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The Phaser 8560/8580 family


June 23, 2010 by Luke Marchie

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Sum-up: Solid ink printers with good speed and acceptable consumables costs.

The Phaser 8560 family is one of the latest product offerings in Xerox’s constantly evolving line of solid ink printers. Solid ink printers (Xerox is the only company selling office printers with this technology) have little to do with the more common thermal ink jet printers of the small or home office. Instead, solid ink is a technology in office printing competing with laser and LED machines. We consider it a laser-class technology, and it compares favorably with standard color lasers.

Resolution: Solid ink printers offer what we consider to be excellent image quality. Even the default settings seem to produce pretty accurate color renderings, though this print technology is not intended for those who need exact color matching (unlike, say, Xerox’s own Phaser 7760 series).

These printers work at a variety of speeds, depending on resolution. As we have said, resolution is not the biggest issue when dealing with color quality, especially given the way a solid ink jet deposits ink on the page. On the other hand, if you demand extremely crisp black-and-white type, you’ll have to run at higher than the standard resolution.

This generation of solid ink printers offers very respectable speeds. The 8560 engines are rated for up to 30ppm, both in color and in black-and-white. Numbers don’t tell the complete story here -30ppm are achieved in the “fast” color mode, which is 225 x 400dpi. The default mode is “enhanced” mode, which is 1,200dpi interpolated. On the 8560 printers, that runs at 16ppm, a bit over half the speed of “fast” mode. 2010-EC-logo

In addition, the Phaser 8560 models have two other modes. The “standard” mode prints at 300 x 450dpi at a speed of 24ppm. The “photo” mode has an interpolated resolution of 2,400dpi and prints at 10ppm.

You select a printing mode (other than the default) as an option in the print dialog box. Because solid ink technology is so different from toner, it is hard to make exact comparisons between these resolutions and those of other color printers in this guide. To our eyes, the “enhanced” mode is excellent for demanding design work. The standard resolution sounds low compared with the 1,200dpi claimed by some rivals, but we find that the resolution is totally acceptable, even in “standard” mode. Likewise, “fast mode” resolution (30ppm) is totally acceptable for drafts, memos, and most other internal documents. Again, this is more an issue about type rather than graphics. And while photo-quality printing is not very fast, it runs circles around the real-life photo printing speeds on most regular (liquid) ink jet printers.

Features: These models come with powerful 600MHz processors, ensuring that they will handle images fast enough to keep the engine cranking out pages. Indeed, this printer series is very respectable for everyday black-and-white office printing as well, especially because it is less expensive for printing in black than many rivals.

The Phaser 8560 printers are also very easy to maintain. For example, when you have to change consumables, you need only open the top cover of the machine and slide in blocks of ink that look and feel like crayons. The printer melts those “crayons” and sprays the melted extract onto the paper.

You can’t even make a mistake, as each of the four colors has a unique shape that only fits in the appropriate slot. Replacing supplies on some color printers can be a daunting task, but not on these models.

Per-page prices are moderate and compare well to similar small-workgroup color lasers. An average color page costs about 10.8¢, and a black-and-white page costs 2¢. These prices are for the default resolution, the so-called “enhanced” mode. Costs for “standard” and “fast” modes, since they lay down less ink, are less expensive.

Versions: There are four Phaser 8560 models. All of them come with both USB and Ethernet ports, as well as optional Wi-Fi. They are:

  • The Phaser 8560N (street price $699), which comes with 256MB of memory, upgradeable to 1GB, and 625 sheets of standard paper input.
  • The Phaser 8560DN (street price $899), which adds duplexing.
  • The Phaser 8560DT (at $1,399), which has 512MB of memory upgradeable to 1GB and comes with 1,150 sheets of input.
  • The Phaser 8560DX (at $1,999), which comes with 1,675 sheets of input and a hard disk standard.

Each model starts with a 100-sheet bypass and a 525-sheet standard paper tray. Second and third 525-sheet paper trays are available (optional on the lower-end models). The maximum input capacity for the models is 1,675 sheets. The bypass can handle up to 80lb. cover stock, which is heavier stock than 110lb. index. Output capacity is a simple 250-sheet tray.

PostScript and PCL are standard features on all models. Direct PDF printing requires a hard disk, which is standard on the 8560DX.

When it comes to pricing, the Phaser 8560 series is very competitive with its laser and LED counterparts at the low end of the midrange level of the market. But the Phaser 8560 family is really in a category by itself.

One additional plus, these machines are small in dimension and weight, unlike some laser competitors.

However, the Phaser 8560 models are not intended for really high-volume use. Xerox rates them for 85,000 pages per month, but the small output tray is a clear indication that this printer series is better suited for a moderate flow of work. The warm-up time may be an issue as well. It’s considerably longer than that for LED and laser, but this should be a once-a-day issue. The first-page-out time once the machine is warmed up (around 5 seconds in both color and black-and-white) is outstanding.

These machines are capable of producing very good color output and good black-and-white documents as well. They are easy to use and can be pretty fast when it comes to full-color output, though not at the highest resolution. Keep in mind, however, that this series does not have the paper-handling capability to be used in place of a departmental laser printer.

