The Xerox Phaser 6115MFP/N has the potential to be a great printer, but it falls short in the end. Still, it does some things right, and has a generous feature set. Stock up on patience before using this multifunction laser printer.
The Xerox Phaser 6115MFP/N is a color laser multifunction printer aimed squarely at the small-to medium office market. It has all the features an office needs--Print, Scan, Copy, and Fax--for a fair price of $800 (if you need a duplexer, the 6115MFP/D is $100 more). It's also network-ready and even has a legal-size flatbed scanner, despite the presence of a built-in ADF. That said, it's hard to know what to make of this multifunction device, because it's all over the map. It's decently fast with black prints, but slows way down for color prints. Its print quality is good, but not the best we've seen. And the usability could be improved. With some design improvements--such as an easier process for replacing toner, a manual feed slot, and more transparent menu icons and abbreviations--it could be a great printer, but as it stands, we're a bit underwhelmed despite its many charms. In terms of print quality and ease of use, we like the comparably priced HP Color LaserJet CM1017MFP better, but it lacks a fax machine, can only do up to A4-size scans, and is much slower at black prints. Which should you choose? It depends on your needs.
The Xerox Phaser 6115MFP is a monster of a printer, much better suited for small to medium-size offices than homes. It stands 20.8 inches wide, 22.7 inches deep, and 20.9 inches tall, and weighs a hefty 73 pounds. Two hand wells on either side of the unit let you get a grip for moving, but given the size and weight of the printer, we recommend roping someone into helping you.
The multifunction 6115MFP has a top-mounted flatbed scanner with a 50-sheet automatic document feeder attached to the scanner lid. For scanning thick materials such as books, the scanner lid's hinges rise up a bit. The scanner bed can accommodate originals up to legal size; most MFPs can only accommodate A4-size originals. The ADF allows for batch scanning and copying.
The control panel is mounted on a shelf that sits just below the scanning unit. It is divided into three sections: the far left is the fax area, composed mostly of speed dial buttons; the center includes a 2-line text LCD (not backlit, unfortunately), menu navigation buttons, an alphanumeric keypad, and some shortcut buttons (including Collate, Reduce/Enlarge, and Quality); and the right section houses the mode buttons (Copy, Scan, Fax) and color and black Start buttons. The data on the LCD is a bit cryptic until you look it up in the user guide; we prefer the menus and control panels to be clear and obvious. Another feature we found initially confusing is a button with four small color dots on it (cyan, magenta, yellow, and black): under the LCD are four labels that obviously coordinate with the toner cartridges (black, cyan, magenta, and yellow). Our assumption was that pressing the button would call up an indicator showing toner levels, but instead, the button rotates the toner carousel so you can replace the cartridges. To check toner levels, you have to press the Display button instead. Again, we discovered this by perusing the user guide, but we like it when we're able to navigate a printer's control panel without consulting a manual.
The Xerox Phaser 6115MFP comes with a single, 200-sheet input tray and a 100-sheet output bin. The output bin has an extendable tray that you can lock into either of two positions, depending on the length of your prints. If you need more input capacity, Xerox offers a second input tray--500 sheets--for $350. Unfortunately, there's no manual feed slot or tray bypass, so all your print jobs will need to be fed through the main tray, which means you may have to swap out the contents of the tray for a one-off print. You can load a variety of media types in the tray, but if you're printing on envelopes, the user guide also directs you to open the body of the tray to access and adjust the fuser separator levers. Clearly, doing one-off prints on envelopes is quite an involved chore on the 6115MFP.
The Xerox Phaser 6115MFP/N has all the features that a small to medium-size office needs: it prints, scans, faxes, and copies. Additionally, it comes network-ready, so everyone in your office can share. You can choose between connecting it directly to a PC via USB 2.0, or to your network via fast Ethernet. The one feature it lacks it a built-in duplexer, but the 6115MFP/D ($900) includes this feature, should you need it. The 6115MFP ships with 128MB of onboard memory (not expandable).
The 6115MFP's scan function is full-featured but a bit cumbersome. With most MFPs, you can initiate scans directly on the MFP and send them to your PC--to be saved in a number of file formats, to be attached to an e-mail, or to be opened in a number of programs for editing. The 6115MFP only allows you to scan to e-mail from the printer, but even this function is limited: instead of sending the scan to the e-mail program on your PC, it sends the e-mail directly from the printer (the printer has to be networked to use this feature). To initiate all other scans, you'll need to install Xerox's Scan to PC Desktop application (on a separate disc from the drivers), which includes several components, including PaperPort, OmniPage OCR, and PDF converter software. Using this full-featured program, you can scan documents and images; improve the scans (by straightening, reducing red eye, and removing stray marks, among other options); send the scanned document to a number of programs including word processing, image processing, and e-mail programs; and create text-editable documents or PDFs. We liked the ability to drag and drop the thumbnail of the scanned item into a program icon. If the program detects that the program is a word processor such as Microsoft Word, it will automatically engage the optical character recognition software to convert the scan to a text-editable document.
