Multifunction Printer Review: Xerox WorkCentre 6505N

by James Alan Miller

This compact Xerox multifunction printer isn’t as full-featured as its competition, but it delivers where it matters most, with outstanding print quality and ease of use.

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Every small business should consider investing in a multifunction printer. These versatile small business printers deliver a lot of bang for the buck in compact packages that don't take up much room in busy and often cramped offices.  The Xerox WorkCentre 6505 is a perfect example.

This networkable (USB/Ethernet) laser multifunction performed its duties as a printer, scanner, fax machine and copier with aplomb during our testing. It was extremely easy to use and setup and, while not the fastest printer in the world, it delivered very high-quality output.

Xerox designed the WorkCentre 6505 for small businesses and workgroups with up to seven workers. It offers the multifunction printer in two configurations: with duplexing (6505DN) and without (6505N). Duplexing lets you automatically print to two sides of a page without having to reload documents.

We reviewed the WorkCentre 6505N, which lists for $649 and costs about $100 more than the similarly configured Oki MC361 we reviewed in February.  The WorkCentre 6505DN sells for $749, and is well worth the extra cash if double-sided printing is something you'll be doing often.

While not nearly as fast or as much of a workhorse as the Oki MC361, the WorkCentre 6505N delivered far superior monochrome and color output.  The two-toned WorkCentre boasts a duty cycle of 40,000 pages per month -- about 5,000 less than the Oki -- but more than suitable for most small-to-mid sized offices and departments.  At 15.9 x 16.75 x 16.4 inches and 40 pounds it is far more compact and much lighter than the Oki.

Workcentre 6505N, multifunction printers
The compact Xerox WorkCentre 6505N delivers big when it comes to quality output.
(Click for larger image)

Like most laser multifunction printers today, the unit is rather tall. That's due to the layering of the 1200 x 1200 dpi scanning component on top of what is essentially a standard laser printer. It maxes out at a 600 x 600 dpi for color and black-and-white copying.

Powered by a 633MHz processor, the WorkCentre 6505 ships with 256MB of memory, which is upgradable to 768MB. It's compatible with Windows XP or Mac OS 10.5 or higher, and it works in Linux environments thanks to the included Xerox Global Print Driver. The printer offers PostScript 3 and PCL 6 emulation.

Multifunction Printer Resolution and Paper Handling

Xerox lists the device's print resolution at a rather odd 600 x 600 x 4 dpi. The company says the "x 4" component in its resolution specification signifies how the laser technology in the WorkCentre 6505 provides greater depth and richness to its output than you see in traditional laser printing.

Xerox says the printer's laser heads have the capability to change the size of individual dots, which allows the WorkCentre 6505 to deliver 16 different shades of color per pixel printed. Xerox claims this improves the rendering of (and the transition between) colors, shading and details of printed images.

The well-designed WorkCentre 6505 handles paper quite well. It prints a fairly standard 24 pages per minute for color and monochrome on Letter-sized media and 23ppm on A4-sized output. The paper cartridge at the bottom holds 250 sheets, which you can double through an optional ($199) attachment. Still, that’s far less than the 350-sheet native and 880-sheet total (when expanded) capability of the Oki.

You can also automatically feed up to 35 sheets of media in various sizes as well as manually input documents from 3 x 5 inches to 8.5 x 14 inches in size one page at a time. The paper output well holds 150 pages and -- unfortunately -- there is no mechanism for straight-through printing like with the Oki.

Multifunction Printer: Setup and Installation

Xerox provides clear setup and driver installation directions, which we always like to see. The setup CD compliments Xerox's bundled paper instructions with a check list that walks you through everything you need to do to get your printer ready.

Best of all, you don't have to pop out a print drum or black, cyan, magenta and  yellow toner cartridges to safely remove all the packing materials. Getting the multifunction ready for setup is a nice, clean and simple procedure.

Prepare the bundled cartridges by simply pulling out a few yellow plastic strings, for example. The front of the printer pops open to access the drum (or future paper jams), and you can access the cartridges through a conveniently-located door on the side of the unit.

After you load paper and attach the printer to your computer via a local USB or network (100 Base-TX Ethernet) connection, the setup disk does a nice job of walking you through installing the drivers and software. When you turn the printer on, you select the language and set the date and time through the front operations panel. You can also set the multifunction up for faxing, starting by inputting your fax number.  After installing the drivers and utilities, we loaded Nuance's Scan to PC Desktop software, which was available on a separate disk.

All in all, setup and installation took no more than 15 minutes or so.

Connectivity and Printer Consumable Costs

The WorkCentre 6505N's connectivity ports, including two for the telephone (faxing) line, are located in the back of the printer on the left side.  A second USB port, in the lower-left front of the flatbed scanner portion of the multifunction printer, lets you print documents from, or scan to, removable media.  This nice feature's becoming standard for these types of products.  It means you don't always need to be connected to a computer or network to use the WorkCentre 6505.

Like other printer manufacturers, Xerox does not bundle Ethernet or USB cable cables with the WorkCentre 6505. You do get the bowser cable, of course, and a phone cord.

Xerox rates the color cartridge output at 1,000 pages each, with replacements going for a $64.99 apiece. High-capacity versions of the cartridges rate for 2,500 pages, but sell for considerably more at $109.99. The black toner cartridge comes in at one capacity, 3,000 pages, for $105.99.

The cartridges are surprisingly compact and could easily fit in a desk draw, with room to spare. The Oki's cartridge output, by contrast, rate at 3,000 pages color and 3,500 black, but are much larger, just like that device itself.

Multifunction Printer Performance

As a scanner and copier, the Workcentre 6505 performed admirably and was easy to use; its front-side control panel and LCD are among the best and intuitive we've seen. But it's the print quality -- which affects nearly all the device's other functions -- where the WorkCentre 6505 really delivers.

Text was crisp and readable while colors nearly jumped off the page. We were particularly impressed by the printer's output regarding skin tones, which are notoriously difficult to render accurately. It is indicative of the device's overall excellence in matching what you see on the screen to the page.

The Workcentre 6505 pleasantly surprised us during speed testing. It wasn't quite as fast as the Oki, but it wasn't that far off either, and it blew the HP Officejet 7500A we reviewed  in January out of the water. Here's how the multifunction Workcentre 6505 did on variety of business tasks:

  • A single-page text document with a little color: 10 seconds
  • A single image- and color-rich page: 18 seconds
  • A five-page, mixed-media PDF with lots of text, pictures and graphics: 24 seconds
  • A six-slide PowerPoint presentation with a blue background:  27 seconds
  • A six-slide PowerPoint presentation with a white background: 24 seconds
  • A 58-page, mixed-media document: 2 minutes and 46 seconds

Those are excellent numbers that should meet the requirements of any small business.

Like other manufacturers, Xerox is pumping up its green credentials. With the Workcentre 6505, the company asserts its toner-only cartridges result in 80 percent less waste than comparable integrated print cartridges. Other than that, the Energy Star-compliant multifunction operates at a relatively low 375 Watts during normal operation, but powers down to a mere 65W in standby and 15W when in sleep mode.

Bottom Line

The Workcentre 6505 may not offer the larger paper capacity or monthly duty cycles of some other multifunction printers, but it does everything it's supposed to do well and, in a number of instances, better than many comparable models on the market. It's fairly fast, sturdy and compact, and it prints some of the best output we've seen at this price.

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This article was originally published on Wednesday Apr 20th 2011
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