Xerox ColorQube 8900/ASM review

The ColorQube 8900 multifunction peripheral (MFP) is a solid-ink printer, with a snappy 44ppm colour printing speed, 7in colour touchscreen and 120,000 page monthly output.

Software issues

Things didn't go too smoothly when we came to installing software. Xerox supplies network print and scan drivers on a CD, but its install program couldn't automatically discover our printer on our simple test network. After using the touchscreen to verify that the MFP had leased an IP address, we had to manually enter it into the installer. However, this came up which the error message 'no supported printer', before going on to successfully install the print driver.

Xerox

We had problems with the software, but Xerox claims to have ironed these out

We were able to print, but there remained a problem with the TWAIN scan driver, which crashed whenever we tried to access it. We tried an alternative test PC and a different network before raising the issue with Xerox, who told us the early test units had shipped with a driver issue affecting printing and scanning, and "this problem had been rectified for future shipments".

Performance

Printing to the 8900 proved to be painless. Xerox's driver gathers everyday options onto a single, simple tab which should make sense to even the least tech-savvy users. The default print settings are for Enhanced quality, but also for duplex finishing, which should help keep paper costs down. Users also have the option to download GreenPrint software, which provides an interactive preview in which on-page graphics or whole pages can be suppressed for further cost reductions.

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Test results

Time to first print: 25s

Document speed: 19.7ppm (default)

Colour speed: 11.2ppm (default)

Cost per page: 0.6p (Black) 6p (Colour)

For those not familiar with Xerox's solid ink system, the 8900 prints using crayon-like blocks of coloured ink which are solid and safe to handle at room temperature. There's no need for the plastic casings used in conventional toners or ink cartridges. Adding ink to the printer is as easy as pressing the ink button, waiting for the cover to spring open and then inserting the blocks into the correct slots; they're keyed to prevent confusion.

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