You can buy a colour laser printer for around £150, but these tend to be both slow and expensive to run. For another £120, you can get a Xerox Phaser 6600VDN, which is neither of these things. Designed for a small to medium workgroup or office, the printer is as good at mono print as it is with colour, and can turn out duplex pages as easily as single-sided ones.
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Smartly decked out in a white case, with a dark blue top, and with a jaunty curve to the join to relieve its rather cuboid looks, the Phaser 6600VDN has a substantial output tray moulded into its top surface. There’s a small control panel to the left of this, with a 2-line, 16-character display, sensibly used to provide straightforward status messages.
Below this is a pull-down, 150-sheet multi-purpose tray, but no USB socket for secure printing from memory drives. At the bottom of the front panel is a 550-sheet main tray and a second tray with the same, full-ream, capacity, can be fitted below as an option, giving a total, expanded paper capacity of 1250 sheets.
At the back are sockets for USB and Ethernet network, which can run at up to gigabit speeds. Wireless connection is available only as an option.
Pull down the whole of the front cover and there are four toner cartridges, stacked one above the other, giving very easy access. There are three other parts to the mechanism that can be replaced: the drum, transfer belt and fuser. These have a service life of at least 60,000 pages, though, so you may never need to replace them during the life of the printer. We’ve included them when calculating page costs, however.
Software comprises a well-designed printer driver and Xerox Centreware. The driver supports multiple pages per sheet, draft print and, of course, the printer’s duplex ability.
Xerox claims a more than healthy speed of 35ppm in both mono and colour for the Phaser 6600VDN, but we didn’t get that close under test. We normally print a single page to get a printer warmed up, before running tests, but even then, we saw a maximum of 25.5ppm on our 20-page document and 15.8ppm on the more typical 5-page job. Printing in draft mode might save some toner, but in our tests, actually took two seconds longer to complete five pages.
We did get an impressive duplex print speed of 19.1 sides per minute on our 20-side print. In real terms, all the speeds are very respectable, just not that close to the specifications. It took 22s to warm up and print a single page from its normal sleep state.
The print quality is excellent, with sharp, dense black text and bright, attention-grabbing colour. By default, it’s perhaps a bit too bright for natural rendition of photos, but you can adjust for a more natural look in software.
The printer won’t print in enhanced 1200dpi photo mode unless using thin card stock and it’s annoying that it produces a double-sided startup page every time you turn it on. The default can be changed, but why have it on in the first place?
Toner cartridges are available in standard and high yield versions and, using the high-yield consumables, page costs work out at 2.7p for a mono page and 10.5p for colour, both including 0.7p for paper. If you exclude the high yield drum, transfer belt and fuser (ie, if the printer will print less than 60,000 pages during its life) these costs drop by around 0.6p per sheet.
There’s quite a bit of competition in this section of the market, but the Phaser 6600VDN holds up well against machines, like Dell’s C2660DN, which is slower and more expensive to run, and the Brother HL- L8250CDN, which is a touch slower, though it does have a USB socket for walk-up printing, making it a bit more versatile.
The Xerox Phaser 6600VDN is a very good colour laser printer for general office use. Good-quality print, low page costs and huge paper capacity make it a fine choice for mono and colour work. While we’d like to see a USB port for added flexibility, that’s about the only niggle we have with this machine.