An affordable multifunction printer with the scalability and features usually only found in more expensive copier-based products.
Fast colour laser engine; multi-tasking; Print Around feature; paper handling and finishing options; large colour screen with intuitive GUI.
Not so good when printing/copying photos; reflections on built-in screen
A4 colour laser MFP; 800MHz processor; 1GB memory; 1,600 page capacity from up to four sources; optional document finisher/stapler; up to 30ppm colour, 35ppm black and white; integrated 600dpi scanner with 50-sheet automatic feeder; integrated network print server; print/copy/scan/fax features.
There's long been a gap between cheap multifunction printers (MFPs) designed for personal use, and expensive copier-based products capable of being shared on large networks. It's a gap Xerox is hoping to bridge with its new WorkCentre 6400, which delivers the kind of scalability and features associated with high end MFPs, but in a much more affordable package.
Targeted at departmental networks and small to medium sized companies, the WorkCentre 6400 offers the typical mix of printer sharing plus walk-up copying and network scanning, with an optional fax modem if required. At its core is a 35ppm, A4 colour laser which is well made and, as a result, pretty hefty. Indeed it took two of us to lift the basic 6400S off the delivery pallet.
It also consumed an awful lot of desk space, although you can add a cabinet plus two extra 500-sheet paper trays under the single drawer supplied to make it freestanding if needed. Alternatively order the 6400XF (£5,349 + VAT) and you get all of these extras as standard, plus a 600-sheet finisher unit complete with a built-in stapler, making for a very capable device.
Xerox has learnt a lot about making printers over the years and the WorkCentre 6400 proved to be very capable and remarkably easy to live with. Paper is easy to load, with a pull-out feeder for envelopes and other awkward materials, while the 600dpi colour scanner on the top has a lift-up lid for flatbed use plus an automatic document feeder. Able to take up to 50 pages at a time, the feeder also lets you scan both sides of originals, although it does need to pass each page through twice in order to do so.
To get to the consumables you simply pull down the large front cover to reveal the four toner cartridges and associated drum units. These simply slide in and out, although locking them in place proved a little fiddly and we did get a bit messy when we were setting them up. Fortunately toner changes aren't required that often, especially if you opt for high capacity cartridges, rated at up to 14,000 pages.
Running costs are on a par with other mid-range colour lasers, the black cartridge retailing at £69.47 + VAT and the high capacity colour cartridges at £236.49 each. Maximum duty cycle is a massive 120,000 pages per month with a more conservative limit of 15,000 recommended if you want to avoid problems, which should be more than enough for most customers looking at this kind of printer.
Having unpacked the WorkCentre it took just over five minutes to power up after which we were guided through the basic setup via a built-in 8in colour touch screen. More advanced management is performed via a browser. The built-in display is also used for local copying which we found very straightforward thanks to clear, easy to follow, menus and large buttons, although the reflections from overhead lights did make the screen hard to read at times.
Of course, walk-up copying is only one of many options, and there are lots of choices when it comes to processing and routing scanned documents. For example, we were able to save scans in TIFF, PDF and other common formats, then distribute them via email or save them to a network share. You also get software to scan documents to a PC and process them on a remote desktop. In practice, however, we found it easier to scan to a pre-defined public folder on the 80GB hard disk built into the printer. No special training is needed - we simply followed the instructions in the quick user guide - and scans can simply be retrieved via a browser.
Xerox claims a print speed of up to 35ppm for black and white documents and 30ppm for colour. We didn't quite achieve those figures, averaging a little over 20ppm in our tests with the first page appearing in around 15 seconds on most of the documents we tried. Copying was a lot slower, mainly because scanning takes a while, although that's to be expected. Added to which we were able to use the WorkCentre for local copying and scanning even while it was being used as a printer, something you can't do on cheaper MFPs.
Another neat option is the so-called Print Around feature whereby print jobs needing special paper or attention don't hold up other jobs in the queue. We also liked the option to hold forms and other regularly printed documents on the hard disk, and to prompt for a PIN before confidential documents were output.
The only real disappointment was print quality. Text was crisp and colours were nice and bright, but photographic reproduction wasn't as good as we were expecting, especially when copying. That said, the results we got were more than adequate for most office requirements and there are plenty of settings that can be tweaked for those with the time and expertise to do so.
The WorkCentre 6400 is a very robust, usable and eminently shareable MFP. Print quality could be an issue for some, but overall we liked the machine and you'd certainly have to pay a lot more to get anything better.