New Phaser 860 is one smart cookie with great color ink

New Phaser 860 is one smart cookie with great color ink


Phaser 860


Xerox Corp.; Stamford, Conn.;

tel. 203-968-3000

Price: $2,399 base price; $3,399 as tested with 128M of memory, Ethernet card and two-sided printing

+Beautiful print quality

+Printer on when you need it

+Ink more stable than in Phaser 850

Printer is slow to power up from a cold start, but it learns usage patterns and in a few weeks it starts work when you do

At the beginning of this year the Xerox Phaser 850 solid-ink printer was one of the GCN Lab's favorite products [GCN, Jan. 8, Page 36]. It went on to win an award as one of the best new products exhibited at the FOSE 2001 trade show.

At first glance, the new Phaser 860 looks identical and does double-sided printing in vivid color, just like its predecessor. The lab staff asked Xerox engineers what improvements they had made.

They said they fixed a couple of weak areas in the 850. Their first improvement was to the ink, and the second was adding artificial intelligence to compensate for the Phaser's long start-up and standby times.

The new solid ink looks similar but is more stable after molding, the engineers said. The 850's waxlike ink produced colors far brighter than most toners could achieve, but it was somewhat prone to smearing under pressure.

The new 860 ink won't come off on the glass of copy machines. It resists smearing even if rubbed hard by a pencil eraser'not as resistant as ordinary toner, but far more so than before.

And no, you can't load leftover 850 inks into an 860 printer or vice versa. The ink cakes have different shapes that won't fit the grooves of the wrong printer. Furthermore, Xerox engineers said the inks melt at different temperatures, so if you force an old cake into the new printer, or vice versa, you'll have problems.

Powering up the 850 used to take five minutes or more from a cold start, and almost as long from standby mode. The 860 just about halves that wait time, though several minutes is still too long. To combat this, Xerox made the 860 smarter.

Ready when you are

It remembers usage patterns. If you turn the printer on at 9 a.m. starting on Monday, you'll find that in the second week it will fire up all by itself at 8:55 a.m. to be ready to go when you are. It even remembers holidays and downtime.

Here's how it works. The first week the 860 stores a pattern. The second week it mimics what happened the first week. If the usage pattern is the same the second week, it will continue on that course for the next two weeks. But if the pattern stays the same for three weeks and then suddenly changes, the 860 will wait out three full weeks of the new pattern before it alters its start-up time.

That means you can change the pattern for up to two weeks, for example over holiday breaks, and the printer won't keep you waiting when you return to work. So long as your workgroup keeps about the same hours each week, the printer will always be ready.

The Phaser 860 improves on what the lab considered the best just a year ago. Its intelligence and more stable ink make the 860 ideal for any workgroup that produces high-quality presentation graphics.

About the Author

John Breeden II is a freelance technology writer for GCN.


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