Xerox Phaser 6010
If you want a personal or small-office color laser printer that performs well, is easy to use, and won't take up much space, the $299 Xerox Phaser 6010 certainly belongs on your short list. If you want something that's affordable in the long term, however, look elsewhere: Toner costs for the Phaser 6010, especially its colors, are the highest we've seen in a while. Users who print fairly little might feel the pinch less keenly.
The Phaser 6010 is compact and simple to use. Even its printing technology is simple: A stationary LED array, rather than a moving laser, creates the images. Paper handling consists of a 150-sheet front input (really a foldout door with width and length guides), a ten-sheet manual feed tray directly above it, and a 100-sheet top output tray. Duplexing (two-sided printing) is, unfortunately, only manual on the PC, and it isn't available on the Mac at all. A side panel opens to reveal the four keyed toner supplies. USB and ethernet connections are available.
The control panel is straightforward, consisting of a two-line, 16-character monochrome LCD, a four-way cursor, and the usual buttons. It's logical and neatly laid out, and the menus are easy to navigate. The HTML configuration pages that offer another way to view printer status and settings are equally simple to use.
The Phaser 6010 performed competently in our tests, compared with other low-cost models. Text pages exited at a brisk 9.6 pages per minute on both Mac and Windows. Half-page color graphics, printed at default or finer settings, emerged at almost 2 ppm. A more-complex photo rendered on the Mac took about 2 minutes, or 0.5 ppm.
Outside of some slight banding in color graphics, the output quality of the Phaser 6010 was impressive. Colors looked slightly cool and dark, but still very natural, and details were precise. Text was sharp, black, and smooth.
Now for the bad news: toner costs. Although you may eventually find the toner cheaper online, Xerox's estimated retail prices are $70 for the 2000-page black cartridge and $60 apiece for the cyan, magenta, and yellow cartridges. That works out to 3.5 cents per page of text, and a stunning 21.5 cents for a four-color page. For a printer with a 30,000-page monthly duty cycle, the toner surcharges could add up quickly. Even worse, the unit ships with 500-page starter cartridges, so you'll be shelling out dough earlier rather than later. The printer started warning us that the black toner levels were low after we had printed only 100 text pages and about 25 color pages.
Macworld's buying advice
The Xerox Phaser 6010 is a printer we wanted to like. Its simplicity, good performance, and output quality are compelling. Actually, we did like it—we just don't like paying though the nose for toner, and the lack of automatic duplexing makes it hard to save on paper, too.