Solid-Ink Print Levels the Color, Black-And-White Price Barrier

Xerox promises color printing at a black-and-white price with solid-ink sticks.

Historically, color printing for documents, presentations and other tasks has been more costly than black-and-white, to the point that organizations either avoid buying color-capable devices, or use authorization, physical or other security to control access to color output capabilities.

Xerox Corporation, based in Rochester, N.Y, today announced two new color solid-ink printer and multi-function devices that, according to Xerox, offer color output at the same price as black-and-white.

The new devices offering color printing at the same cost as black-and-white are the Xerox Phaser 8860 series color printer, which will retail for $2,499, and the Xerox Phaser 8860MFP color multifunction printer, with a retail price of $3,999. Pricing for six sticks of ink, with a projected 14,000 page yield, are $72 per color, and $216 for black-and-white.

The Phaser 8860 color printer is available now in North America and Europe; it will be available early next year in other regions. The MFP version will be available in North America and Europe starting in November, through Xerox direct sales, resellers, dealers, agents, and concessionaires.

Xerox has been working on the new crayon-link ink sticks, which last longer than previously, for nearly five years, according to the company.

/zimages/3/28571.gifTo read more about Xeroxs new technique for printing invisible ink, click here.

According to David Bates, vice president, Xerox Office Group, the Phaser 8860 color printer and Phaser 8860MFP are designed for "virtually any business with print volumes between 1,000 and 10,000 pages per month, and who depend on color for business proposals, collaterals and reports, as well as everyday documents such as e-mail, spreadsheets and more."

"If you compare the cost of the device and the supplies, the Phaser 8860 is far less expensive than equivalent color printers on the market today," Bates said.

"I would not necessarily describe the strategy as disruptive, but it is certainly a well thought out and clever strategy by Xerox," said Don Dixon, research director and agenda manager of Gartners Printing Markets group. "No one makes more toner and ink like Xerox, so this is a strong suit for them. They are leveraging their solid ink strategy to compete more effectively for color pages—the future of the business. They are doing this in the enterprise/office space just like what Kodak did a few quarters ago in the consumer space."

According to Xerox, the Phaser 8860 and 8860MFP print up to 30 pages per minutes, and the Phaser 8860MFP produces color prints that are Pantone color approved. Other features include automatic two-sided and "n-up" printing.

Tom Codd, director of outbound marketing for the LaserJet business for Hewlett-Packard said that solid-ink still has limits for use in office documents, including a longer warm-up time, higher energy costs to keep the ink warm or to re-warm it from sleep mode. He also said that solid-ink is hard to write on and highlight.

Daniel P. Dern is an independent technology writer. He can be reached at

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