The Xerox Phaser 6180MFP is a higher-end colour laser MFP offering good performance and features. But it's not for the budget-conscious.

Xerox's Phaser 6180MFP closely resembles the Dell Multifunction Colour Laser Printer 3115cn, but it has a better overall design, faster text printing, and better-looking (though slower) graphics printing.

Unfortunately, the Xerox Phaser 6180MFP also costs more to buy and maintain.

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The Xerox Phaser 6180MFP's tested text speed of 28.3 pages per minute (ppm) left even its Dell near-twin in the dust. The results - deep black, precise - were lovely. The Xerox Phaser 6180MFP also copies and scans more quickly than the Dell does, and its results are equal or better.

Graphic images test the Xerox Phaser 6180MFP's mettle, as it managed just 1.7ppm printing a small high-resolution colour photo. Nevertheless, the output is worth the wait: colours stay fairly true, and pesky background patterns (which commonly develop when a laser tries to mix colours) are fairly unobtrusive.

The Xerox Phaser 6180MFP measures nearly 740mm tall and occupies a large footprint as well. The space is not wasted: the Xerox Phaser 6180MFP comes with a 250-sheet input tray and a 300-sheet output tray, as well as a 150-sheet multipurpose tray and a 50-sheet automatic document feeder.

Its 550-sheet optional tray comes with a pedestal base so the entire assemblage can stand on the floor; this thoughtful design is expensive, though. A duplex option will also cost, as will a standalone version of the Phaser 6180MFP with duplex included.

The layout and most of the button labels on the Xerox Phaser 6180MFP's control panel make sense. One confusing arrangement, however, gives the button for going back a step an icon label on the control panel but a word name in the documentation. The four-line monochrome LCD shows toner levels, menu items, and status. Some of the error messages that pop up are hard to decipher - and not all are documented.

A dual-panel front design reveals first the Xerox Phaser 6180MFP's multipurpose tray and then the printer's engine. The transfer belt is attached to the sturdily supported inner panel, which you must open to replace the consumables. (We're just waiting to drop a cartridge on this major part and damage it.)

The real pain with replacing the toner cartridges is the cost. The Phaser 6180MFP comes with standard-size cartridges, specifically a 3000-page black cartridge and three 2000-page colour ones. And running costs are high, even in a business setting.

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