When you think small business printer, you generally think inkjet or laser. The Xerox WorkCentre 6027 Color LED Multifunction Printer (MFP) defies that notion. It delivers laser-printer performance, but it's neither a laser printer nor an inkjet. Rather, it uses an LED print engine to power its printing and copying functions.
A bit of background before we dive into the review: Xerox product manager Gary Starkweather invented the laser printer in 1969 when he came up with the idea that a laser could "write" an image directly onto a copier's photoconductive drum. But a laser isn't the only way to do that with light.
An array of LEDs (light emitting diodes) that spans the width of a sheet of paper can also create an image on a photoconductor. While LED-based printers don't need a complex mirror system to shift the laser beam, large LEDs meant lower print resolution, generally 300 dpi. Plus, if enough LEDs burned out, print quality suffered noticeably. But today LEDs are both smaller and have a longer life; thus LED-based print engines are becoming more popular.
Not a Typical Small Business MFP
The WorkCentre 6027 MFP's LED engine combines laser-like speed, and sharp 1200 x 2400 dpi print resolution (600 x 600 dpi when copying), with a very reasonable price tag. Sweetening the pot, the WorkCentre 6027 MFP provides four-functions—adding fax capability to the print, copy, and scan features.
The WorkCentre 6027 (MSRP: $399) commands a modest footprint on your desk, measuring 16.2- x 17.2- x 15.3-inches. At 37.3 pounds, your desk should be somewhat sturdy, and it's a good idea to have help moving the MFP from the box to where it will reside; the installation guide shows two people lifting it.
The Xerox WorkCentre 6027 Color LED Multifunction Printer
The printer includes four starter-set toner cartridges, which yield about 500 pages—somewhat less than what you can expect to get out of full-sized replacement cartridges. Xerox estimates that black cartridges will yield about 2,000 pages and color cartridges about 1,000 pages each. Replacement cartridges cost $77 for black and $55 for each color cartridge.
Xerox shipped our review unit with the starter cartridges already installed, which is convenient. Most small business multifunction printers don't ship with a USB cable, but the WorkCentre 6027 comes with a power cord, a telephone cord for the fax, and the USB cable. If you decide that's the connectivity option you prefer, you're ready to install the MFP right out of the box.
The printer also includes print and scanner drivers for Windows and the Mac OS, and the Scan to PC Desktop 12 utility set—a collection of applications from Nuance that consists of PaperPort 14SE, OmniPage SE OCR, PDF Viewer, and Image Retriever.
Quick Small Business Printer Setup
Once you unpack the WorkCentre 6027 MFP, getting it up and running is an easy process. It includes an installation guide, but if you've setup printers before, you really won't need it. The installation veers slightly from the norm when it instructs you to hook up the USB cable (if you're connecting via USB) before you launch the install. Usually, this takes place during the installation process.
The WorkCentre 6027 lets you connect using USB, Ethernet, or Wi-Fi. Mobile printing is also available using Apple AirPrint, Google Cloud Print, Xerox PrintBack, or the Mobia Print Service Plug-in. A USB jack located on the front of the MFP lets you print directly from a thumb drive or portable USB hard disk. We connected via USB cable, put paper in the paper drawer and answered a few questions (language, location) on the MFP's large 4.3-inch color touchscreen, and we were ready to install the software.
The 120-sheet capacity paper drawer accommodates up to legal size paper. The output area holds up to 100 sheets, so you don't have to worry about output overflow except with very long print or copy jobs. The WorkCentre 6027's 15-sheet automatic document feeder (ADF) provides acceptable, though not exceptional capacity. One sour note: the ADF does not duplex and neither does the printer. We expect any business printing device to offer duplexing, something that even most hundred dollar inkjet AiOs and printers include.
Above-par Small Business Printer Performance
While we're disappointed in the lack of duplexing and the skimpy paper drawer capacity, we have a very different and positive take on Xerox WorkCentre 6027's performance and image quality.
Xerox rates the WorkCentre 6027 at 18 pages per minute (ppm). We use a subset of the ISO (International Organization for Standardization) testing procedures to time several runs of both the Word and Excel document suites, and then we average the results. Our results were just a touch over the Xerox results—18.3 ppm. While that's not the fastest laser or LED results we've seen, it's quite respectable for an MFP that sells for about $250 (street price).
We're also impressed with the image quality of the test documents we printed. We tested on a variety of papers—including $3 per ream copy paper and $15 per ream Hammermill Digital Color Copy paper. Colors printed accurately on both paper types, though they were somewhat under-saturated on the inexpensive paper.
Printing on the more expensive Digital Color Copy paper generated nicely saturated colors and images with more detail in the shadows. For important reports and presentations, we recommend spending the money on high-quality paper—as with most printers and MFPs, you can see a visible difference in image quality.
Using the included utilities, scanning was easy to perform, and accurate in both color accuracy and detail. You can scan in a variety of image formats, which is useful if you intend to use the scanned output in different types of applications. The TWAIN-compatible scan driver lets you scan using Picasa 3's Import function as easily as the utility Xerox provides.
With many MFPs, copying is a frustrating study in patience. The WorkCentre 6027 trades a bit of resolution for speed—resolution drops to 600 x 600 dpi during copying—but both image quality and copy speed are more than acceptable. Clearly the copy function is more than just an afterthought.
Review Results: Xerox WorkCentre 6027
We like the WorkCentre 6027. The output—while not photo quality—is excellent. If you use it to print reports with graphics, or fliers with an embedded photo, you'll be very happy with the results on most paper types. And the WorkCentre 6027 is Postscript 3-compatible, a plus if you work with design programs like Quark or Adobe Creative Suite.
However, the WorkCentre 6027's low-capacity paper tray is a detriment in an MFP that operates at 18 ppm. More important is the lack of automatic duplexing—a must-have feature for a business printer, especially if you need to copy or fax double-sided documents.
With a little online searching, you can buy the WorkCentre 6027 for as little as $250 (at the time we wrote this review). That's very inexpensive for any color laser/LED MFP. Toner costs and capacities are in line with other laser/LED printers in this price and performance range, but for the most part, the cost per page using inkjet models will be significantly less.
That's a fair amount of pluses and minuses. We think the WorkCentre 6027 will be a good fit if you primarily work with single-sided documents, and if you need superior quality for reports with graphics, or for single-sided fliers or sell sheets that need photos or other graphic images.
em>Ted Needleman published his first review in 1978. Since then, he has written several thousand hardware and software reviews, columns, articles on using technology, and two books. He has no intention of stopping any time soon.
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