Review: Xerox WorkCentre 4150/S

Despite periodic predictions that the advent of the paperless office is nigh, the ability to copy print, scan and fax documents continues to be a mainstay of almost every office.

Small businesses looking for all of these features in a single device should give serious consideration to the Xerox WorkCentre 4150/S, a $2,499 black-and-white, multifunction device that provides 45 page-per-minute printing along with copying, scanning, faxing and a number of convenience- and productivity-enhancing features. Our test unit came with 256 MB of memory and 40 GB hard drive.

We experienced an unexpected hiccup while setting up our test model on a network, because although the printer is configured by default to automatically obtain a dynamically assigned IP address, our unit failed to pick up one from our Netgear WPN824’s DHCP server even after multiple attempts. After confirming that the Netgear server was issuing addresses to other devices, we swapped out the Netgear for another router (a Linksys WRT54GS), and this time the DHCP process worked as intended. We’re not entirely sure where to assign culpability for this DHCP problem, but it’s something to be aware of in any case.

Capacities and Consumables
Though by no means a small device, dimensions of 24.5- x 19- x 24-inches make the WorkCentre 4150S compact enough to easily fit on a tabletop in a relatively confined space, such as an empty cubicle. (You wouldn’t necessarily want to put it in close proximity to anyone though; like most comparable printers, the WorkCentre 4150/S makes quite a racket while in operation.

The all-in-one holds 600 sheets of letter, legal or A4 paper — 500 sheets in the standard tray, plus 100 in a bypass tray. A 50-sheet duplex auto document feeder comes standard, and you can bump the total paper storage capacity up to 2,000 sheets with three additional (and optional) trays.

Many multifunction devices in this price range use a single print cartridge that includes both toner and drum, but the WorkCenter 4150 uses separate toner and drum modules rather than one combined print cartridge. Although that’s twice as many consumables to buy, in most cases it should save money over time since the drum unit is rated for 55,000 pages, and the toner is good for 20,000 (though, like most manufacturers, Xerox ships the printer with a 10,000 page toner unit). With a 200,000 page monthly duty cycle, the WorkCentre 4150/S should be able to handle all but the heaviest print volumes.

You can perform walk-up tasks on the printer via a monochrome touch-screen display. While some of the buttons are a bit too small to press comfortably, and the display isn’t quite as visually appealing as the large color screen of the Lexmark X644e, the interface is generally well laid out and easy-to-use.

No More Missing Documents Our network configuration snafu notwithstanding, we were impressed by several of the productivity and convenience features available on the WorkCentre 4150/S. Envision the following scenario — you print a document and go to the printer to retrieve it, only to find that it hasn’t printed. This is often because it’s stuck in the queue behind a previous job that failed to print due to the a lack of appropriate media, leaving it to you to find and load the right paper if you ever want your printout to see the light of day. This situation is particularly irritating for people accustomed to grabbing documents on the way out to a meeting (and you know who you are).

The WorkCentre’s Print Around feature avoids this frustrating scenario by automatically taking the jobs for which the printer does have the correct paper and moving them up in the queue. We sent an envelope job to our test WorkCentre, which was bereft of envelopes, and subsequent 8.5×11 jobs were processed without fanfare even as the printer prompted us to provide the necessary media. We did notice, however, that any incoming faxes were held inside the printer until the missing envelopes were added.

Xerox WorkCentre 4150/S
The Xerox WorkCentre 4150/S offers a good blend of features for any small business that handles a high volume of printed material.

Beyond Printing
Few organizations live on printing alone, and the WorkCentre 4150/S offers convenient fax and scanning features as well. For example, the 4150/S can deliver scans or faxes via e-mail to save paper.

When equipped with optional upgrades ($498), it can store both scanned and faxed documents to your corporate, FTP, or Web server, making it easier to archive hardcopy material and retain a record of fax transmissions. You can send an outgoing fax from any desktop without the need for a separate fax driver.

You can configure many of the WorkCentre’s features directly through it’s control panel, but a better option is to point a browser to the printer’s IP address to access the device’s CentreWare IS embedded Web server. From here, you can monitor the status of jobs and manage various device settings, including the e-mail capability mentioned above — you can either import e-mail addresses address book from a file or tie the WorkCenter to your organization’s e-mail address book via an LDAP directory. You also can submit a print job via a browser, which comes in handy if using a PC that doesn’t have the correct drivers installed.

Although the base price for the WorkCenter 4150/S is $2,499, optional features like the fax and the ability to scan or fax from a networked PC bumped the as-tested price of our unit up to $2,997. Add these upgrades plus one of the aforementioned auxiliary paper trays, and the 4150/S becomes the $3,499 4150/X. (You can also add a 50-sheet finisher for $599.) All models in the 4150 family (except for the copier-only 4150/C) are upgradeable in the field.

Whether you’re looking to add a new multifunction printer to the office or replace a handful existing devices, the Xerox WorkCentre 4150/S offers a good blend of features for any small business.

Price: $2,499 base ($2,997 as tested)

Pros: Print around feature eliminates queue jams due to missing paper; can deliver fax and scan documents via e-mail

Cons: may have DHCP configuration issues with some routers

Joe Moran spent six years as an editor and analyst with Ziff-Davis Publishing and several more as a freelance product reviewer. He’s also worked in technology public relations and as a corporate IT manager, and he’s currently principal of Neighborhood Techs, a technology service firm in Naples, Fla. He holds several industry certifications, including Microsoft Certified Systems Engineer (MCSE) and Cisco Certified Network Associate (CCNA).

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