Xerox Phaser 8400 Series Color Printer

By M. David Stone  |  Print this article Print

What's faster than most laser printers, prints much like an offset printing press, and costs $1,000?

What's faster than most laser printers, prints much like an offset printing press, and costs $1,000? It's the Xerox Phaser 8400 Series Color Printer. This solid-ink printer melts its resin-based ink, sprays it on a drum, then rolls the drum against the paper to transfer the imageā€”all at an engine speed of 24 pages per minute (ppm) for color or monochrome output.

Setting up the 8400DP takes far less work than a color laser. The unit ships with ink already loaded, so all you have to do is find a place for the printer, plug it in, and give the ink about 12 minutes to melt (subsequent warm-ups take less than 4 minutes). While you're waiting, you can install the driver using the automated installation routine. Run the setup routine from the CD, acknowledge that setup found the right printer, and then wait for the installation to finish.

To say that the 8400DP is an impressive performer is an understatement. Compared with the low-cost laser and LED printers we look at in an upcoming issue, the 8400DP has hardly any competition. It leaves the four-pass lasers in the dust and beats the single-pass Oki C5100n LED printer on well over half of our individual tests. Its total time on our performance suite was 6 minutes even, compared with 7:55 for the C5100n. On our quality suite, it was a bit slower than the C5100n (2:03 versus 1:37).

The output is worth the negligible wait. Using high-quality settings, output on Ilford's Smooth Multi-Use paper is good to excellent for text and graphics and fair to good for photos. Text is readable at 5 points or less for more than half the fonts we test. Lines and edges in graphics are also crisp, but dithering shows as graininess in graphic fills and photos.

We also saw some posterization in photos, which makes this the wrong printer if you want high-quality photo output. But for outstanding text and brilliant color graphics, the Phaser 8400 will give you beautiful output at faster speeds than any other $1,000 color printer.


M. David Stone is an award-winning freelance writer and computer industry consultant with special areas of expertise in imaging technologies (including printers, monitors, large-screen displays, projectors, scanners, and digital cameras), storage (both magnetic and optical), and word processing. His 25 years of experience in writing about science and technology includes a nearly 20-year concentration on PC hardware and software. He also has a proven track record of making technical issues easy for non-technical readers to understand, while holding the interest of more knowledgeable readers. Writing credits include eight computer-related books, major contributions to four others, and more than 2,000 articles in national and worldwide computer and general interest publications. His two most recent books are The Underground Guide to Color Printers (Addison-Wesley, 1996) and Troubleshooting Your PC, (Microsoft Press, 2000, with co-author Alfred Poor).

Much of David's current writing is for PC Magazine, where he has been a frequent contributor since 1983 and a contributing editor since 1987. His work includes feature articles, special projects, reviews, and both hardware and software solutions for PC Magazine's Solutions columns. He also contributes to other magazines, including Wired. As Computers Editor at Science Digest from 1984 until the magazine stopped publication, he wrote both a monthly column and additional articles. His newspaper column on computers appeared in the Newark Star Ledger from 1995 through 1997.

Non-computer-related work includes the Project Data Book for NASA's Upper Atmosphere Research Satellite (written for GE's Astro-Space Division), and magazine articles and AV productions on subjects ranging from cosmology to ape language experiments. David also develops and writes testing scripts for leading computer magazines, including PC Magazine's PC Labs. His scripts have covered a wide range of subjects, including computers, scanners, printers, modems, word processors, fax modems, and communications software. He lives just outside of New York City, and considers himself a New Yorker at heart.


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