Tektronix Phaser 850

Tektronix's newest laser printer, the Phaser 850, really tears through colour documents: for graphics, it managed 2.4 pages per minute - double the average for current colour lasers. It loses its lead when printing plain text: at 6.8 ppm, it's a half-page per minute slower than the average colour laser. The output quality of the shipping unit was also mixed. The 850's even, clean black text and its bright, accurate colours on non-photographic images were good, but colour photos were dark and grainy (although quality improves on the enhanced setting).

The Phaser 850 uses crayon-like blocks of resin-based ink instead of the toner powder or liquid inks most corporate colour printers use. To entice customers, Tektronix (now a Xerox subsidiary) offers free black wax for the life of the unit. Colour wax costs about 17 cents per page - in line with most colour lasers. The printer's other principal consumable - a maintenance kit - adds only a negligible tab.

Our network-ready 850N costs $6534. For $8626, the Phaser 850DP comes with additional memory and a duplexer, while the $11,242 850DX adds a 500-sheet paper-feeder and a hard drive that allows for collating or caching documents.

The Phaser 850 is more expensive than its rivals, but you'll quickly make up the difference with savings on consumables. The fast graphics speed makes it a good choice for offices that print lots of spot colour, and the free black ink will make the unit appealing to people willing to sacrifice text-printing performance.

Tektronix Phaser 850

Price: $5361 (850N); $7024 (850DP); $9077.20 (850DX)Phone: 1300 369 519URL: www.tektronix.xerox.com

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