So-solid crew

Introduction

Years ago, when colour printing was a slow and expensive luxury, a company called Tektronix had a unique technology that made colour printing faster and more affordable. Now, Tektronix has been incorporated into Xerox – but that unique solid-ink technology lives on in the new Phaser 8200. If, however, you prefer the more-traditional laser technology for colour prints, the Phaser 6200 is the latest colour laser from Xerox. Solid ink seemed like the way to go in office colour-printing five years ago. It easily outpaced the slow laser printers with its single-pass technology, producing the printed image in one go. The technology used a wax-based ink that gave luxurious, rich colour – on any paper. For quality, it couldn’t be beat – but time has passed, and solid-ink is struggling to keep up. Over the past year or two, many single-pass laser printers have emerged, offering up to 16 pages per minute (ppm) in full colour. The speed advantage has been lost to the newer laser technology, but the quality is still at the highest level. However, the reasons for spending a little extra on a solid-ink printer are diminishing. Over the last few years, laser pre-production has greatly improved, and while it still can’t match the best solid-ink output, it’s much closer than ever before.Xerox has made a smart decision. It has relegated the solid-ink printer to entry-level status by dropping the price massively. You can get the network version of the new Phaser 8200 for just £1,610. This is at least £500 cheaper than its equivalent previous model – and the DP version is more than £1,300 cheaper. The problem that required the solid-ink range to be re-evaluated is that speed is directly linked to quality. The fast-mode on the 8200 gives a passable, if rather light, coloured output. In its highest-quality mode, the output is unrivalled – but slow. For design-types, waiting a little longer for top-quality output isn’t unreasonable – but in an office, speed is king. Now that the Phaser 8200 is being pitched as a budget colour printer for the office, it’s a great buy for designers that want top quality, and have time to wait for it. In normal mode, the output is ideal for everyday use in the office or the studio. One slight difference between this and older solid-ink printers in the range is the demise of the free black-ink offer. In order to encourage people to use the colour printer, Tektronix, and then Xerox, offered free black ink. Despite the ending of this offer for the new model, the savings made will certainly keep users in black ink for a long time. If the need for speed outweighs the desire for high-quality output, then a colour laser is the right solution. The Phaser 6200 is the latest in the colour laser line-up from Xerox. It offers 16ppm performance, at a very reasonable £2,010 – or £2,320 for the duplex model. The first-colour-page speed was measured at 64 seconds – not the fastest we’ve seen, but only about 20 seconds off the best times. Being a single-pass printer, the 16ppm applies to colour and mono pages, though the first mono page is much quicker to output because there’s less information to process.
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