Workgroup printers tend not to be the friendliest-looking peripherals. The light and appealing Xerox Phaser 6280 colour laser, then, is fairly unusual.

From the crisp cream casing and rather elegant design (tall rather than wide, it gives the impression of being lighter and slimmer than the other models here, despite weighing a not insubstantial 29kg), to the colourful control panel replete with prominent green and red LEDs, the Xerox Phaser 6280 looks distinctly more welcoming than most workgroup printers.

The Xerox Phaser 6280's control panel itself only covers two lines, which can mean you have to spend a bit of time wading through menus in order to get to the feature you want. There are a lot of facilities included here, though, and network managers can exercise significant control over who uses the printer and how.

The Xerox has very impressive paper handling facilities. Besides the main 250-sheet tray, you have an additional multi-purpose tray that can take in an additional 150 sheets. This adds up to paper handling of 400 sheets as standard, which is excellent. But you can also bolt on another 550 sheets, should you wish, bringing this up to a hefty 950 sheets in all. And because of the Xerox's deep output tray (partly possible due to the height of the Phaser), up to 300 sheets can be collected.

It can't quite match the potential 1,300 sheets of the Kyocera FS-C5150DN, but in every other respect the Xerox Phaser 6280 was the best model for paper handling in our recently tested printers. The monthly duty cycle of 70,000 sheets isn't the largest, but it's sufficient.

The 256MB of memory is more than adequate for most tasks, and here too, Xerox provides its users with plenty of upgrade potential, the Xerox Phaser 6280 can be pushed up to a maximum of 1280MB, ensuring that businesses regularly printing out large graphics files should be able to kit out the 6280 to their satisfaction.

Networking is covered by the standard ethernet connection, although wireless facilities can be added for an extra £203. PCL can be driven at up to version 6, and PostScript 3 support is also provided. Operating system support stretches to Linux.

Performance

With a top rate of exactly 20 pages per minute (ppm), the Xerox is a very nippy text printer. This falls to a still palatable 14.3ppm with duplexing, only the Canon i-Sensys LBP7750Cdn was better.

The text quality on the Xerox is excellent. Dark but still very sharp, the characters are fully realised, and the Xerox was strong across all detail levels and font sizes. If the Xerox is a very pleasing text printer, then it's more disappointing as a graphics model, and the rate for A4 colour images fell to just 9.1ppm. Neither was it particularly fast to print our PDFs.

We had to experiment with the settings on the Xerox in order to get the best graphics from it. The initial settings produced images that were too light and soft. However, with adjustments, we were able to get some very accurate shots, with a nicely balanced colour palette that brought out most of the details, but without ever seeming too much.

The one year warranty is onsite, and the Xerox doesn't let itself down on running costs, with black and colour pages being churned out at 1.7p and 8.4p respectively. These aren't the cheapest costs in the feature, but they're far from being the most expensive.

OUR VERDICT

Overall we liked the Xerox Phaser 6280. It's attractive to look at, the design works well, and the paper handling is superb. It works very well as a text printer, and if you're looking for a model with vivid text and excellent paper handling, this is an excellent choice.