Color printers narrow the speed gap
Printers from Lexmark, Oki Printing Solutions, and Xerox approach 36 ppm for color printingFollow @infoworld
The control-panel menus have thoughtful features such as arrow symbols on the LCD that indicate whether to move right or drill down in a menu. You can restore defaults to an individual menu; most printers restore defaults only universally. A help menu provides users with simple guidance such as tricks to avoid paper jams. You can configure how long menus stay open or make the menus accessible only through a password-protected Web page. There's no way to turn off individual menus or features, however.
Other aspects of the control panel confused us. For some menu items, for instance, the OK button toggles a setting instead of opening a submenu or locking in a choice, which can get confusing. During network setup, when we turned off DHCP and AutoIP to set the IP address manually, the machine warned us of a setup conflict but didn't explain the problem -- it had to do with gateway settings and didn't prevent the printer from functioning.
Both the design and the cost of the Phaser 6350DT's consumables are problematic for a high-volume office. The translucent plastic cover for the toner cartridges simply rests on top of the printer. We'd mind this less if the cover didn't also function as the main output tray. If the cover is removed, printed pages fall right on top of the toner cartridges.
Given the toner cartridges' midrange 10,000-page lives, you'll be lifting the cover fairly frequently -- and paying more for the privilege. The Phaser 6350DT ships with toner cartridges holding only 4,000 pages' worth of toner, or less than half a full charge. The imaging unit and transfer mechanism drop effortlessly into their clearly labeled grooves, but wiggling the fuser back into its slot risks bumping -- and thus locking -- the latches that hold it in place.
Options include a 550-sheet feeder for $399 or a dual 550-sheet paper deck for $599. There's also a $499 20GB hard drive to enable PIN-protected printing and other walk-up features. Extending the included one-year on-site warranty to three years costs $599.
How to choose?
The high-speed color printers we reviewed here represent a small sample of a burgeoning category -- look for our roundup of midrange color printers in an upcoming issue. If you print only letter and legal-size pages, forgo tabloid-size models such as the Lexmark C920dn or Oki Printing Solutions C9600hdn; they cost a lot, and their replacement parts also cost more than parts for a normal-size printer. That leaves the Xerox Phaser 6350DT, but its performance in our tests doesn't justify the upcharge for its faster engine. A high-volume office could do as well by pairing a midrange (in speed and price) color printer with a fast monochrome machine.
The PC World Test Center contributed methodology, staff, and resources to this project.