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 Xerox Phaser 3150 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 Xerox 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. The Xerox Phaser 3150's 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 Xerox Phaser 3150's 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 Xerox Phaser 3150's 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 Xerox Phaser 3150 comes with a full-size, 3500-page-capacity cartridge - a nice touch, when most models in this price range offer smaller starter versions.


The real problem with the Xerox 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.