Xerox

GCN LAB REVIEWS

A printer that speaks the language of better images

Xerox Phaser 7500DN takes plain-English instructions to adjust settings

Printers these days are pretty amazing. They can reproduce almost anything you see on your screen with about 90 percent accuracy by using factory default settings. However, getting that last 10 percent correct is often a laborious chore of trial and error.

The Phaser 7500DN changes this by adding natural language settings into the print driver. Using normal, English-language phrases, you can actually configure your documents to come out exactly how you like them. This was possible before with most printers by adjusting the levels of cyan, magenta, yellow and black, but only desperate folks or product reviewers usually experimented with that type of alchemy. Now you don’t have to. If you want your printer to highlight the blue sky or the green trees in an image, you simply tell it just that.

Looking at the Phaser 7500DN as a normal printer first, it’s still excellent. It was able to print our 30-page test text document in 1 minute, 1 second. And it was able to crunch our heavily graphics-laden 30-page test document in 1 minute, 41 seconds. That’s on par with some of the fastest printers we’ve looked at in the lab. In terms of speed, all print engines have reached a plateau in recent years. The twin times of 1:01 for text and 1:41 for color are rarely, if ever, beaten. So the Phaser 7500DN is in the top of the class in terms of speed, without actually pulling ahead of the pack of speedy leaders.

Image quality for the 7500DN trended toward the high side. Its output was one of the best looking we’ve seen for a standard laser printer. Even difficult tasks, such as printing letters over graphics, were done accurately. Photo reflection effects were reproduced perfectly even for dark images printed on standard office paper. And line art came out in strong black and white, without the tint of blue that we have seen with other nonphoto printers.

It’s difficult to imagine the need to tweak the output of the Phaser 7500DN, especially for standard business applications. That's unless, of course, you want your images to look different from how they do on screen or from how they actually appear. If you do, that typically falls into the realm of Photoshop trickery, which is still your best option if you really need to manipulate an image. But the 7500DN goes a long way toward making that step unnecessary as long as you are only playing with the actual image and not adding or subtracting elements.

You can almost always manipulate the print driver of most printers, though at worst, that process is akin to computer programming, and at best, it’s often more or less guesswork to adjust the four basic toner values for prints. Forget all that with the 7500DN. Just tell it what you want.

For example, say you have a photo of a crystal blue lake surrounded by trees, which we did for our test. But it was taken on a hazy day, so everything looks a bit gloomy. No problem. We simply went into the print drivers area in the control panel and selected properties for the 7500DN. Then from the color management tab, we opened a new window in which we could change the output. Using the gloomy lake as an example, I first told it to enhance all foliage to be slightly more green. This was done using four drop-down menus. Then I created a rule and printed again. The lake still looked gloomy, but the trees seemed really healthy. Still, I had more work to do.

Next, I told it to make all blues much more blue, and I added that rule in with my tree configuration. Suddenly the lake popped, and the sky got a bit more inviting as well.

Finally, I actually told it to make the picture sunnier, which was one of the options.

When all those rules were put in play, my lake came out looking like a much more inviting place, the kind where you would want to put up a volleyball net and take off your shoes — not the gloomy early spring drizzle-soaked landscape captured in the actual photo. So much for truth in advertising, I guess. But using English to tell a printer how to display an image is pretty cool.

The only thing I wish the 7500DN driver had was a preview window. There is a generic graphic that tries to show you how your rule will affect a picture, but it would be much better if you could see the changes simulated over your actual print. Otherwise, there is still some trial and error involved as you print to see how well the 7500DN interprets your wishes. If it had a preview window, you would be getting into the realm of a true photo editor. That might be a bit much to hope for in a print driver. But having seen the innovative future the 7500DN offers, I want more. This technology is better than anything else out there, but probably only scratches the surface of what’s actually possible.

Xerox, www.xerox.com/office

Xerox Phaser 7500DN

Pros: Best ease-of-use printer score ever; great quality; fast.
Cons: A bit expensive.
Performance: A
Ease Of Use: A+
Features: A
Value: A-
Government Price: $3,299
Reviewer’s Choice

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