Ready, Set, Print
First and foremost, the 3300MFP is a printer, and its primary strength is speed. The printer produces a first page in less than 10 seconds and continues pumping out pages at a rate of "up to 30" pages per minute. While the "up to" is Xerox marketing speak, our experience suggests this is not an exaggeration.
Although 3300 produces print quality up to 1,200 dots-per-inch (dpi), the software driver defaults to the faster 600 dpi ‑ more than adequate for most jobs. The unit produces the quality print you would expect. As a monochrome printer, you're hardly going to be running detailed photographs through it.
The 3300MFP includes a built-in duplexer, so you can print jobs to both sides of paper without any manual intervention and save a lot of papergood for both your wallet and the environment. Using the manual feed tray, you can feed alternative media like bond, card stock, envelopes, labels and transparencies.
The 3300MFP can scan documents and then store them almost anywhere. You can store them in pre-defined network shares, send them directly to specified applications on a connected PC, to an attached USB thumb drive, save them to Internet-accessible folders or FTP sites, or send scans directly to a list of recipients by e-mail.
Despite a cornucopia of scanning options, though, there are some quirks. If your scanner is connected via the network, it cannot scan directly to specific applications on a PC. This requires the PC to be connected to the scanner via USB. This is relatively easy to work around, though. For example, you can scan directly to a pre-defined folder on your PC. For most purposes, this is nearly just as convenient.
Another caveat is that the TWAIN driver also supports scanning only via USB. Suppose you launch Photoshop, for example, and want scan a document directly into the software. If you are connected to the 3300MFP via network, this won't workthe Xerox TWAIN driver can't find the scanner. If you plug the PC into the unit's USB port, this will work. We've seen competing MFPs that do support TWAIN scanning over the network, though, so we would like to see this limitation improved.
Still, scanning to a Windows share, or FTP location, is a plus. You'll need to configure these parameters, along with e-mail options (SMTP server and recipient addresses) using the Web-based administration console.
The 3300MFP scans in color with resolution "up to 4,800 dpi interpolated" but realistically, its optical performance peaks at around 300 dpi. Scan quality can best be described as office-worthygood enough for documents, but you won't want to use the 3300MFP to scan family heirloom photographs. Both detail and color fidelity are on the slight side.
MFP Management and Consumables
The most effective way to manage the 3300MFP over a network is using its built-in Web server, known as CentreWare Internet Services. CentreWare displays the current printer status and basic performance statistics like page count and toner level.
You can define default settings for many of the walk-up operations, like size and darkness for copies; configure network printing or e-mail alerts, so that the machine will contact specified recipients to report a variety of conditions, like low toner or paper jam. Though comprehensive, the Web-based console is rather clunky to use and often produces browser errors.
The Phaser 3300MFP's 4000-sheet capacity toner cartridge ($110) works out to an affordable 2.7 cents per page. You can do even better with the available 8000-sheet toner ($169), lowering your cost to 2.1 cents per page.
Although a lighter-duty business customer might take pause at its average scan quality, lack of memory card reader or color output, the Xerox Phaser 3300MFP's automatic document feeding, built-in duplex printing, and high productivity makes it well suited for a small or medium-sized business with a moderately demanding print volume.
Aaron Weiss a technology writer, screenwriter and Web development consultant who spends his free time stacking wood for the winter in Upstate New York. His Web site is: bordella.com
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