GCN LAB REVIEW

If you've got the time, Xerox Phaser's prints are worth the wait

Xerox Phaser 6128 MFPThere are two kinds of offices: Type A and Type B. Type A offices have tidy refrigerators and supply closets filled with neatly stacked boxes of pens and paper clips. But they also tend to send a lot of e-mail  messages with subject lines such as “Clean up your mess by the coffee pot!” Type B offices have more clutter and more moss growing in the office fridge. However, they tend to have more interesting discussions in the break room and better holiday parties.

GCN LAB SCORECARD

Xerox Phaser 6128MFP

Pros: Gorgeous color, nice attention to detail, value-priced
Cons: Slow printing, awkward cartridge setup

Features: A
Ease of use: B
Color Accuracy: A+
Text quality: B+
Value: A
Price: $599
30-page black & white text print time: 2:38
30-page color print time: 3:25

GCN Lab home page

The Xerox Phaser 6128MFP is a printer/scanner/fax for Type B offices. Its color accuracy is gorgeous. At $599, it’s about $200 less than comparable MFPs.

However, it is slow. It is decidedly not for the Type A office folks: impatient young executives with fast cars who are working themselves into an early midlife crisis. It’s for a smaller workgroup of people who perhaps listen to public radio -- an easygoing, highly educated group. My guess is that a number of them have cats. These are the people who belong to the Phaser 6128MFP.

The Phaser 6128MFP handled colors, text, details and contrast beautifully. But did I mention it was slow?

To be fair, the Phaser 6128 does not advertise itself as a speedy, large office MFP. Its literature proclaims quite clearly that it handles 16 pages per minute of color, 12 ppm of black and white. That's a leisurely pace by anyone’s standards. It’s designed for small workgroups or even individuals, which is practical because of the relatively modest price.

The Phaser 6128 was fairly easy to set up. We connected the MFP to a Dell OptiPlex GX 280 PC with a 3.2-GHz Intel CPU with 512M. We thought we had snapped all the toner cartridges into place, but we kept getting an error message, “Insert yellow toner cartridge.” It took a call to the help number before we realized that another set of toner cartridges on the side had to be installed. This information was practically hidden on the setup instructions. Once this was straightened out, the setup process went smoothly.

Everything about the 6128MFP was unhurried. It took its time from the moment I turned it on until it printed out an automatic test page: 44 seconds. After it had warmed up, it took 19 seconds to send the first page out from hitting “print.”

Printing a 30-page document of black-and-white text took 2 minutes, 38 seconds. By contrast, all seven of the toner-based MFPs reviewed in the Jan.12, 2009 issue of GCN took less than two minutes to print the same document.

The print quality was good, though, sharp and crisp. It even handled card stock without a hitch.

When we tried a full-color, graphics-heavy, 30-page test file, it took 3 minutes, 25 seconds to print. It also gave off a slightly waxy chemical smell, as if someone was burning crayons.

But the color accuracy was worth the wait. The colors were subtle and true, not cartoony or muddy like some color printers. It picked up the subtleties in our test document, like the reflections in a window and the shadow of an eclipse. It also performed beautifully on some high-contrast photos, showing all the details in both the dark and light areas.

The text over graphics showed a thin white rim around the letters, but this was only revealed when we used a 2X magnifying glass.

The 6128MFP is also evidently participating in a government program that uses tiny yellow dots to track users’ documents, ostensibly to prevent counterfeiting (read about the program here.) Using the same magnifying glass, we spotted the dots in grid patterns.

And on a few pages there were some random dots of out-of-place color, a red dot on a purple shirt, for instance. Again, not something that you would notice unless you were really scouring for imperfections.

The 6129MFP’s flatbed scanner was faster than the printer. It scanned an 8 ½- by 11-inch page of black and white text and saved it as a 150-dpi JPEG file in 9 seconds.

I was especially impressed with the scanner’s grayscale setting. I scanned an old wallet photo of one of my aunts, a Benedictine nun. The photo, taken in the 1950s, shows her in her black-and-white habit, exactly like the ones the nuns wore in “The Sound of Music.” It scanned the 2 ¼-inch by 3 ½-inch photo at 300 dpi in 8 seconds. The quality was amazing. It picked up the tiny pleats in her wimple, the starched collar she wore. The scanner can save images at up to 600 dpi, and an automatic document feeder lets you feed up to 35 pages.

The MFP had some nice usable touches. A graphic on the front dashboard shows you by means of a bar graph how much of each color toner you have left. It also lets you print black and white copies when you run out of color toner. And speaking of color, the Phaser 6128MPF offers a nice shade of green: It’s designed to generate less waste than comparable color laser printers. Of special interest to government customers, it lets users choose a password-protect secure print feature for confidential documents.

If you have trouble understanding why patience is considered a virtue, the Phaser 6128 is not for you. But if you don’t want to spend a lot, don’t mind waiting for something you really want, and are demanding about color accuracy, this is a good choice for you -- and your cats.

Xerox, 1-800-275-9376, www.xerox.com/office

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