The Canon ImageClass LBP236dw is a heavy-duty mono laser printer that does exactly what you need it to, without fuss or muss

The Canon ImageClass LBP236dw is one of a number of desktop mono laser printers that are designed for small-to-midsize offices. It has closely matching specs in terms of size, paper handling, and speed. The Lexmark MS431dw and B3342dw and Canon’s own ImageClass X LBP1238 II printer outperformed most other models by significant margins. However, we found the LBP236dw to be particularly fast when printing on both sides (duplex). Additionally, it has an affordable list price ($299) compared to many other options on the market and delivers acceptable running costs over time. As such, we have updated our Editor’s Choice award from the MS431DW to go with this model instead.

Super Easy to Set Up

The LBP236dw is a lightweight printer that can easily move around and easily fit in small spaces. At 9.8×15.8×14.7 inches, it doesn’t take up much room when it’s set up; however, the depth increases as more paper is loaded onto the multi-purpose tray (up to 100 sheets). The physical setup process involves removing packing materials and connecting the power cord – everything else is ready to go from the moment you receive your machine.

You can download a driver disc from the company’s website when printing with Canon printers. If you are running the latest version of Windows 10 on your computer, Canon’s site will automatically detect this and recommend downloading its proprietary driver. (You can also choose to install a PCL6 or PostScript 3 driver if needed.) The installation process is mostly automated; for example, it allows you to choose between using an Ethernet connection, Wi-Fi network connection, or USB port. You’re also given instructions on connecting your printer when using mobile printing through the Canon Print Business app for iOS and Android devices.

The LBP236dw has the same paper capacity as all the other printers mentioned thus far. It offers a 250-sheet drawer, a 100-sheet multipurpose tray, and automatic duplexing in the base unit. And if you need more space, you can purchase an optional 550-sheet drawer ($199). Canon recommends using it for up to 4,000 pages per month–a lower maximum than what Lexmark recommends for its two printers discussed here. However, this is also closer to how often most people use their printers. Assuming you add an optional drawer to any of these models (which costs $ 199), printing at high volumes would typically require refilling the printer less than once every week on average.

I had trouble setting up the printer because of a lack of clarity in the user manual. For example, on page 9, it states that “The LBP236DW has a USB Type-A port for direct printing from a USB key.” However, this menu option is not present on the control panel’s five-line LCD. This required extensive phone calls to Canon technical support and many hours spent waiting on hold to find out that this feature is only available with the other printer model.

One helpful feature of the LBP236dw is its secure printing. This allows you to send a file to the printer, but it will not print until you enter a PIN at the front panel. By doing this, you avoid the risk of your sensitive documents being seen by other people before you have a chance to print them.

Printers can have different running costs, depending on the cartridge type or inkjet used. The LBP236dw, for example, has a cost per page of 2.25 cents when using the high-capacity cartridge. This is only 0.45 cents more than the lowest price at this writing for mono laser printers with comparable specs. Considering all costs associated with owning and using a printer before deciding – as discussed in How to Save Money on Your Next Printer is important. Although the example given uses inkjets, the same logic applies to laser printers.

Testing the ImageClass LBP236dw: Markedly Speedy for Duplex Printing

Our performance tests for the LBP236dw showed that it was comparable to other printers in terms of speed when printing simplex documents. For 12-page Word text files without the first page, it averaged 41.3 ppm (16 seconds) – essentially matching its 40 ppm rating. The first page out time was 7 seconds, which gave a file speed of 31.3ppm (23 seconds). The only difference between the LBP236dw and other tested printers was FPO time: while all had 7–9 second times within error range, the LBP236dw’s time was slightly faster at 8 seconds.”

The LBP236dw printer performed well in all areas tested, with an average speed of 22.4 ppm for the full business applications suite and within the error range for photo printing. It took 13 seconds on average to print a 4×6-inch photo with this machine.

Rephrase While duplex printing speeds are not typically reported, the test results show that both the Lexmark LBP236dw and the more expensive model, the LBP1238 II, were very slow. Both printers lost approximately half their speed when printing in duplex mode, coming in at 21.2 and 22ppm (31 and 30 seconds), respectively. For the Lexmark machines, Canon’s two models also had faster FPO times- 12 seconds compared to 17 or 18 seconds. Overall print speeds were 23.2 ppm (31 seconds) for Canons versus about 15 ppm (47 to 49 seconds) for Lexmark.

Rephrase There is not much difference in print times among these four printers when printing text documents, but there is for duplex printing. And the longer the document, the more noticeable the difference will be. For files that don’t require much processing time, either Canon printer can handle it well. If you plan on frequently printing long texts double-sided, then one of Canon’s printers will have an advantage over the others.

Mono laser printing produced high-quality output across the board, with all fonts readable at 4 points and most delivering properly spaced, well-formed characters even at 4 points. One heavily stylized font was easily readable at 6 points. The other, harder to render well, was also easily readable at 8 points.

Graphics that are difficult to see because of their gradients or lines may look more like smudges on a black background than smooth transitions. However, dithering patterns (using dots to approximate grayscale) in graphics and photos can be barely visible and will only appear in some images. Photos retain enough detail and subtle shading for brochures or other non-critical uses.

Verdict: This Peppy Laser Won’t Slow You Down

Rephrase There are a number of mono laser printers in the market that can handle basic office printing tasks, but our top pick is the Canon ImageClass LBP236dw. Both of Lexmark’s other models—the B3342dw and MS431dw—have higher running costs than the LBP236dw while also having lower yields for toner cartridges. However, if you print frequently or need to replace your imaging unit (which is not common with Canon printers), then the MS431dw would be better.

Rephrase The LBP236dw is a printer that offers several extra features, such as a 5-inch touch screen. However, it is also more expensive than the LBP1238 II and does not offer any benefits over it other than being slightly faster. The LBP236dw offers the same fast speed for duplex printing, the same paper handling capabilities, and at a lower price, making it our latest Editors’ Choice pick for a workhorse mono laser printer for small to midsize offices or workgroups.

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Title: The Canon ImageClass LBP236dw is a heavy-duty mono laser printer that does exactly what you need it to, without fuss or muss