The WorkCentre 3550 is an excellent high-yield all-in-one capable of some impressive speeds and excellent quality reproduction across the board. A range of useful features makes it an extremely convenient solution for the modern office, although there is a price to pay for these kinds of benefits.
Excellent quality prints and scans; fast speeds; low running costs.
Expensive initial outlay.
Colour scan, copy, fax forward to email, network scan, PC fax (send only), print, scan to email, scan to/print from USB, walk up fax, 60-sheet duplex automatic document feeder, 500-sheet main tray, 50-sheet multipurpose tray, 1,200 x 1,200 scan resolution, 10/100 BaseTX Ethernet, USB 2.0 connectivity, 582 x 488 x 553 mm
The WorkCentre 3550 is Xerox's latest multi-function printer and has a clear emphasis on speed and productivity for small-to-medium workgroups.
It's a fairly big unit and is finished in a traditionally uninspiring beige and dark blue/black, the highlight of the design being the comprehensive control panel that offers a monochrome screen for status updates and a range of shortcut keys to common functions.
The WorkCentre 3550 is network-compatible with a 10/100 LAN port, offers a 550-sheet main tray as standard (expandable to 1,050 sheets with additional trays), a 50-sheet multipurpose tray, a 60-page automatic document feeder, and colour scan, copy and fax features accompanying standard printing.
Most of these components are very well designed, making it easier to fix issues such as paper jams without causing damage, as well as replacing parts like the toner or adding additional trays.
The 3550 also offers an auto-duplex mode, 60-page automatic document feeder and can scan automatically to USB, email, SMB and FTP. Xerox claims a duty cycle of up to 75,000 pages per month and speeds of up to 33ppm, so it certainly seems well kitted out for small-to-medium workgroups.
We ran a standard series of tests to judge performance as a printer, and noted some decent speeds. There's about a 12-second wait when starting up from cold, but a single A4 page typically outputs in about eight seconds.
A 20-page text document took just under a minute, which is admittedly some way behind the 'optimum' speed quoted but should still be fast enough for most.
Test files containing a mixture of text, graphics and photos took exactly the same time, so there are no additional overheads for more complex documents.
Quality was excellent, as you'd expect from a high-end printer from a company with Xerox's reputation. Small fonts were recreated cleanly, and consistently deep blacks and effective contrast mean that even more complex images and graphics were clearly distinguishable.
The copier function is also very capable and, although a single-page copy took around 10 seconds, a five-page job through the automatic document feeder was completed in just 18 seconds.
Quality is similarly impressive and a range of options are available to reduce or enlarge originals, enable background suppression for enhancing contrast from coloured paper, adjusting layout and tweaking copy quality.
The 3550 is also extremely capable as a colour scanner, and running through some high-resolution A4 photos took just eight seconds for a single page and 25 seconds for a five-page block.
Colour recreation and accuracy are excellent and, while it's essential to ensure that an original image or document is as clean as possible since imperfections are picked up quite easily here, a 1,200 x 1,200 maximum resolution means it would be suitable for most professional applications.
Running costs are reasonably low. The standard-yield cartridge lasts 5,000 pages and costs £116, resulting in cost-per-page of 2.3p. This can be reduced to 1.8p by opting for the high-yield cartridge.
There's very little to criticise when it comes to the 3550's speed and performance, and it's certainly capable of handling the majority of office-based tasks as well as bringing an impressive degree of convenience.
It is fairly expensive, however, so you're paying a clear premium for these benefits. If you'll make good use of the 3550's capabilities this expense could be justified, but there are a number of far cheaper (if less capable) competitors to be found elsewhere.