There are stacks of choice when it comes to buying a printer, but if you are looking toward the higher end, something for a professional graphics market, then a lot more has to be considered. Speed plays a big part, as does quality of the prints, but if you are churning out volume then running costs are very important. The Xerox Phaser 8860 that we take a look at here, is right up there with all the superfast lasers, but it offers something a little different... just what makes the prints from this machine stand out from the crowd?
I am going to deal with the 8860's main features, and deal with the question of how each feature performs as we go. This is a slightly different way of doing things, but it means I can give you instant answers to your questions as they come along. The 8860 ADN costs £1,699 and offers 10/100 Ethernet connections and USB2. I tested the machine on an Intel based Apple Mac, and the software install and connection over both ethernet and USB performed admirably. There were no set-up problems at all.
This printer included automatic duplexing (double-sided prints) from the box. This is a really useful feature when report printing, so was a welcome addition. IT also gives you the ability to save paper (more on the money saving later). With a duty cycle of 120,000 prints per month and a quoted speed of 30ppm in both mono and colour, this reads like a true powerhouse. I cannot vouch for the duty cycle, but the speed is pretty much spot on. Black text resulted in an average of 27ppm, add in some graphics and after processing time we got 25ppm. Colour pages mainly consisting of text came in at 26ppm, with graphics added this dropped to a respectable 24ppm. So if you need speed, the 8860 delivers.
Quality is also very important and at 2400dpi the resolution should be superb. I found text to be great at point sizes 8 and above, but below this, not as crisp as some cheaper laser printers. When printing business graphics and photos the 8860 shone. Smooth gradations, very colour accurate, punchy graphics, all the traits of a high class printer. Now we get to the exciting part, and where the 8860 really stands out from the crowd. This printer uses a solid ink technology, instead of normal laser toner. It uses wax type blocks that you drop into the top of the printer, so loading it is very clean and easy. It then heats the wax and melts it onto the page. Two minor problems with this are the smell, which is not that nice, plus you cannot overprint your printouts on a standard laser or laminate them. If you try this, the print will smear into a gooey mess. That aside, the quality is outstanding. The print is laid onto the page in such a way that you get a slightly raised feel to it. When printing large areas of solid colour or photos this also shows off the finish which has a nice gloss look to it. So the 8860 delivers again, with awesome quality printouts.
The Phaser 8860 offers true Adobe Postscript 3, Mac and PC compatibility, speed, cheap running costs and quality prints. I would not recommend it for the home market, due to the smell, but then it is not aimed at this sector. For small to large office based companies, or graphic design pros, the 8860 really is worth the money. You will be amazed at the consistently good prints, and that raised effect that jumps off the page at you, has to be seen to be believed. This is a lot of money to invest, but well worth it.