Alternatives to laser printers are few and far between. Even inkjets have found it hard to move in on the high-end turf occupied by network lasers. However, to the mix we must add a third option, Solid Ink.
These models require you to place large slabs of ink (more like oversized crayons) into the relevant slots. The printer then melts the ink slabs and applies them to the paper. The Xerox ColorQube 8570DN uses this very technology. And does it perform well? Well, yes and no.
The bad first. The Xerox ColorQube 8570DN is very loud whenever it's in action - it's definitely the loudest printer we've tested yet.
And because of the way in which the ink has to be melted, the Xerox ColorQube 8570DN has to go through an elaborate warm-up routine every day. This takes quite a few minutes, and will prove annoying to those who just want to come into the office and run off a few prints.
Having said that, the Xerox ColorQube 8570DN's results are pretty good. Although the melted ink lacks the same permanence as laser output, the actual results are very polished.
Colour is vibrantly handled, and text is dark and sharp. The images don't always have the same subtlety as their laser rivals, and it's clear that work still needs to be done on the technology in order to make it as consistent.
The speed is good, even if the Xerox ColorQube 8570DN falls a long way short of the company's proud boasts. It says 40 pages per minute. We say 22.3ppm for text.
Colour graphics came out at 17.8ppm. Duplexing works effectively, and a figure of 19.9ppm showed that there was hardly any drop in performance, even printing to both sides of the page.
The interesting print technology doesn't mean that Xerox has skimped elsewhere. That's perhaps unsurprising given the massive dimensions of this printer - it consumed a larger footprint than any other model here.
Visually it looks quite conventional, though, with an attractive but simple control panel that allowed us to access the important features without having to scratch our heads too much.
You can't plug in a USB drive, and while the Xerox ColorQube 8570DN offers wired ethernet, Wi-Fi is only available as an option.
The paper handling facilities are immense. The standard paper tray can take 525 sheets - more even than the Kyocera Mita FS-C5250DN. Throw in the ample 100 sheet multipurpose feeder and you have a stunning 625 sheets available out of the box.
In addition, you can bolt on extra trays and increase this to an astonishing 2200 sheets. Even the Kyocera is thrown into the shade by the Xerox ColorQube 8570DN.
Just as important is the output facilities of 350 sheets, and the Xerox is excellent at keeping printouts safe.
Memory is vast, with 512MB as standard. This figure can be boosted to 2GB with optional upgrades. Even the 1GHz processor speed is extremely fast. The supported printer languages aren't as extensive as on some - PS3 and PCL5c are offered, but not PCL6.
The interesting ink technology makes for some good but not amazing running costs. Just 1.3p for a page of mono is pretty decent - even if it's bettered by the other models in this category.
However, 7.6p for a page of colour is a little steep compared to the competition at this price point.
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