The Xerox 6180/N is a gigantic, office-oriented color laser printer that may also fit into homes that have high-volume print needs. The base model, the $500 6180/N comes network ready, but for automatic double-sided printing, you'll have to upgrade to the 6180/DN, which costs $650. Both models produce quick prints--particularly in color--and boast impressive print quality. But the Lexmark C530dn is a better value: It includes a duplexer, is network ready and, at $500, costs less than the comparably equipped Xerox 6180/DN. The Lexmark and Xerox models are neck and neck in terms of print speed, but we found the Lexmark provides slightly better print quality.
The Xerox Phaser 6180/N is a monster of a machine, better suited for offices than for homes. The all-white printer sits 15.7 inches wide, 19.4 inches deep, and 18.5 inches tall, and weighs a hefty 62 pounds. Color laser printers tend to be larger than monochrome printers, because the four individual toner cartridges (black, cyan, magenta, and yellow) are arranged in a single row.
The main paper cassette pulls out from the front of the printer and holds up to 250 sheets of plain paper. You can adjust to hold sheets as large as legal-size. The front panel of the printer folds out to reveal a 150-sheet multipurpose tray--handy for one-off print jobs on media other than what you'd normally keep in the cassette. (Xerox offers an optional 550-sheet paper tray for a whopping $400.) The paper well in the top of the printer serves as the output tray, and a fold-out flap helps control long sheets.
The basic control panel comprises just a few buttons for navigating the menu, a two-line text LCD, and a wake-up button for nudging the printer out of power save mode. The menus mostly address maintenance issues and paper-selection options. The LCD constantly displays the various toner levels so you know when you're about to run out of a particular color, an incredibly helpful feature for preventing emergency ink refill runs to Staples.
The Xerox Phaser 6180 comes in two configurations, the $500 6180/N and the $650 6180/DN (Xerox is offering a $50 rebate on both models at the time of this writing). Both models ship with a 400MHz processor, 128MB of memory (upgradeable to 1GB), and Ethernet, USB 2.0, and parallel connectors. The 6180/DN model adds a duplexer for automatic double-sided prints, a great way to save money and trees.
Xerox offers two types of toner cartridges, standard- and high-capacity. Though high-capacity toner cartridges are obviously more expensive, they save you money in the end because the per-page cost ends up being lower. For the 6180 series, the standard cartridges (2,000 pages for color; 3,000 pages for black) cost $90. The 8,000-page high-capacity black cartridge costs $190, and the 6,000-page high-capacity color cartridges cost $196. This works out to about 2.4 cents per page for black prints and about 12.2 cents per page for color prints. Both costs are within the normal range for a color laser printer, but the Dell 3110cn's per-page costs are lower: 1.4 cents for black and 9.4 cents for color. The Lexmark C530dn's print costs are just slightly higher than the Phaser 6180/N's.