Xerox Phaser 6180MFP color laser printer

Xerox’s Phaser 6180MFP closely resembles the Dell Multifunction Color Laser Printer 3115cn, but it has a better overall design, faster text printing, and better-looking (though slower) graphics printing. Unfortunately, it also costs more to buy and maintain.

The Phaser 6180MFP’s tested text speed of 28.3 pages per minute (ppm) left even its Dell near-twin in the dust. The results–deep black, precise–were lovely. The Phaser 6180MFP also copies and scans more quickly than the Dell does, and its results are equal or better. Graphic images test the Xerox’s mettle, as it managed just 1.7 ppm printing a small high-resolution color photo. Nevertheless, the output is worth the wait: Colors stay fairly true, and pesky background patterns (which commonly develop when a laser tries to mix colors) are fairly unobtrusive.

The Phaser 6180MFP measures nearly 29 inches tall and occupies a large footprint as well. The space is not wasted: It comes with a 250-sheet input tray and a 300-sheet output tray, as well as a 150-sheet multipurpose tray and a 50-sheet automatic document feeder. Its 550-sheet optional tray comes with a pedestal base so the entire assemblage can stand on the floor; this thoughtful design is expensive, though, priced at US$499. A duplex option is US$199, while a version of the Phaser 6180MFP with duplex included cost US$1149 at press time.

The layout and most of the button labels on the control panel make sense. One confusing arrangement, however, gives the button for going back a step an icon label on the control panel but a word name in the documentation. The four-line monochrome LCD shows toner levels, menu items, and status. Some of the error messages that pop up are hard to decipher–and not all are documented.

A dual-panel front design reveals first the multipurpose tray and then the printer’s engine. The transfer belt is attached to the sturdily supported inner panel, which you must open to replace the consumables. I’m just waiting to drop a cartridge on this major part and damage it.

The real pain with replacing the toner cartridges is the cost. The Phaser 6180MFP comes with standard-size cartridges, specifically a 3000-page black cartridge and three 2000-page color ones. They cost US$90 apiece to replace–an exorbitant 3 cents per page for black and 4.5 cents per page for each color. At best, the higher-yield 8000-page supply costs SU$190 (2.3 cents per page), while the 6000-page color cartridges cost US$186 each (3.3 cents per page, per color).

The Phaser 6180MFP is a well-designed machine with a few notable shortcomings. An office that needs to generate decent graphics should still consider it seriously–it’s the best model we’ve seen so far at that task–but it’s an expensive proposition otherwise.

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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada

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