capsule review

Xerox Phaser 3150 Monochrome Laser Printer

At a Glance
  • Xerox Phaser 3150

    PCWorld Rating

    This otherwise acceptable printer has better-featured, cheaper competition.

Xerox's Phaser 3150 monochrome laser printer is a good printer in many respects, but its price is high for what you get. Larger offices--in which this model might function as a local unit for an executive, say--probably have enough additional hardware to fill in the gaps, but smaller offices will want a fuller-featured model.

Installing the printer is pretty easy. The setup poster's largely pictorial format is mostly clear. Like many corporate-bound printers, the installation is more à la carte than automatic; you have to choose the type of connection and select among various utilities as part of the process. I installed the Status Monitor, which deposits an icon in Windows' System Tray and puts up on-screen alerts when something is awry. It also offers troubleshooting help at any time.

The Phaser 3150 performed reasonably well in our tests. Its print times--21 pages per minute for text documents, 5 ppm for graphics--were a bit above the average compared with other monochrome laser models we've tested to date. Its print quality fared better: Text looked perfectly smooth, crisp, and black. Photos appeared a little washed out and sometimes showed banding, but shading was nicely balanced.

The design didn't fit the price, though: Many basic parts seemed cheap or badly designed. The 250-sheet, letter/legal input tray in our test unit rattled noisily whenever I opened or closed it, and it flexed a lot, too. Its length and width markings are hard to see. The front panel has two parts--the multipurpose tray, and the door to the toner cartridge assembly. The latter's handle looks more like a nameplate, so many people will end up opening the multipurpose tray instead. Even the documentation does not differentiate the two sufficiently. The toner cartridge in my model, though seated properly, required a lot of effort to remove.

Cost per page is high. The printer comes with a full-size, 3500-page-capacity cartridge--a nice touch, when most models in this price range offer smaller starter versions. A replacement cartridge of the same capacity costs $100 (2.8 cents per page); a 5000-page cartridge costs $115 (2.3 cents per page).

The real problem with the Phaser 3150, however, is what it doesn't offer. You can't buy additional input trays, and you can't perform duplex printing--even manually--and you can't add a duplexer either. Parallel and USB connections are standard, but ethernet is optional. You can't even upgrade the memory (32MB is standard). This largely static configuration might be sufficient for a single user, but more versatile models are available--and many cost less as well.

--Melissa Riofrio

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At a Glance
  • PCWorld Rating

    This otherwise acceptable printer has better-featured, cheaper competition.

    Pros

    • Very crisp, black text
    • Comes with full-size toner cartridge

    Cons

    • Pricey for what you get
    • No duplexing features
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