- Very easy to set up and use;
- solid ink sticks much less hassle than toner cartridges;
- huge amount of support information supplied, including video instructions;
- excellent performance and great output quality
- Solid ink finish difficult to write on;
- requires a substantial warm-up period when operated from cold;
- no handles or easy grips;
- mismatched paper sizes caused some headaches
The new WorkCentre C2424 from Xerox is the first multi-function device (MFD) to be based on the company's exclusive solid-ink technology. It’s a high quality yet cost-effective all-in-one unit that prints, copies and scans A4 pages in full colour while offering many of the features of far more costly products. Until now, the choice has been between budget A4 inkjets at a few hundred, and expensive A3 lasers costing many thousands of pounds. Designed for workgroups of around twenty people, the C2424 sits between both camps, offering a more robust, powerful and flexible solution than an inkjet with the duty-cycle and range of features you’d expect from high-end office equipment -- only in an A4 format.
Starting at £1,999 (ex. VAT), the WorkCentre C2424/ADN copies and prints at up to 24ppm in both colour and monochrome. Scanning is at up to 20ppm, with automatic double-sided support in all functions. 10/100 Ethernet and USB 2.0 connections, Adobe Postscript Level 3 and PCL5c languages come as standard, driven by a 500MHz Power PC processor with 40GB of hard disk storage. At £2,599 (ex. VAT), the ADP model increases input paper capacity from 625 to 1,150 pages with the addition of a third paper tray. A wheeled storage cart is also included, converting the C2424 into a floor-standing unit. System memory is also increased from 256MB to 512MB, facilitating an increase in the maximum scanning resolution from 300dpi to 600dpi. At the top of the range, the £2,949 (ex. VAT) C2424/ADX is physically identical but comes bundled with Scansoft's OmniPage Pro 12, Paperport 9 and Image Retriever software.
The level of documentation and features on the C2424 is impressive. The accompanying CD-ROM contains a wealth of clear, well presented information that takes you from setup through the use of all the major functions all the way to troubleshooting -- often with video guides. For example, should you suffer a paper jam, a supplied animation shows you exactly which cover to open and where you’re likely to find the offending page.
Xerox’s usual large backlit LCD control panel provides full yet uncluttered information in plain English (among other languages). Illuminated control buttons are clearly set out and devoid of confusing symbols, while its built-in HTTP-based server allows full control of the unit, as well as the retrieval of scanned documents, from any Web browser.
One minor problem marred our experience with the C2424. On scanning a test document, we found that the system defaulted to letter-size paper, refusing to print and leaving us with no obvious way of rectifying the situation. A call to Xerox revealed that mismatches like this are subject to a three-minute timeout, which can be reduced to zero seconds in the configuration menu, thereby forcing an immediate print on whatever paper is currently installed. It’s a shame there’s no way to override this manually without having to delve into the menu system, as in other respects the usability of the C2424 is top-notch.
In our tests, the C2424 was able to deliver the first page of a document in only 6 seconds in its 'fast colour' mode, and in 10 seconds when photocopying a single-sided document from the automatic sheet feeder. This impressive result is important given the relatively large proportion sub-5-page documents and single-page copy jobs.
In its fastest mode, the C2424 easily reached its rated speed of 24ppm, dropping to about 18ppm in 'standard' mode. A full-page colour photograph printed with the maximum quality settings was ready in 36 seconds, while a 10-page double-sided monochrome document copied in 45 seconds using the automatic document feeder. It can scan both sides of a document at the same time and scan and print simultaneously, which is ideal for multi-user environments.
Output quality from the WorkCentre C2424 is very good. Inkjets may have the edge on special papers, but in colour on standard office photocopier paper or transparencies, the C2424 is hard to beat. One colleague in the ZDNet UK office remarked that a high-quality monochrome text photocopy looked 'better than the original'.
If you don't want to buy consumables on a 'pay as you go' basis, you can opt for an ink-included 'per-click' deal with one of Xerox's dealers.