Xerox DocuPrint P8ex Laser Printer

Reviewed by: Howard Carson (updated March 2007)
Published by: Xerox
Requires: Windows 95 through Vista; parallel or USB connection
MSRP: US$349.00

Xerox moved deeply into the mainstream consumer, SOHO, and small business laser printer market with its P8 series. Built on an advanced print engine, this 8ppm monochrome laser printer is productive and easy to use. 1200 dpi image quality and Printer Control Language v6 (PCL6) enhanced printing features enable professional text and graphics output on a wide range of print media. The standard USB and parallel interfaces enable flexible connectivity and shared printing. The P8ex is expandable to meet changing needs with optional memory (up to 36 MB) and network connectivity via a Xerox external Ethernet adapter, in a small, quiet package rated at 8,000 pages per month.

The printer has some other notable features including 8ppm print speed, high paper capacity, 4MB standard memory, high yield laser print cartridge, advanced features with PCL5 or PCL6 emulation including custom watermarking and N-up printing. The Xerox P8ex also features a comparatively small desktop footprint, automatic power down to standby mode, easy access front and top covers, and a slide out SIMM RAM upgrade port.


We installed the printer via the USB connection without any problems. We also added a 16MB SIMM to the printer's base memory. Tests included text and images generated in or with Microsoft Word, Microsoft Publisher, and Adobe PhotoShop. We used a variety of paper stock — everything from cheap 20lb. copy paper, to ultra-smooth card stock, rough textured envelopes, and a number of different Avery specialty papers including stickers, labels, and high-gloss photo paper. The only paper feed problems we encountered occurred with some really terrible no-name copy paper (which doesn't feed properly on our Lexmark Optra S2455 network printer either - we're stuck with about 5 cases of the stuff, so anybody who wants it can come and get it).

The first thing we noticed is that the P8ex is fast. We hit the 8ppm rated print speed on simple correspondence (three-quarters of a page of B&W 12pt. text). The initial rendering routine in the P8ex driver is slower than it should be however, no matter what resolution you've chosen. Hopefully, Xerox will address the issue with a driver update. Note also that we really never came close to hitting the duty cycle of this printer (8,000 pages per month), so it tended to power down between output sessions, and that extended the first page cycle time.

Output from the P8ex was mostly faultless although we expected somewhat better B&W or grey scale rendering of color bitmap images. Bitmap reproduction was good but not exceptional. Text (all colors) and vector graphics (color and monochrome) were outstanding and rated at least as good and in most cases better than our benchmark Hewlett-Packard(R) 5L (HP5L).

For the record (and to provide some perspective) there are some versatile alternatives to fast desktop lasers. For example, in the same price range the latest crop of inkjet printers from Epson boast text and grey scale output virtually identical to the P8ex. The Epson 660, 840, 900, and 1520 also boast the finest desktop color output on the market today in their respective price ranges. Hewlett-Packard has not been able to touch Epson's color inkjet output technology for some time now, and it's a tribute to HP's marketing and PR that its printers still remain more popular than Epson's. For many people, $399 worth of color inkjet is a much better bet than a $399 B&W laser. Inkjet consumables are more expensive, but if you're in definite need of color, the Epson line is affordable, rock solid, and top drawer. Competing color inkjet models from Xerox (DocuPrint C11 & C15) and HP (970cse, 1120cxi, etc.) don't quite measure up to Epson's standard. Canon is lost somewhere, still struggling to sort out what constitutes top quality and reliability.

Cons: Image dithering and/or rendering of color graphics, especially bitmaps and low resolution (web) graphics needs improvement (the HP5L, if you can find one, is still the monochrome laser bitmap graphics king). Start up or first page cycle time is slow in low volume environments (less than 2,000 pages per month; 10-12 pages per hour).

Pros: Although the maximum paper size is limited to U.S. Legal (8.5"x14"), the P8ex can handle a wide range of paper thicknesses, formats, and standard sizes quite well (including A4, A5, B5/C5/#10 envelopes, Monarch envelope, DL envelope, 8.5"x13" Folio, and custom). Black text from 300 dpi all the way up to 1200 dpi is superb. Line art and gradients are reproduced extremely well. Memory is expandable via the addition of single SIMMs; it doesn't get any easier or cheaper (by comparison, HP still uses expensive proprietary memory cards). Toner cartridges are widely available from all the normal sources, and directly from Xerox. We didn't test the printer against all its marketplace rivals, so we can't officially give the P8ex a 'Best Buy' rating, but if you're in the market for a relatively small, serious SOHO or small office workhorse, the Xerox DocuPrint P8ex is a good choice. As of the March 2007 update to this review, their also getting scarce. Recommended.



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