Ricoh and Xerox deliver fast color in a big way
Pricey and speedy models break the tabloid barrierFollow @infoworld
As an admin, if you already use Xerox CentreWare for managing a fleet of Xerox printers, the Phaser 7400DN will drop right into place; if not, an internal Web site provides a wealth of security and admin features, including a job-accounting database and fine-grained control over which control-panel features to lock or leave accessible. You can set the printer to sleep and wake up at specific times each day or tell it to track its own usage patterns and figure out the most efficient schedule.
Print quality is where the Xerox stumbles, and there only a bit. It prints text in an attractive solid black, but with a hint of soft focus or fuzziness. At the same time, the curves and diagonals of letters show a slight choppiness, although serifs and other details come through well. Color ramps show slight crosshatching but transition smoothly from light to dark shades; however, diagonal lines look wavy because they are not cleanly defined. Also, in my tests, I noticed some trapping problems that left blank spaces between abutting blocks of solid color. My grayscale test photo seemed tonally flat and had moire patterns but preserved fine detail, while my color test photo looked dotty and lacked detail.
Xerox’s Phaser 7400DN fits into this competitive environment at the low end of the cost spectrum: Its $3,349 price tag ($4,347 fully configured) undersells not only Ricoh’s CL7300D but also the Lexmark C920dn and Oki C9600hdn, equivalently equipped models from our Oct. 3 review. And although Ricoh’s consumables cost much less over time, Lexmark’s and Oki’s cost somewhat more.
Xerox, however, doesn’t compensate by delivering an underperforming machine. Its 27.4-ppm text-printing speed beats both the Ricoh and Lexmark, although not the Oki; its 8.5-ppm graphics-printing speed takes first place.
Which big printer for you?
Either printer is a fine machine but a big investment, and the differences between them are subtle. The Xerox Phaser 7400DN performs somewhat better, especially on graphics, whereas the Ricoh Aficio CL7300D has a slight edge on print quality. The Xerox costs less to purchase, but its operating costs add up faster. If purchase cost matters more than speed, look at Ricoh’s slightly slower and much less expensive Aficio CL7200.
The PC World Test Center contributed methodology, staff, and resources to this project.