Laser quest

What constitutes a good printer depends on its intended use. Graphics users worth their salt should require proofing features, such as bundled colour-profile creation software, such as ColourMatch, which comes with top-end Xante models. Those working in offices, however, are unlikely to use this. The most obvious way to divide the 20 printers on test was to split the A4 models from the A3 ones. Again, depending on your needs either may be suitable, but if speed is high on your list of priorities then A3 has the edge: A3 printers are faster because they can print A4 pages two at a time. A3 models are more likely to appeal to graphics users, which explains why graphics-focused printers tend to be A3 models. Quality, obviously, is important to all users - whether A4 or A3 - but spot-on colour accuracy is crucial when using printers for proofing. The three leading contenders for the A3 graphics printer Editors' Choice are the Xerox 7700, Xanté CL30, and - last year's winner - the Xanté ColorLaser 21. The 7700 is an excellent printer, and, although it has fallen in price by £1,000 in the past year, it remains comparatively expensive. The ColorLaser 21 has shed an amazing £2,000 from its original price, and is still £2,000 cheaper than the Xerox model. The Editors' Choice, Graphics A3 though, goes to the new Xanté CL30, which applies the same graphics features to the latest LED print-engine with great results. Xerox has a machine with the same engine (the Phaser 7300) but it's pitched at the office market, and so lacks comparable graphics features. Its super-fast performance earns it Editors' Choice office A3. None of the A4 models are aimed at the graphics market, although most could do a reasonable job. choosing a model that stands out was difficult, because they offer similar quality and capabilities. However, the Lexmark C750n offers the best bang for your buck - boasting both fast output and decent quality. Although there exist plenty of cheaper 16-page-per-minute printers, the Lexmark is capable of outputting over 20 pages per minute, and this gives it the edge on speed, so it is Editors' Choice A4. A new sub-category has emerged in the world of colour laser printers, in the form of budget A4 printers. These are typically 4-page-per-minute printers, so are pretty slow but they still represent good value for the less-demanding user. The HP 2500n is Editors' Choice Budget A4 because it performs well without any of the quirks of the other models.
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