We've remarked more than once that hardware shoppers can often get good values by buying last year's model instead of a new, mildly freshened version of a product, because the manufacturer is sure to have lowered the older version's price to make room for its successor. Xerox is the exception that proves the rule.
Last April, we gave a thumbs-up review to Xerox's Phaser 6180, a color laser printer boasting speeds of 26 pages per minute for black and white and 20 ppm for color. It was priced at $449 -- technically, $499 minus a $50 "instant rebate" discount, but you know how flexible list prices are.
What's the idea? Making room for Xerox's new entry-level color laser, the Phaser 6130, is what. The 6130 is smaller, cuter, and more affordable than its sibling -- $374 after a rebate of $75. That's nifty, but we're nitpickers: The new printer is significantly slower than the old, at 16 ppm for black and 12 ppm for color.
It holds less paper, too, with a 250-sheet bottom drawer plus a single-sheet or -envelope feeder slot instead of a 250-sheet drawer plus 150-sheet tray. Its rated maximum duty cycle is one-third less (40,000 versus 60,000 pages per month). And according to posted figures on Xerox's Web site, its costs per page are about 25 percent higher.
|The Phaser 6130 is Xerox's new entry-level color laser.|
That doesn't stop us from liking the Phaser 6130 just fine. But it makes us urge small-office and workgroup outfitters to check out both models before they make a buying decision.Rise and Shine
The Phaser 6130 -- formally named the 6130/N, to indicate its built-in 10/100Mbps Ethernet network adapter in addition to a USB 2.0 connector for a single PC -- isn't as petite as many inkjet and monochrome laser printers, but it's less imposing and more handsome than most other color lasers.
Curves rather than right angles form the front of the printer, which measures roughly 16 by 16 by 16 inches -- both shorter and shallower than the 6180 -- and can be taken out of the box by one office worker instead of two, thanks to its relatively trim 38-pound weight.
An Energy Star sticker attests to the Phaser's modest 280-watt power consumption during printing, dropping below 50 watts when on standby and five watts when resting overnight. Indeed, except for the occasional need to cancel a job in mid-print, the only one of the Xerox's front-panel controls you may use regularly is the "Wake Up" button with a cute icon of a ringing alarm clock -- and you don't actually need to use it, since simply printing a document will rouse the sleeping printer.
Setup is fairly simple; pulling out and discarding a handful of strips of packing tape was easy, though it took us a couple of tries to lock the front-mounted imaging unit into place. It's more fun to install the 6130's cyan, magenta, yellow, and black toner cartridges -- neat, petite modules about the size of a stapler or compact flashlight, which slide into racks that swivel out from behind a side panel. They're not only the easiest-loading laser cartridges we've seen; they're more friendly than most inkjet cartridges.