Xerox's Phaser 6128MFP color laser multifunction printer could be a good choice for low-volume users who have exacting color needs. It sells for a nice, low price (US$599 as of April 6, 2009) and produces high-quality output--but it does so slowly, and at a high consumables cost.
The Phaser 6128MFP's greatest strength is its output quality, aside from one notable quirk. Scans and copies looked good, and anything using black toner alone looked great: Printed text and line art were perfectly formed, and our monochrome photo showed depth and good shading. Color images appeared accurate, with impressive textures, contours, and details. Surprisingly, however, our unit struggled with printing straight edges in color: whether it was the side of a photograph or a plain bar of color, the edge was wavy. Xerox advised us to run a number of specific calibration routines; these lessened but did not eliminate the problem.
Unfortunately, this Phaser's attractive output emerged slowly. Xerox claims modest print speeds of 16 pages per minute for black text and 12 ppm for color graphics, but in our tests it fell well short of those speeds, managing 12.9 ppm for text and 3.5 ppm for color. Copy and scan speeds were slower than average, too. On the other hand, regardless of what the MFP is doing, it does it with impressively little noise.
Because of its sluggish performance, the Phaser 6128MFP is best suited for light use. The main paper tray holds 250 sheets, and you can't add further capacity. The tray feels slightly flimsy, especially when it's extended for legal paper. Instead of including a multipurpose tray, Xerox equips the Phaser 6128MFP with a manual-feed slot. Duplexing is manual, too. The automatic document feeder (ADF) can hold up to 35 pages for copying or scanning. The control panel, which features a four-line monochrome LCD, can be confusing because buttons aren't segregated by function. The toner cartridges come out in a single, weighty stack that you must lift over the exposed transfer belt. The thumbscrews that release the stack are easy to see but not easy to figure out, and one of them fell out during our testing.
The Phaser 6128MFP's expensive toner is its biggest drawback. It ships with relatively puny, 1000-page starter supplies for all four colors--so you'll have to buy replacements sooner rather than later. A 3100-page black toner cartridge costs $100 (that works out to approximately 3.2 cents per page), and each of the 2500-page color cartridges costs $110 (or 4.4 cents per color per page); thus a four-color page costs about 16.4 cents. That's a little better overall than the similarly priced HP Color LaserJet CM2320nf, but the Brother MFC-9450CDN is more economical.
In PC World's most recent <link>reliability and service survey</link>, Xerox earned an average service score and a below-average reliability score. Still, no other color laser MFP in Phaser 6128MFP's price range can match its excellent output. If you need more speed or better options, check out this model's higher-end cousin, the Xerox Phaser 6180MFP.
This story, "Xerox Phaser 6128MFP Color Laser MFP" was originally published by PCWorld.
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