Xerox Phaser 3150 review

Price when reviewed

The sub-£200 laser market has been a busy place of late, with the Samsung ML-5120 and Dell’s 1700n doing their best to uproot the Kyocera FS-1020D from the A List. Xerox’s foray into single-user, low-volume mono printing is the Phaser 3150, which is compact, quick and cheap.

Xerox Phaser 3150 review

The Phaser 3150 has 32MB of RAM and a 166MHz processor – more than enough in a printer that will never serve a workgroup with more than a few people. Likewise, the 250-sheet paper tray isn’t designed for a busy office. However, there’s a 50-sheet manual feed tray and, for heavier media, a straight-through paper path to avoid folding heavy paper within the printer mechanism.

Build quality of the Phaser 3150 isn’t the best we’ve seen – the multipurpose feed tray and the cover that opens the straight-through paper path are flimsy, and we have concerns about the durability of both.

Front-panel features are rather lacking too – just two LEDs make diagnosing problems with the printer difficult. Thankfully, that’s largely remedied by the excellent supplied software, including Xerox’s Status Monitor. If the printer develops a problem, a descriptive message pops up. As with the printer driver itself, it’s a touch utilitarian, but only those who prize form over function will mind. A remote control application is also included, which is slightly strange considering the Phaser 3150 comes without built-in LAN capabilities, but it will be useful for those who connect it to a dedicated print server.

We’re used to seeing laser printers fall slightly short of their quoted print speeds, so it was a pleasant surprise to see the Phaser 3150 exceed the quoted 20ppm on every test we ran. Our 50-page plain text document printed at a rate of 21.8ppm, and adding a letterhead graphic had no effect on speed.

Smaller documents printed even faster, and we were impressed when our 12-page Excel document, a complicated file including multiple worksheets, graphs and charts, printed in just 45 seconds (slightly more than 23ppm). Even better, small black text on grey backgrounds printed legibly, although dithering was at best noticeable, and at worst highly distracting.

A DTP document combining graphics and text was generally acceptable, although the contrast from coloured text was too light. However, there’s a useful option in the printer driver to print all text as black, which solved the issue. Images printed with few problems, although banding was noticeable on a number of occasions. The Phaser 3150 has a maximum interpolated resolution of 1,200dpi, although in practice most users won’t notice the difference between the highest setting and the standard 600dpi mode.

The Phaser 3150 has a significant advantage over Kyocera’s FS-1020D in terms of price, and if you can live without duplexing facilities then it’s a good choice. Indeed, the only reason it didn’t unseat the Kyocera from the A List was the cost per page, which is either 1.5p or 1.9p depending on whether you use the high-capacity or low-capacity cartridges respectively. We’re also concerned that users printing complicated images will be disappointed by the quality. However, the Xerox is the cheaper of the two, and if you don’t expect to print hundreds of pages per week, the Phaser 3150 is a fine alternative.

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