Xerox Phaser 6180/N
At a Glance
The $499 (as of March 7, 2007) Xerox Phaser 6180/N bears a distinct resemblance to the Dell Laser Printer 3110cn. Both models have the same towerlike design that leaves a very small footprint, and both have a single-pass vertical paper path. They're essentially the same printer, but the quality of Xerox's support and documentation may lead you to prefer the 6180/N.
Like the 3110cn, the 6180/N has a 250-sheet main paper drawer in the base and a 150-sheet manual tray that you can access by folding down a huge and ugly panel at the front of the printer. The manual tray feeds its pages through the front of the main paper drawer. Envelopes feed only from the manual tray, where you can stack them up to 15mm high. You can increase the printer's maximum paper capacity to 950 sheets by adding an optional 550-sheet drawer for $399 (Dell charges just $229 for its optional 550-sheet drawer). You can also add a duplexer for double-sided printing for $199 (Dell's equivalent carries the same price).
The 6180/N supports both PCL and PostScript printing. We followed Xerox's instructions to test speed and quality using the PostScript driver. Text printed at a speedy 23.7 pages per minute, which is close to the Dell's rate of 25.3 ppm. In our other tests, it was slightly faster than the Dell (but below recent averages) at 1.9 ppm for color images on plain paper and 0.6 ppm for photos on glossy presentation paper.
Its print output quality was somewhat mixed--and slightly worse than the Dell's. Though text had a slate-gray appearance, it was otherwise sharp and nicely formed. The ink had a glossy sheen, which some people prefer but others find distracting. Line art showed slight interference patterns in blocks of closely spaced lines; we didn't detect any banding. Our grayscale sample came out too dark, with little contrast and no detail in shadows. Color images printed on plain paper looked grainy, and we even saw some halo artifacts, where edges had been oversharpened. Photos printed on glossy paper looked a bit washed out; as a result, darker details such as facial features appeared stamped over.
The front of the 6180/N folds down to reveal the toner cartridges, which stack one above the other. The control panel features a two-line backlit LCD for easy setup.
The 6180/N comes with toner cartridges rated for 3000 black pages and 2000 color pages. Xerox charges more than Dell for its replacement cartridges: $190 for an 8000-page black cartridge, and $196 each for the three color cartridge. The fuser, transfer unit, and feed roller will need less frequent replacement, and the warranty covers those for the first year. During that period, your estimated costs per page are 2.4 cents for each black-and-white page and 12.2 cents for each color page. Those numbers are close to the averages for color lasers we've tested recently, but significantly higher than for the Dell model.
As usual, Xerox's documentation is excellent, and the company includes a plastic pouch for attaching the Quick Use Guide to the side of the printer.
The Xerox Phaser 6180/N makes a good printer for a small office that produces mostly text output, but the similar Dell Laser Printer 3110cn has lower running costs and a less-expensive paper capacity upgrade.