The Color LaserJet 9500n printed beautifully but at mediocre speeds. Text stayed crisp down to miniscule font sizes. Color samples looked smooth and realistic. The Phaser 7750DN and the Color LaserJet 5500n, among other printers, outpaced it.
Although its high-yield consumables should save you money over time, the Color LaserJet 9500n's expensive drums -- one for each color -- push its long-term expenses higher. It's still a little cheaper to maintain than the Color LaserJet 5500n, but the Phaser 7750DN is cheaper by several thousand dollars.
If the Color LaserJet 9500n was a little faster or a little cheaper, it would gain more of an edge over the competition. But for the price, the Xerox Phaser 7750DN gets the nod; and as an alternative, the Color LaserJet 5500n betters the 9500n in everything but consumables.
IBM Infoprint Color 1354n
IBM's Infoprint Color 1354n performed nearly identically to its clone, the Lexmark C752n, but the similarity is a mixed blessing. Both printers achieved decent speed and good overall print quality. They offered the same exhaustive documentation and sophisticated MarkVision management software. But IBM's version costs more overall, and HP's Color LaserJet 5500n and Xerox's Phaser 6250N offer stronger packages.
The Infoprint Color 1354n is bulky -- two sets of handholds help you hoist its 105 pounds -- but mostly well designed. Its maximum paper capacity is a high 3,100 sheets with extra-cost trays. The full-width front panel offers easy access to the consumables and the paper path. The panel flexes noticeably when open, however, and its hinge seems flimsy. The printer surprised us by pushing printed pages out the upper-right access door when we left it open by mistake. IBM says this feature is intentional, but it's undocumented -- and the printer reacted by jamming and going offline.
A few problems mar the printer's otherwise incredibly helpful labelling and documentation. Removing the toner cartridges is complicated by the presence of two unlabeled sets of arrows pointing in different directions. You could easily mistake the fuser's release levers for two nearby, nonremovable latches; an illustration in the user's guide makes their differences unclear.
Print quality and speed on the Infoprint 1354n varied. Text pages printed at a moderate pace but looked very good, just a little thick. Graphics pages printed slowly and suffered from banding, a little moiré, and a generally washed-out look.
We don't know why IBM charges a little more for this printer and its consumables than Lexmark does, but considering that it's otherwise identical, it's the lesser value of the two.
Konica Minolta Magicolor 3300 DN
The Magicolor 3300 DN closely resembles both the Brother HL-4200CN and the Xerox Phaser 6250N, but of the three it offers the least polished implementation. Setup went smoothly (after we located a couple of ActiveX controls necessary for the installation -- but oddly missing from Windows Server 2003). Documentation is thorough and well written, but information on the utilities is scattered through multiple volumes, making it hard to know what to install.
The 3300 DN printed inconsistently as well. Text moseyed at a moderate pace, coming out fuzzy and heavy-looking. Color prints came out slowly; and whereas presentation slides looked good, photos looked dark and exhibited moiré. Consumables are pricey, and half-capacity starter cartridges force you to buy your first replacements soon after purchase.