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Xerox Phaser 4400N review: Xerox Phaser 4400N

Xerox Phaser 4400N

Stephen Bigelow
5 min read
As monochrome laser printers go, the 1,200dpi Xerox Phaser 4400 is a heavy-duty, networkable printing machine. It churns out professional-quality text and graphics at lightning speeds, and it requires little or no knowledge to use; its high-capacity toner cartridge is particularly easy to replace. Also, ample drivers and clear documentation let companies, with or without IT support, set up and operate this printer across a multitude of PC and network platforms. This printer can handle large, busy corporate environments, yet it doesn't take a network administrator to master its simple menu-driven user controls. This simplicity makes it ideal for small, networked businesses, as long as they can swing the expense. Behind the Xerox Phaser 4400's light-beige case and gentle lines hides a serious business printer. This heavyweight can support a duty cycle of up to 150,000 pages per month, but its uncomplicated setup means no network administrator is required. To install the printer, just pop in the print cartridge, load the paper tray, attach any optional devices, connect the cables, then install the drivers and the application software for your operating system. The 4400N/DT/DX models provide a parallel port and a USB 2.0 port for local connections, as well as an Ethernet port for network operation (the 4400B model offers everything but the Ethernet port). An installation poster walks you through the general setup, and a 37-page setup and quick-reference guide delves into more detail, although you may not need it.

Simple setup.

Parallel, USB, and Ethernet ports.

Should you require assistance, the 4400 ships with three CDs containing documentation, drivers, and network management to help you install the printer on just about any standalone PC or network.
Estimated retail prices for the 4400 range from $999 to $2,699, depending on the selected model. The 4400N reviewed here retails for about $1,400--hardly sticker shock for high-volume corporations. The price might deter some network-ready small businesses, but Xerox is offering a $200 rebate on the 4400N until April 30, 2003.

Since Xerox designed the 4400N to be a powerful workhorse, the printer doesn't come stuffed full of fancy features and extras.

Easy-to-install toner cartridge.

Uncomplicated LCD menus.

The 4400N has a 550-sheet paper tray by default, but you can expand the printer's paper-handling capacity by adding two 550-sheet trays for a total of 1,650 sheets, along with other options such as a 500-sheet stacker (with offset to separate jobs). That done, the printer can simultaneously handle print jobs from a variety of sources on the network and keep those jobs separate for each user. The unusually deep paper-output tray will easily hold a full ream of paper--impressive.

High-capacity paper trays.
The printer's user-friendly control panel is a four-line menu on the printer's small LCD. You'll control the printer with just three main keys (Up, Down, and OK). Graphics workers will appreciate the 4400N's Adobe PostScript 3 (with PCL 5e and 6 emulation) support, which provides precise image and text rendering.
As with all black-and-white laser printers, the Phaser 4400 runs on a single, easy-to-install, black toner cartridge; you can replace an exhausted cartridge in less than 30 seconds and continue printing without a hitch. Simply open the front panel, and exchange cartridges. Both 10,000- ($159.99) and 15,000-page ($181.99) toner cartridges are available, though the latter is the better value. Many other high-yield toner cartridges fall within this price range.

In CNET Labs' official tests, the 1,200dpi Phaser 4400 acquitted itself with honor. It delivered squeaky-clean text output at a perky 19 pages per minute (ppm), although not all of the lettering came out perfectly crisp and sharp. Printing mixed text and graphics results took a little longer, at 12.5ppm, but the results looked equally attractive. Sharp images achieved great contrast; the images contained a little flaking that was scarcely noticeable to the naked eye. In short, the 4400 is fast and clean enough to handle whatever printing demands you throw at it.

Fast, clean printouts.

Industrial-strength innards.

Compared to other laser printers CNET has reviewed, the 4400N is the fastest performer so far. But keep in mind that, until recently, CNET has primarily reviewed nonnetworkable laser printers, and the performance speeds most likely reflect this. As we publish more reviews of low-cost workgroup printers, you'll see more balanced performance across the board.

Laser printer speed
Pages per minute; longer bars indicate better performance
Xerox Phaser 4400N
Xerox Phaser 3400
Brother HL-1850
Samsung ML-1430
Laser printer quality
Poor   ••Fair   •••Good   ••••Excellent
 Printer Text Graphics
 Brother HL-1850 •••• •••
 Samsung ML-1430 •••• •••
 Xerox Phaser 3400 •• •••
 Xerox Phaser 4400N ••• •••

Xerox backs its Phaser 4400 family with a full, one-year, onsite warranty that you can extend for an additional one ($199), two ($329), or three ($459) years. Xerox also provides toll-free telephone support (Monday through Friday, 5 a.m. to 5 p.m. PT), which is free under warranty; after the warranty expires, you must pay $25 fee per incident. The automated menu navigation and hold times are relatively short; a live person responded to CNET's test call within two minutes. The Xerox rep took another several minutes to gather warranty/ownership information, but once the real work started, he responded to a simulated problem quickly and professionally. If you don't mind a little phone navigation and a few short minutes on hold, your problems will be addressed.
The three included CDs also provide a wide variety of help. The Interactive Documentation CD contains a setup video to help get you started, along with a number of PDF guides such as Setup, Features, Trays & Paper, Networking, Troubleshooting, and Support. The Printer Installer And Utilities CD contains drivers for most operating systems, including Windows 9x/Me, Windows NT 4.x, Windows 2000/XP, Mac OS 8/9/X 10.1, and Novell NetWare 3. x/4.x/5.x/6.x. The Advanced Printer Management Tools CD provides a series of resources, such as Xerox CentreWare Printer Management for Microsoft, Novell, and Unix; CentreWare Internet Services; and CentreWare Web Administrator, designed to help system administrators configure and manage the 4400.
The Xerox Web site offers extensive product support for the 4400, including updated drivers and software, as well as a knowledge base and a FAQ that can resolve many common issues. An online PhaserSMART diagnostic tool uses the unit's IP address to automatically verify your printer's network connection and run a set of basic diagnostics. A selection of PDF manuals, guides, and instruction sheets cover topics from setup to troubleshooting. There's even a selection of Macromedia Flash videos to walk you through common installation and setup procedures.

Xerox Phaser 4400N

Score Breakdown

Design 9Features 8Performance 8Support 9