Xerox ColorQube 8870DN review
The solid ink technology in Xerox’s ColorQube printers offers an interesting alternative to standard colour lasers. Printing costs are low; the 8870DN delivers a full-colour page for 2.3p, around half the cost of most lasers. Solid ink is also a lot cleaner than laser toner and has a lower environmental impact as there are no messy cartridges to be disposed of.
The technology melts blocks of resin into reservoirs and then squirts them onto a rotating drum using inkjet-style print heads. The image is pressed onto the paper in one pass, where it solidifies almost instantly. Some of the resin bonds with the paper fibres and, as the remainder stands proud of the paper, the final image has a gloss and a slight texture. The resin blocks are placed in slots under the top panel, and more can be added even during printing.
The 8870DN is available as a single model that comes with an integral duplex unit, but the entry-level 8570DN costs around £460 and is a far better choice if you have low printing demands. Speeds and specifications are the same for both printers, but the 8870DN has a higher monthly duty cycle of 120,000 pages.
The top print speed of 40ppm is only achievable using the Fast Color mode, a low-resolution draft mode. The three other modes drop speeds substantially.To demonstrate this we printed a 24-page DTP style document with a mix of colour photos, graphics and charts. In Fast Color mode this took 36 seconds for a perfect 40ppm, while the Photo mode saw the speed plummet to 6.6ppm.
This affects mono as well as colour prints, with a 40-page Word document in Fast Color mode taking 60 seconds. The Standard mode dropped the speed to 31ppm, but output quality isn’t good enough for a final copy. Enhanced mode gives you deeper blacks, but speed falls even further to 20ppm.
The 8870DN is noisy and will irritate anyone unfortunate enough to have to sit next to it. In Fast Color mode each page is spat out at high speed by internal rollers and accompanied by a desk-rattling thump.
Output quality goes some way to make up for these deficiencies. The Enhanced and Photo modes deliver vibrant colours, deeper blacks than most lasers and a total lack of banding. Our only criticism is a slight graininess, which is noticeable on very small fonts and in colour photos, where it shows up as a slight loss of detail.
The ColorQube 8870DN’s low running costs mean you’ll soon recoup your initial outlay if printing high volumes. However, the big drop in speed when using anything but draft modes doesn’t make this the best choice for a general-purpose business printer.
|Resolution printer final||600 x 600dpi|
|Rated/quoted print speed||40PPM|
|Maximum paper size||A4|
|Cost per A4 mono page||1.3p|
|Cost per A4 colour page||2.3p|
|Input tray capacity||525 sheets|
|Operating system Windows 7 supported?||yes|
|Operating system Windows Vista supported?||yes|
|Operating system Windows XP supported?||yes|