Xerox Phaser 7100/N review

Pros

  • Very good graphics quality
  • Above par photos
  • Good speed
  • Nicely priced

Cons

  • No port for USB stick

The Xerox Phaser 7100 is a new model in Xerox's repertoire, filling a niche as a relatively low cost colour laser printer that can print at up to A3 size. In that role it's a winner, with good speed and strong output quality, most notably its above par graphics, and also slightly above average photos.

The 7100/N lacks the natural language colour control of the Xerox Phaser 7500/DN and is not designed for as massive print volumes – with a maximum monthly duty cycle of 52,000 pages, compared with the 7500/DN's 150,000 pages. It can't quite match the 7500/DN's exceptional output quality, but it brings enough to the table to more than earn its’ stripes as a lower priced A3 colour laser printer.

The two-tone (blue and white) 7100/N measures 530 x 500 x 405mm (WxDxH), and weighs 44kg, so you'll need at least two people to move it into place. Still, it's lighter than the 66kg Xerox 7500/DN. The 7100/N has a 400-sheet standard paper capacity, between a 250-sheet main tray and a 150-sheet secondary tray, both of which can fit A3 paper.

The 7100/N lacks an automatic duplexer; another model, the 7100/DN includes a duplexer. Up to three additional 550-sheet trays are available as options, as is a wireless adapter, and a productivity kit, the centrepiece of which is a 40GB hard drive.

The Xerox Phaser 7100/N has standard Ethernet and USB connectivity. I tested the Phaser over an Ethernet connection with a PC running Windows Vista. The recommended driver, which installs by default, is PostScript; users can also install PCL emulations, PDF Direct, or XPS drivers. I ran all our tests using the default PostScript driver.

Speed

I timed the Xerox Phaser 7100/N on the latest version of our business applications suite (as timed with QualityLogic's hardware and software) at 7.6 effective pages per minute (ppm), a good speed considering its rated print speed of 30 ppm. (Rated speeds are based on text-only printing, while our test suite combines text pages, graphics pages, and pages with mixed content.)

It even edges out the Xerox Phaser 7500/DN, rated at 35 pages per minute for both colour and black and white printing, which we timed at 7.1 ppm. I clocked the Dell 7130cdn colour laser, rated at 35 ppm for monochrome printing and 30 ppm for colour printing, at 8.3 ppm, so the Phaser 7100/N was almost as fast.

Output quality

The Phaser 7100/N's text was average for lasers, which is still good enough for almost every business document except for uses such as demanding desktop publishing applications requiring very small fonts.

Graphics quality is above par; graphics should be fine for any internal business use, including PowerPoint hand-outs, and could be used for basic marketing materials. Flaws, all minor, included some mild blotchiness on dark backgrounds, and dithering (graininess).

Photo quality was slightly above average. Most of the prints could pass as true photo quality when seen under glass at arm's length. There was some loss of detail in bright areas, and one image showed traces of banding (spurious slightly dark streaks). The quality is easily good enough to use in company or client newsletters, and is perhaps up to use in basic advertising hand-outs, depending on how picky you are.

As a budget colour laser that can print up to A3 size, the Xerox Phaser 7100/N offers good speed and good overall output quality, with above average graphics and slightly above par photos. The 7100/N lacks natural language software colour control, one of our favourite features from the Xerox 7500/DN. Accessible through the printer's drivers, it lets people with no technical knowledge of colour mixing easily tweak colours from print to print by using a series of drop-down menus, with easy to understand commands such as "green colours slightly more green."

The 7100/N's output quality – though solid, with particularly good graphics quality – can't match that of the 7500/DN, which was top tier for photos and graphics and just short of top tier for text. The 7500/DN also has great paper capacity (600 sheets standard, plus an auto-duplexer). The 7100/N did manage to edge the 7500/DN in printing speed, however.

The Dell 7130cdn, essentially the same printer as the Xerox 7500/DN except lacking natural language colour control, is a tad faster than the other two printers. Its output quality was similar to the 7100/N's, except the Xerox printed superior graphics in our testing. And of course don’t forget that the Dell model costs over £500 more.

Verdict

Although the Xerox Phaser 7100/N can't match the Phaser 7500/DN in terms of features and output quality, you can get it for less than half the price, a bargain for an A3 colour laser printer. So while the 7500/DN is our favourite in terms of a high-end A3 laser printer, the 7100/N is excellent as a budget model, and a Best Buy in our books.

Not only is the 7100/N cost effective, it adds good speed and output quality, and should be a welcome addition to small or mid-sized offices or workgroups looking for an A3 colour laser.

Specifications

Manufacturer and Model

Xerox Phaser 7100/N

Printer Category

Laser

Direct Printing from Cameras

No

Rated Speed at Default Settings (Mono)

30 ppm

Type

Printer Only

Rated Speed at Default Settings (Colour)

30 ppm

Colour or Monochrome

1-pass colour

Print Duplexing

No

Connection Type

USB, Ethernet