can count on Konica Minolta for market-leading performance and productivity from all our solutions.”

About Buyers Laboratory LLC

Buyers Laboratory LLC (BLI) is the world's leading independent provider of analytical information and services to the digital imaging and document management industry. For more than 50 years, buyers have relied on BLI to help them differentiate products’ strengths and weaknesses and make the best purchasing decisions, while industry sales, marketing and product professionals have turned to BLI for insightful competitive intelligence and valued guidance on product development, competitive positioning and sales channel and marketing support.  Using BLI’s Web-based bliQ and Solutions Center services, 40,000 professionals worldwide create extensive side-by-side comparisons of hardware and software solutions for over 15,000 products globally, including comprehensive specifications and the performance results and ratings from BLI’s unparalleled Lab, Solutions and Environmental Test Reports, the result of months of hands-on evaluation in its US and UK labs. The services, also available via mobile devices, include a comprehensive library of BLI’s test reports, an image gallery, hard to find manufacturers’ literature and valuable tools for configuring products, calculating total cost of ownership (TCO) and annual power usage. BLI also offers consulting and private, for-hire testing services that help manufacturers develop and market better products and consumables.
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