Copying is more straightforward than scanning. You can opt to make mono or color scans; the printer features a Start button for each. Color copies are slow, however, as Xerox has opted to use the multipass toner carousel as opposed to a single-pass arrangement (more on this later). Before you make your copies, you can make several adjustments including selecting the type of original (text, image, mixed), altering darkness, and resizing from 50 to 200 percent (preset or custom). More advanced options include collated copy, 2-on-1 copies, ID card copy, and double-sided copy (for the 6115MFP/D).
Faxing also presents the usual range of features. You can program up to 9 one-touch dial numbers and up to 100 speed-dial numbers, including dial groups (with up to 50 numbers in each group). You can queue up a fax to be sent at a later time; send out a broadcast fax to up to 125 recipients (and print a report to see who received it); and set up the fax machine so that incoming faxes are stored in memory and can only be retrieved via a password--an excellent feature if you're concerned about security.
As we mentioned earlier, the Xerox Phaser 6115MFP employs a carousel arrangement for its four toner cartridges. This setup was more common in the past, but because the paper must pass over the carousel four times (once for each of four colors), many printer manufacturers have moved to an inline arrangement, where the paper makes just one pass over the toner cartridges, which are arranged in a single line. The inline arrangement closes the time gap between black and color prints, a gap evidenced by the 6115MFP's rated speeds of 20ppm for black and 5ppm for color (according to our Labs' test results in the Performance section).
The carousel arrangement also makes replacing the toner cartridges an unnecessarily long task. With inline printers, you can simply open the front or top cover and pull out each cartridge to replace it. With the Phaser 6115MFP, only one cartridge at a time can be in the top, "replaceable" position. To change it, you need to repeatedly press the toner change button on the control panel until the cartridge you want to change is displayed. Next, open up the printer to access the carousel, pull out the spent cartridge, and install the new one. Unfortunately, should you want to replace all four of the toner cartridges at once, you'll have to install the first, close up the whole machine, wait until the next toner cartridge moves into place, open up the machine, remove and replace that cartridge, lather, rinse, repeat. The whole process is cumbersome and doesn't save much space; the 6115MFP is about the same size as the HP Color LaserJet CM1017MFP, which utilizes the inline setup.
The color toner cartridges come in both standard (1,500 pages) and high-capacity (4,500 pages) versions. The standard cartridges cost $70 each, while the high-capacity ones cost $160 each. The black cartridge (4,500 pages) costs $100, for a per-page cost of 2.2 cents for a black print. Color prints cost about 12.9 cents per page with the high-capacity cartridges, and about 16.2 cents per page for the regular versions. While the black print cost is low, the color prints are a tad expensive. The Epson AcuLaser CX11NF offers lower per-page costs.
In CNET Labs' tests, the Xerox Phaser 6115MFP/N outpaced the HP CM1017 in black prints (as well it should: it's rated to be faster), but it couldn't top the HP in color printing. The Phaser printed black text at a rate of 14.76ppm and black graphics at 14.87ppm. It printed color text at 4.94ppm and color graphics at 4.50ppm (both numbers are remarkably close to Xerox's rating of 5ppm, a rarity in printer advertising). The HP scored 5.91ppm and 6.16ppm, respectively, in those tests. The Phaser 6115MFP scored 2.63ppm for a grayscale scan and 2.57ppm for a color scan. And using the ADF, it copied at a rate of 3.36ppm.
|Color graphics||Color text||Black graphics||Black text|
|Grayscale scan||Color scan|
The 6115MFP/N did a laudable job with printing, though it has its weaknesses. Black text was impressive: sharp, dark, clean, and consistent. Color text showed great color handling and clean characters, but it could stand to be sharper. A side-by-side comparison with the HP's color text proved that our eyes weren't just tired. We also liked the mono graphics print. Xerox handled the grayscale better than the HP, but the HP's photo and graphic elements showed better sharpness and detail. The Xerox's color graphics print showed truer color than the HP, but it was still plagued by some ruddiness in the photo elements and wasn't quite as sharp as the HP print. For print quality, we'll give the slight edge to the HP Color LaserJet CM1017.
The Xerox 6115MFP did a much better job with scanning than the HP CM1017, but it wasn't without its own problems. The grayscale scan showed a lot of compression in the dark end of the grayscale, resulting in lost details in the shadows. However, details were sharp and the scanner did an excellent job handling various patterns. The color scan, while detailed and sharp, was also overly dark. The colors looked muddy.
|Color graphics||Color text||Black graphics||Black text|
|Grayscale scan||Color scan|
Service and support
Xerox backs the Phaser 6180/N with a one-year warranty, but you can upgrade it to two or three years. Toll-free phone support is available Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., Eastern Time. Xerox's Web site offers software and driver downloads, a troubleshooting knowledge base, video tutorials, and manuals.