Colour multifunction devices (MFDs) are common enough these days, but they tend to be either high-end, high-speed, laser-based products costing several thousand pounds, or much slower inkjet-based units costing several hundred pounds. Now Xerox has launched a colour MFD that sits firmly in the middle of this market landscape -- the WorkCentre 2424, which costs £1,999. The key to this combined printer, scanner and copier is its solid ink technology, which Xerox inherited when it bought Tektronix back in 1999. In fact, the WorkCentre C2424 is basically a Phaser 8400, with an added network scanner/copier. Solid ink technology has the advantage of simplicity and environmental friendliness: the non-toxic resin-based ink sticks load easily into individually shaped cyan, magenta, yellow and black slots, up to four at a time, while excess ink -- the only waste product bar a 100,000-page transfer belt -- can be safely binned. Another advantage of solid ink is that it can print on a wide variety of paper types, and on both sides of the paper -- the C2424 comes with a duplex unit as standard.
The WorkCentre C2424 prints and copies at up to 24ppm, and scans at up to 20ppm and is designed to service workgroups of up to about 20 people. The standard specification is impressive, including the aforementioned duplex unit, an automatic document feeder for the 24-bit, 600-by-600dpi scanner, a 500MHz PowerPC processor, 256MB of RAM and a 40GB hard disk, PostScript Level 3 and PCL5c, plus USB 2.0 and 10/100 Ethernet connections. The basic paper input capacity is 625 pages (100-page multipurpose tray plus 525-page cassette), but this is expandable to 1,675 pages. There are plenty of useful workgroup features on the C2424, including: password-protected colour copying; scanning to user desktops, email addresses or public folders; CentreWare Web-based management; a usage analysis tool; email notification of maintenance requirements; hard-disk-based document collation and job pipelining. The unit can handle multiple jobs at the same time -- scanning while printing a document, for example -- and provides real-time on-screen help if it needs attention during a print job. Another noteworthy feature of the WorkCentre C2424 is the sales model. As well as offering the product on a typical 'pay as you go' basis as regards consumables, Xerox is providing a 'contract' option, where companies can buy an ink-inclusive 'PagePack' for an agreed number of pages per year. Consumable usage over and above the contracted amount is charged in a similar manner to extra minutes on a mobile phone contract. We will be reviewing the WorkCentre C2424 in the next few weeks, so check back for our hands-on verdict.