Back 6 or 7 years ago, I bought a Xerox Phaser 8550 printer. It uses solid ink – like crayons almost – melted onto the page. It makes very vivid pages, although an ink jet is still better for printing photos. But for text and graphics, it’s better and faster than an ink jet. It’s also got a duplexer, and the aux feed tray can handle heavy paper. The printer came with “2 free years worth” of black ink blocks (2 large boxes). I guess I don’t use it as much as Xerox thinks I should, as I just loaded up the last black block from the first of the two boxes a few weeks ago.
Still, it has its drawbacks. It uses a lot of power – occasionally popping the circuit breaker if something else is on at the same time, like a hair dryer (also a pig) or vacuum cleaner. It does go into sleep mode, but then it take a while to warm back up. Still, it’s been a workhorse for me, and I wasn’t thinking of getting rid of it.
But Xerox sent me an offer I couldn’t refuse. Their latest replacement – the 8570 ColorQube (the Phaser name is now used on their laser printers) was on sale in a bundle with a full set of refills for $880. It’s faster, quieter, uses half the power, and is slightly smaller and lighter. In addition, Xerox sent me a rebate of $350 for my old printer. So in spite of it printing a lot for me over the years, I bid farewell to the old printer (sent it off with a friend) and welcomed the new workhorse.
I’m really liking the new printer, and I hope it does reduce my electric bill a bit. One thing I’m not as happy about though is the new solid ink. With the old printer, each block of ink had a unique shape, so you couldn’t load the wrong color into a slot. With this new model, all the colors have the exact same shape, so you have to look at the numbers and colors on the slot to make sure you don’t screw up (because it looks pretty tough to get one of those blocks out once it’s in the printer). Sure, it’s easy to make sure the yellow gets in the yellow slot, but in the semi-dark corner of the house where the printer sits, the magenta and black look an awful lot alike. With the old printer, you could be completely color-blind and not get it wrong! I’m sure the uniform shape saves them some money though.
But if that’s the only thing I can find wrong with it – and it is – then I think I’ve done OK. Pictures on the web don’t do the output justice – you have to see it in person. Xerox realizes this and will send you some free samples if you think you might be interested. Personally, I love this printer and the solid ink technology. It’s less messy – when the waste tank is full, you pull out a drawer and throw away the equivalent of some melted crayons; there’s no dust or grime when dealing with the waste or clearing a jam like with a laser. Not that I have had very many jams (except when feeding odd paper sizes – sometimes the old printer didn’t handle those well; I haven’t tried yet with the new one).
Also, the ink can sit for a long time, because it’s already dry, unlike some inkjet refills. It can also sit in the printer for a long time without an issue, again because it’s already dry.
The ink blocks aren’t cheap, but they last a long time (at least they did for me with the older printer). I was ordering ink maybe every other year.
For a lot of people, printing is something from the past. But for some of us, printing is still important. If you are in the market for a heavy duty color printer, but not for photo work, you could do worse than a ColorQube.