Xerox printer's speed does not make up for its faults

Xerox printer's speed does not make up for its faults

By John Breeden II

GCN Staff



In a market loaded with affordable, top-quality laser printers, the Xerox DocuPrint P8ex falls flat on its print head.

The unit is billed as a personal laser printer, but I have seen ink-jets that perform better, and in color, at a much lower price.

One thing the DocuPrint P8ex has going for it is speed. A few seconds after I sent a print job, it was busily chugging away and printing. It turned out 6 to 8 pages per minute. Unfortunately, speed isn't everything.


The Xerox DocuPrint P8ex grabbed three sheets whenever its paper supply got low.


The first problem I encountered was with the sheet feeder's design. Xerox has tried to conserve desktop space by giving the printer height instead of width. The paper feed stuck up almost vertically, and the default output bin sat at about a 75-degree angle.

The design works for a skyscraper, but imagine a skyscraper in which the elevators don't function correctly. Either the P8ex's paper feed angle was set too high, or the paper intake gears were poorly designed because the printer had trouble grabbing one sheet at a time. When the paper bin got down to 20 or fewer sheets, the printer would grab two or three sheets at once.

The paper grab did not create jams, which would have caused the printer to fail the GCN Lab's tests, but it did lower the score considerably. Often one page of text was printed across two sheets with no indication where the page break should have been. Unless a user feeds one sheet at a time, there is no way to get around this error.







Box Score ''''''''''

DocuPrint P8ex

Personal laser printer


Xerox Corp.; Stamford, Conn.;

tel. 716-423-4828

www.xerox.com

Price: $399

+ Fast printing

' Grabs more than one sheet at a time

' Output not dark enough

' Smelly when operating



The low-capacity print tray filled up quickly. After about 30 pages were deposited, new pages sometimes pushed the old ones out or started an internal jam. If even two users shared the printer, the combination of print-feed problems coupled with the small storage bin was maddening.

Although the P8ex's output was legible, it was too light, an unusual occurrence at 1,200-dot-per-inch resolution. Even a brand-new toner cartridge did not increase the darkness of the text, nor did tweaking the printer's software settings. Documents with colored text were nearly illegible, looking much lighter than black text. Fine print was almost unreadable.

The P8ex created one more problem that might be minor, depending on where it is in an office: It generated a strong smell of burning or rotten eggs, probably from the toner. When the printer was turned on in the lab, people in the lunchroom next door complained about the smell. The odor went away when the printer was turned off.

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