*NEWS*3 NEW PRINTERS GO HEAD TO HEAD
*NEWS*3 NEW PRINTERS GO HEAD TO HEAD
2006-01-18 at 10:43:00 am #13786
Three New-And Inexpensive-Laser Printers Go Head To Head
As printer manufacturers compete to see who can build the best, but most inexpensive, color laser printer, the CRN Test Center took a look at three of these new units: Hewlett-Packard’s CLJ 3600n, Lexmark’s C524n and Xerox’s Phaser 6120. All start at a price of less than $1,000 and offer SMB users good performance and value, and solution providers easily can create comprehensive SMB infrastructures around any one of these units.
HEWLETT-PACKARD COLOR LASERJET 3600n
Hewlett-Packard’s Color LaserJet 3600n is a single-pass unit that includes networking at a list price of just $699. The CLJ 3600n is a 600 x 600-dpi printer with HP’s ImageREt 3600 image-enhancement technology offering brilliant high-gloss output. It offers this output at speeds up to 17 pages per minute in color and monochrome, with the first page finished in less than 14 seconds. USB 2.0 and Ethernet connectivity are standard.
Easy to set up, the CLJ 3600n’s print cartridges come pre-installed. There are only four print cartridges to manage-because the toner and imaging drum are integrated units-which means that the entire imaging system is refreshed when toner cartridges are replaced. The printer has a 250-sheet input tray and a 100-sheet multipurpose tray that allows the printing of labels, envelopes and other various media. A 500-sheet input tray and duplex printing are optional. Powered by a 360MHz processor and 128 Mbytes of memory, the CLJ 3600n has maximum monthly duty cycle of 50,000 pages. The printer measures 15.7 inches by 15.7 inches by 17.7 inches and weighs 60 pounds.
In the sub-$1,000 color laser printer category, the CLJ 3600n offers the best performance of the three units examined in this review. It prints monochrome and color text at the same speed as the Lexmark C524n but tends to process graphics slightly faster. While output is not as brilliant as HP claims, it is quite sharp. In summary, this is a great printer for the money and one that’s easily capable of supporting small workgroups.
HP’s PartnerOne channel program is broken into three tiers: Platinum, Gold and Business. Partner levels are assigned based on sales goals or special certifications. Margins can range from 10 percent to 18 percent depending on level and product line sold. Partners also have access to market development fund rebates (from 1 percent to 1.5 percent), membership rebates (from 0.2 percent to 0.45 percent) and System Builder Program rebates (from 2 percent to 4 percent). The vendor offers significant demo unit discounts, along with free training and several support options.
Lexmark recently introduced its new C520 family of color laser printers. The series offers single-pass color printing rated at speeds of up to 20 ppm in color and monochrome-a bit faster than HP’s CLJ 3600n. The C520 family of printers also offers true 1,200 x 1,200-dpi resolution-and it offers this performance in base models that cost less than $500. All models are network-ready, but the C524n includes networking and lists for $699, exactly what HP asks for its CLJ 3600n.
The Lexmark C524n is easy to set up and service, and just like the HP unit, Lexmark’s C524n has a 250-sheet input tray and a 100-sheet multipurpose tray. Additional paper drawers are optional. Powered by a 500MHz processor and a minimum of 128 Mbytes of memory, the C542n prints the first page in as little as 13 seconds. USB and Ethernet connectivity are standard, while duplex printing is optional. Slightly larger than the HP printer, the C524n measures 17.3 inches by 19 inches by 16.1 inches and weighs 64 pounds. It has a monthly duty cycle of up to 65,000 pages.
Though Lexmark claims its C524n is faster than HP’s CLJ 3600n, tests show that they offer roughly the same performance. However, Lexmark’s output is more vivid with better contrast and a higher duty cycle, making the C524n well-suited for high-volume workgroup use.
Lexmark offers their partners a two-tier option for partnering: Partners can choose to either become certified or to sell Lexmark products as a base partner. Partner levels are assigned based on program participation and commitments. All partners enjoy the benefits of sales support, a dedicated Partner Source partner portal, Profit Plus rebate programs, Quick Bid program, demo products and no-fee online certification.
Margins are determined by partner participation and are partner-specific. Lexmark declined to disclose margin range estimates.
“Partner business models are different, and Lexmark offers programs that are dedicated to the partner in all areas: margin enhancement, certification and increasing their services portfolio,” which makes profit estimates a wait-and-see proposition, the company said. There are no special requirements to become a partner, and channel program membership is completely free. Lexmark offers its partners and customers extensive support options, which should be more than adequate to solve any problems.
XEROX PHASER 6120
Xerox’s new Phaser 6120, which is aimed at small and midsize businesses, is not a single-pass unit. While the Phaser 6120 can’t compete performance-wise with either the HP CLJ 3600n or the Lexmark C524n, its diminutive size and weight is an attractive feature. It starts at just $499, and USB 2.0 and network connectivity are standard. The Phaser 6120 prints up to five pages per minute in color and 20 ppm in black-and-white. The first page is ready in as little as 22 seconds for color print jobs and 13 seconds for black-and-white jobs.
The Phaser 6120 is a 600 x 600-dpi printer with Xerox’s 2400 Enhanced print mode helping to liven up output. Because of its size, the printer is quite easy to install and is well-suited for a small office. This little machine measures just 16.9 inches by 13.4 inches by 15.6 inches and weighs only 44.5 pounds. Toner cartridges come preinstalled. Its small size permits just a 200-sheet multipurpose input tray, but a 500-sheet tray and duplex printing are also an available option. Powered by a 300MHz processor and 128 Mbytes of memory, the Phaser 6120 is rated for a monthly duty cycle of up to 35,000 pages per month.
Although the Phaser 6120 is definitely the slowest printer in this review, it’s also the least expensive-and its output is every bit as sharp and shows more realistic colors than the other two printers.
Xerox offers a three-tier channel program that is very much in tune with the needs of today’s VARs. The specific requirements for partner participation are based on quarterly sales volumes, training, Authorized Service Provider (ASP) status and maintaining a current demo unit. Resellers with a practice-based business in document solutions can earn additional rebates when passing training certification.
Xerox offers its partners margins in excess of 10 percent, but the big story behind profitability comes from Xerox’s willingness to help partners push add-on software and services to build a complete solution that offers additional, ongoing revenue. Xerox accomplishes those goals by providing numerous training and certification options, which help VARs to build a knowledge base that is quite usable for developing document solutions. There are no costs associated with becoming a partner, but to maintain a partner-level status, VARs are encouraged to participate in quarterly training sessions.