New printers a contradiction: analyst

Stamford, Conn.-based Xerox Corp. launched two new printers – one black-and-white and one colour – in its line of Phaser office printers in June.

Designed to use Xerox’s ColorStix II Solid Ink technology, which Xerox claims is much easier to load than standard ink technologies, the Phaser 860 is a network colour printer that prints at a speed of 16 pages per minute (ppm). The company also claims the product will finish the first page of a job 10 seconds after clicking the print button.

The Phaser 860 has a 250MHz processor and offers colour technologies such as TekColor Dynamic Color Correction, ColorSync, ICC colour press profiles, Pantone certification and sRGB colour matching.

According to David Tait, Xerox’s product marketing manager in Wilsonville, Ore., Xerox is targeting the large enterprise market with the Phaser 860 and the black-and-white Phaser 3400. The company announced its exit from the small office/home office (SOHO) market on June 14, and will slowly phase out its SOHO products over a six-month period.

Features included with the Phaser 860 include 64MB of standard memory (expandable to 256MB), expanded media flexibility to include legal size paper and support of up to 110-pound index stock, automatic two-sided printing, 10/100Base-T Ethernet with auto install and 1,200 dots per inch print resolution. In addition, Xerox is offering free black ink for life to Phaser 860 customers. According to Tait, the Phaser 860 is comparable to the Hewlett-Packard Co. HP 4550 series.

“What we’re really trying to do is lead the transition from black-and-white to colour,” Tait said. “Generally speaking, most office printers these days are monochrome, but there is a growing segment of office users that are opting for colour printers. What has slowed the adoption up to this point is to have the right pricing and performance.”

The Phaser 3400 is the first printer to carry Xerox’s Phaser brand name. The printer features a print speed of 17 ppm with the first page finished in 12 seconds. It has an available network configuration and is meant to be used by small workgroups or an individual business user. It sports 16MB of memory (expandable to 80MB), a 166MHz PowerPC processor with image co-processor, up to 1,200 sheet input capacity, 10/100Base-TX Ethernet, parallel and USB connectivity and a one-year warranty.

“It’s a powerful enough printer to be used in a network, but affordable enough for people who wish to use it as a personal printer, as well,” Tait said.

According to Raymond Quan, research analyst at International Data Corp. Canada in Toronto, the new Xerox Phaser printers are pretty standard laser printers with a strong price point.

“In terms of bridging the gap, I think that Xerox is simply trying to produce a printer that basically provides network capability at a price point that is suitable to a lot of small and medium businesses.”

He added that Xerox appears to be contradicting itself with its announcement to exit the SOHO market and its introduction of the two new Phaser printers.

Both the Phaser 860 and the Phaser 3400 are available now. The Phaser 860 is priced at $3,049, and the Phaser 3400 is priced at $999. Xerox is on the Web at