The solid ink system found in Xerox's ColorQube 8700AS started life in a range of printers aimed at colour proofing in the graphic design industry, but Xerox moved it into the mainstream some years ago and now sells solid ink and laser machines in parallel ranges. This machine offers a lot more than its convenient ink system, though.
A big white machine with dark blue highlights, the shape of the ColorQube 8700AS is a bit amorphous. The flatbed scanner, complete with 50-sheet, duplex Automatic Document Feeder (ADF), is a better fit to the design than some, as the whole machine is turned through 90 degrees, with printed pages appearing from left to right on a tray set under the scanner.
The end of that tray forms a cover for the ink feed slots. Previous models have been criticised for the need to open up the machine to load ink, but you can even add ink while this one’s printing. The branding 'solid' ink is only partly accurate. Although you add ink as coloured blocks, individually shaped so they only fit the correct colour feed slot, the ink is melted before being used to print.
This is why you have to leave the printer switched on, to keep the ink melted and ready for use. Xerox claims that, even so, solid ink printers use less power overall than lasers and its certainly true that making ink blocks is a lot less carbon-intensive than manufacturing replacement laser toner cartridges.
The 178mm touchscreen provides plenty of room to get at the printer's well-designed control interface. This covers all the essentials and includes several automated responses, like displaying the copy controls when you load the ADF with a document.
At the bottom of the front panel is a 525-sheet paper tray and at the left-hand end is a 100-sheet multi-purpose tray. If this isn't enough, you can add two further 525-sheet trays and an 1,800-sheet bulk tray. Other options include a wheeled cabinet – handy, as the Xerox ColorQube 8700 weighs over 40kg – a 625-sheet finisher, a variety of card readers and a wireless network adapter.
Bundled software includes both PostScript Level 3 and PCL 6 drivers and there are scanning, network and consumable monitoring utilities.