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Xerox Phaser 6500DN review

Verdict

A compact A4 colour laser with superb output quality, but its running costs are unacceptably high

Review Date: 4 Oct 2011

Reviewed By: Dave Mitchell

Price when reviewed: £199 (£239 inc VAT)

Overall Rating
4 stars out of 6

Features & Design
4 stars out of 6

Value for Money
2 stars out of 6

Performance
5 stars out of 6

Colour printing for small businesses is becoming ever more affordable, and Xerox’s latest 6500 family of lasers aims to make it even cheaper. The 6500DN costs less than £200 but delivers speeds of 23ppm for both colour and mono, is network ready and includes a duplex unit as standard.

The printer comes with a 250-sheet input tray and capacity can be doubled with an extra tray, costing around £147. The 6500DN features 256MB of memory and an extra 512MB costs a reasonable £104.

We found the claimed print speeds are achievable, although this depends on the document content. Our basic 25-page Word document was delivered at an average of 23ppm in both standard and enhanced driver modes.

The printer had no problems with our 24-page DTP-style test print in standard mode. Its large collection of colour graphics, charts and photos was briskly dispatched at a rate of 23ppm. Selecting the enhanced modes cut print speed in half, though, with the printer frequently pausing when handling full-page colour photographs.

Print quality is exceptionally good, with razor-sharp text across a wide range of font sizes, and mono photos revealing high levels of detail. Colour quality is remarkable, too, with our test photos showing real depth and detail, with minor banding noticeable only in large areas of single colours.

Xerox Phaser 6500DN

The PC Pro colour performance chart showed perfect transitions across complex colour fades, with no noticeable stepping. The only negative we could discern was that grey shades using equal mixes of cyan, yellow and magenta toner revealed a slight over-enthusiasm for magenta. This gave some mono photos a slight pink tinge.

More serious than this small gripe, however, are the running costs. Output quality for the 6500DN may be great, but you’ll pay heavily for the privilege. Standard cyan, yellow and magenta toner cartridges last for only 1,000 pages at 5% coverage, and cost £47 each. Add in £79 for the 3,000-page black cartridge and you’re paying a staggering 17p per colour page.

The 2,500-page high-yield colour cartridges reduce colour costs to 12.5p per page, but the four-colour value packs don’t make any real difference, as you save only about £6 overall. Even worse, the price of the black cartridge equates to 2.6p for a mono page.

There isn’t much you can do to control printing; the Phaser’s web interface only lets you apply an IP filter list limiting which systems can access the printer. No printer management utilities are provided, so you can’t decide at the user level who can print in mono or colour.

In fact, the only utility you get with the printer is Xerox’s PrintingScout. This provides quick access to the printer’s web management interface, and a simple status utility that pops up for each print job and keeps you posted on toner levels.

The Xerox Phaser 6500DN delivers the best colour quality we’ve yet seen for a sub-£200 business laser printer, and for most documents the quoted print speeds are achievable. However, don’t be swayed by the low initial outlay: running costs for this printer are beyond the pale.

Author: Dave Mitchell

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