capsule review

Xerox Phaser 4500N

At a Glance
  • Xerox PHASER 4500 LASER 35PPM 1200X1200DPI 64MB ENET USB 110V

    PCWorld Rating

    A snap to install on our network, this model can print both text and graphics fast enough to please most workgroups.

Xerox Phaser 4500/N
Photograph: Rick Rizner

At $1200, the Xerox Phaser 4500N will appeal most to large workgroups that run through a lot of paper.

Xerox put a lot of thought into the usability of this printer. The sturdy, gray unit's styling is boxy but functional, with a backlit LCD screen that displays several lines of text and occasionally even diagrams (for example, to explain how to clear a paper jam). Pressing the information button (labeled with the international "i" sign) elicits additional help at any stage.

The primary paper tray holds a maximum of 550 sheets, while a proper second drawer (not just a fold-out tray) can accommodate 150 sheets more. Both paper trays can hold alternative media, such as envelopes. The printer automatically detects many regular paper sizes; setting up others, including envelopes, from the control panel is easy. You can stack one or two optional 550-sheet drawers (priced at $249 each) under the printer, raising the maximum total paper input to 1800 sheets. Options for double-sided printing ($329) and output stacking ($249) are available as well.

The Xerox is the fastest workgroup printer in our current crop, churning out text at a respectable 25.1 pages per minute and graphics at 13.8 ppm. Unfortunately, print quality, though passable at first blush, is imperfect on closer examination. The 4500N is stronger on text (which is more likely to be important in most offices) than on graphics. Fine text was spotty, solid characters were too light, and bottom edges often looked fuzzy. A few random white dots appeared in areas that should have been black. Line art, meanwhile, was blotchy. Our grayscale image showed good contrast and detail in some areas, but our testers noticed fine moire patterns in textures and gritty dithering in places that should have had continuous tones.

The 4500N uses a single toner-and-drum cartridge that is rated to print up to 18,000 pages at 5 percent coverage. The cartridge's $230 price tag translates into a very reasonable cost per page.

Xerox's nicely produced documentation reflects the company's years of experience in producing office equipment. A neat color Setup Guide gets you started, and a color Quick Reference Guide explains such basics as handling paper, fixing paper jams, and ordering supplies. It refers you to the right places in the control panel's menus or in the User Documentation CD-ROM for more details. The CD even provides videos and animations that demonstrate complex procedures. The included plastic pouch conveniently attaches the Quick Reference Guide and the CD to the printer.

Installing the 4500N on our PC World Test Center network was a pleasure. Xerox's Walk-up Technology let us start the setup on our PC server, walk to the printer, and tap a few buttons on the control panel to identify the printer. The installation software did the rest, even supplying a reasonable default name for the printer. My client PC found the printer and downloaded the driver at once.

Network administrators will love the included set of printer management utilities, with features such as printer configuration and usage analysis. An embedded Web server lets you check the printer's status from your desktop browser. You can even set the printer to e-mail an administrator when supplies run low or when something malfunctions.

Though the Xerox Phaser 4500N installs easily, is economical to run, and prints text and graphics swiftly, its mediocre print quality undercuts its usefulness.

Paul Jasper

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At a Glance
  • PCWorld Rating

    A snap to install on our network, this model can print both text and graphics fast enough to please most workgroups.

    Pros

    • Prints text and graphics swiftly
    • Economical to run

    Cons

    • Bottom edges of text often looked fuzzy
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