Phaser 6500DN color laser printer for small and medium-size workgroups carries a temptingly low price of $499. But given the volume of output that such users are likely to generate, it’s unfortunate that the Phaser 6500DN’s replacement toner costs are so dear.
The Phaser 6500DN provides the usual workgroup-level features: USB and ethernet connectivity; a 250-sheet main input tray and integrated manual-feed slot; and a top, 150-sheet output tray. An additional, 250-sheet input tray costs $199 from Xerox. Duplexing (two-sided printing) is standard, but Mac users must enable it manually. The Phaser 6500, a lower-cost model without duplexing, costs $399.
In our tests, the Phaser 6500DN delivered midrange speeds overall. Mac performance was slower than average: 13.1 ppm when printing plain text; 2.7 ppm when printing a document with mixed text and graphics; and a sluggish 0.4 ppm when printing a high-resolution, full-page color photo. On Windows, the performance improved; it produced 14.8 pages per minute of plain text, and 1.8 ppm of snapshot-size color photos on letter-size paper.
Though the unit’s print speed numbers weren’t bad, our sample output revealed a few print quality challenges. Plain, black text was perfectly crisp, but solid areas in either grayscale or color showed slight banding on prints from a Windows computer, and inkjet-printer-like graininess on prints from the Mac. Color quality was realistic, but initially we encountered registration problems (the four colors failed to line up), making images look blurry or off-kilter. The printer has automatic and manual methods for fixing this, but after a couple of rounds of attempted corrections, we still couldn’t perfect it. Per Xerox, it might take two or three cycles to set things straight.
Even when you get the colors right, the cost of printing with them will be high, to judge from the pricing released by Xerox at press time. The printer ships with 1000-page cartridges for all four colors. The 3000-page replacement black cartridge costs $106, or a pricey 3.5 cents per page. The two sizes of color cartridges include 1000-page models for $65 apiece (6.5 cents per color), and 2,500-page models for $110 apiece (4.4 cents per color). A four-color page would cost between 16.7 and 23 cents. These prices more closely resemble those of a typical color inkjet printer than of a typical color laser.
Macworld’s buying advice
The Xerox Phaser 6500DN is equipped for busy workgroup use. Unfortunately, its color costs make higher-volume usage prohibitively expensive.