If you plan on printing heavier volume, you should look at the Phaser 8860DN below. But all things told, we really like the Phaser 8560 family. We find its attractive pricing, small footprint, quiet operation, and reasonable sticker prices to be excellent features – so excellent, in fact, that the 8560 family earns our Editor’s Choice Award for a third year.

Xerox Phaser 8560N

Xerox Phaser 8560DN

Xerox Phaser 8560DT

Xerox Phaser 8560DX

30ppm color (“fast” mode)

30ppm black & white (“fast” mode)

Lexmark C734 and C736


November 9, 2009 by Luke Marchie

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These new models, the Lexmark C730 Series, are part of an overall upgrade in Lexmark’s whole printer and printer-multifunctional line with a comprehensive new design that offers both obvious and subtle improvements.

The C734 models run at 30ppm in both black-and-white and color, while the C736 models run at 35ppm in both. These are far faster than most comparably priced color printers. And they add some very nice new features that go beyond earlier generations of Lexmark machines.

The members of the C734 family are:

  • The C734n, which offers standard Ethernet ($699).
  • The C734dn, which adds automatic duplexing ($899).
  • The C734dw, which adds Wi-Fi connectivity ($999).
  • The C734dtn, which adds a 550-sheet paper drawer to the C734dn configuration ($1,149).

The C736 family consists of:

  • The C736n, which offers standard Ethernet ($899).
  • The C736dn, which adds automatic duplexing ($1,149).
  • The C736dtn, which adds a 550-sheet paper drawer ($1,399).

All of these models are network-ready out of the box. USB connectivity is also standard for all models, and Wi-Fi is optional on all of the C734 and C736 models but the C734dw, where it is standard. Lexmark also offers serial, parallel, IPDS, and gigabit Ethernet options. There are options for barcoding and forms storage as well.

All models print at true resolutions up to 1,200 dpi. Likewise, all models start with 256MB of memory that you can upgrade to 1,280MB, and all have an optional 80GB hard disk drive. There’s a standard USB port for flash drives, so you can print directly from the flash drive. There’s also a PictBridge port. PostScript and PCL are standard. PDF, TIFF, JPEG, and XPS files can also be output.

The C734 models are powered by a 600MHz processor. First-page-out time is under 9.5 seconds, and under 12 second when in Power Saver mode. The monthly duty cycle is 85,000 pages, with a recommended range between 1,500 and 9,200 pages.

The C736 models come with a 900MHz processor. First-page-out time is a bit faster at 9 seconds, and has the same under 12 seconds speed in Power Saver mode. The monthly duty cycle is also 85,000 pages, but with a recommended range between 2,500 and 10,000 pages.

Paper handling is also solid. For all models (except the dtn ones), you start with a 550-sheet drawer and a 100-sheet bypass. The dtn models have two 550-sheet drawers. But you have the option of adding far more. With the C734 models you can add up to three more 550-sheet drawers. You can also add a 2,000-sheet stacker (which replaces one of the drawers). The C736 family is the same, but you can add one additional 550-sheet drawer beyond the C734 family. You can place the whole printer stack on a roll-away caster.

The C730 Series also allows for printing banner paper, up to 36″ on the C734 models and up to 48″ on the C736 models. In a nice design touch, automatic duplexing (standard on all but the n models) is built into the machine and adds no extra height to the stack.

Standard output is 300 sheets. That is the one weak point in these models: with an enormous wealth of input capacity, you’ll still have to empty the output tray frequently.

In terms of ergonomic features, Lexmark has upgraded the handles on the paper drawers, making them easier to manipulate. The 4-line backlit LCD panel is tiltable for easier access and features an animated help display. Lexmark has also reduced noise levels and offers a (somewhat slower) Quiet Mode with low decibel levels along with an already quiet idle mode. Firmware can be upgraded by a service tech using the USB flash interface.

Lexmark has reduced energy consumption on these models, in part due to the Instant Warm Up fuser that allows for fast recovery from Power Saver mode. Lexmark also notes that it has reduced excess packaging, has a comprehensive Return Program, and offers longer-life supplies than comparable competitive models.

Supplies for the C734 models consist of a set of four photoconductors and four toner cartridges. The black cartridge is rated for 8,000 pages, while the color cartridges are rated at 6,000 pages. The cost per page is 2.3¢ for black, which is very good in this market segment, and 12.9¢ in color, a bit on the high side. For the C736 family, you have the option of high-capacity toner cartridges: 12,000 pages for black and 10,000 pages for color. That ends up costing 2.2¢ in black and 12.1¢ in color.

Given all the features, it’s hard to imagine that these printers are just in the middle of the Lexmark color printer lineup and that most of the models cost under $1,000. The inclusion of PostScript is significant in this market segment, their speed is impressive, and the inclusion of duplexing on most of the models is notable. All of this earns them our Editor’s Choice Award.

Sum-up: Lexmark’s feature-laden color printers, aimed at small-to-midsize workgroups.


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