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.
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)