The Good Ample paper supply; fast monochrome text and graphics printing.
The Bad Hard drive and Ethernet connectivity optional; high-contrast printing breaks up small fonts.
The Bottom Line The Xerox Phaser 4500B is a fast and capable printer that is perfect for a small business with plans to grow.
Xerox Phaser 4500B
Editors' note: We originally incorrectly stated the printer emulation used by the Xerox Phaser 4500B; it is True PostScript3 and PCL6.
The Xerox Phaser 4500B monochrome laser printer is an excellent pick for small businesses looking for fast text and graphic printing and lots of it. Out-of-the-box USB and parallel-port connectivity lets you quickly attach the Xerox Phaser 4500B to a desktop, but small workgroups can access the unit through printer sharing or a print server, too. Larger businesses that need more than the base model's maximum 240MB of RAM, an internal hard drive, or an Ethernet port upgrade should opt for the corresponding models: the 4500N, the 4500DT, the 4500YN, and the 4500DX models. But the Xerox Phaser 4500B is fast enough for most small businesses and is currently outpaced by only the . A variety of options ensure that the Xerox Phaser 4500B will grow to meet almost any business need. The Xerox Phaser 4500B isn't much to look at. This monolithic, light-beige box is as boxy as they come, and it measures 16.6 inches wide, 18.3 inches deep, and 17.3 inches high--slightly smaller than other workgroup printers and lightweight for its category, at just 45.2 pounds. You might need a second pair of hands to get the Xerox Phaser 4500B into place. While the Xerox Phaser 4500B requires only a few inches along each side for ventilation, plan on allowing at least 6 inches in the rear for clearing any paper jams.
An ample, 500-sheet paper-output area tops the Xerox Phaser 4500B, and a simple menu-driven control panel sits squarely on the unit's top front. A LCD shows the printer status and the menu selections. Using a combination of Up, Down, Select, and Back buttons (along with Clear and Information buttons) on the control panel, it's easy to set up. Once you've finished, you can choose among Information (Help), Walk-up Features (those that don't require a computer), Printer Setup, and Troubleshooting options on the printer's menu. While it takes a little practice to master any menu system, the control panel on the Xerox 4500B is straightforward, making this printer easy to navigate.
A single toner/drum unit installs easily by opening the top panel and sliding the part into place. The Xerox Phaser 4500B uses a standard toner cartridge ($159.99) rated at 10,000 sheets or 2 cents per page--about average for a monochrome laser printer. If you need more output, though, you can opt for a high-capacity toner cartridge ($212.99) that yields 18,000 sheets for an incredible 1 cent per page. And, unlike some workgroup printers we've seen, the Xerox Phaser 4500B offers True PostScript3 and PCL6 emulation, so the type style you see on your computer screen is what you get on paper. As with most full-feature workgroup printers, the Xerox Phaser 4500B supports numerous upgrades to suit your office's needs. The Xerox Phaser 4500B ships with 48MB of base RAM and supports up to 240MB. Other members of the 4500 family will handle up to 256MB of RAM. (A 64MB expansion lists for $249, and a 128MB expansion will run $509.) The Xerox Phaser 4500B doesn't ship with a hard drive, but a $499 hard drive kit adds 20GB of storage for busy office environments.
Our review unit arrived with both a USB 1.1 port and a standard parallel port located on the rear panel. The base model lacks 10/100 Ethernet support, but you can purchase an optional kit for $399.
Paper handling is a real strength of the Xerox Phaser 4500 family, and the 4500B model stays true to the tradition, with both a 150-sheet multipurpose tray and a 550-sheet tray located at the bottom front of the unit. The multipurpose tray handles ordinary paper, along with envelopes and a variety of paper types. The multipurpose tray fits into the unit completely, so you don't need to leave open any awkward covers. Busy offices can consider an additional 550-sheet paper feeder for $299 or a two-sided or duplex module and a 500-sheet job-offset stacker for $329 and $249, respectively.
The Xerox Phaser 4500B ships with drivers for Windows 95, 98, Me, NT 4.x, 2000, and XP, Mac OS 8, 9, and X, Novell NetWare 3.x, 4.x, 5.x, and 6.x, along with numerous flavors of Unix. Networked printers will benefit from powerful management tools, such as Xerox CentreWare software, allowing access to printer and job status, accounting information, and administration. The CentreWare IS Embedded Web Server lets administrators manage printers from any Web browser.
In CNET Labs' speed test, the Xerox Phaser 4500B performed well overall. It's decidedly one of the fastest laser printers we've tested, pumping out monochrome text at 26.8 pages per minute (ppm) and monochrome graphics at 17.8ppm. By comparison, the Phaser 4500B runs just a little behind our all-time champion, the , which scored 27.4ppm and 24.7ppm for text and graphics, respectively.
The Xerox Phaser 4500B's print quality is a different story, however. Our jury found a similar problem with both the text and graphic tests: too much contrast. The text, though crisp and sharp, was too bright, causing small fonts to disintegrate, starting with 5-point text. Our graphics print samples suffered even more: the high contrast resulted in bad gradients throughout and imprecise shading in graphical elements and images.
Overall, the Xerox Phaser 4500B ran smoothly and is surprisingly quiet for a printer its size. We tested the unit with its factory default settings, which you can change to better the output. Click here to learn more about how CNET Labs tests printers.
Performance analysis written by CNET Labs project leader Dong Van Ngo.