Minolta-QMS Magicolor 6110

This hefty color laser produces striking color graphics and top-quality text documents

WHAT'S HOT: If your office is one of the few that need to print other than standard 8.5-by-11-inch letter-size or 8.5-by-14 legal-size pages, the Magicolor 6110's ability to produce 13-by-19-inch documents (that's even larger than tabloid-size pages) is a dream come true. It prints crisp, black text with near-perfect detail, sharp, narrow lines, and graphics with fine shading and lifelike color. And unlike many laser printers, the 6110 produces attractive gray-scale photos. With 256MB of memory--far more than the typical 32MB or 64MB of most color lasers we've tested--the unit should be able to support network users hammering away all day long without any logjams. Though the printed manual focuses mainly on setup, Minolta provides extensive online documentation, including videos that show how to perform common maintenance tasks. And as you'd expect from a printer geared toward graphics professionals, its driver provides a number of color space options for approximating the printer's final color output on your monitor. The 6110 also has a nifty e-mail feature: Once configured on a network and an office e-mail server, it notifies users when their print jobs are complete.

WHAT'S NOT: The 6110's slow graphics speed could be inconvenient for an office that prints large quantities of color documents. At 0.9 pages per minute, the 6110 only matches the speed of Minolta's bargain-priced 6100 DeskLaser. Every other color laser we've tested in recent years beats this pace handily, with our fastest printers running full-size graphics pages at 2.8 ppm. Furthermore, based on the 6110's $4499 price, we expected its average text speed of 9.5 ppm to be better; faster and much cheaper color lasers produce text pages at closer to 12 ppm. Our only other complaint concerns the printer's Byzantine control panel menus and buttons. Fortunately, few people in your office (other than your IS staff) will have any reason to use the control panel, since almost all of the user settings are accessible in the driver.

WHAT ELSE: At first sight, the Magicolor 6110's price seems rather out of step with other printers on our chart. But for a printer capable of producing documents in such large formats, the 6110 seems on a par with other models in its class. Minolta offers a series of useful but expensive accessories: One or two stackable 500-sheet feeders can be used underneath the main unit for $629 each; with at least one 500-sheet feeder installed, you can also add a 13-by-19-inch-compatible duplexer for $839. Minolta sells a $199 scanner attachment that converts the 6110 into a color copier, and you can purchase an optional 2.1GB internal hard drive for $349. The drive is useful for storing scores of print jobs and fonts, or enabling features such as printing a proof copy before printing a complete run.

The Magicolor 6110 is immense, as it must be to accommodate such enormous paper sizes. At 24 inches wide, 26 inches deep, and 17 inches high, and weighing more than 110 pounds (without its accessories), you'll need a large, sturdy table--typical office-cube prefab furniture won't cut it. In spite of its mammoth size, the 6110 completes its print jobs with a small whooshing noise instead of the clank and screech of many color lasers.

UPSHOT: At $4499, the 6110 is no impulse buy. However, if your office folks need to proof lots of graphics and your spreadsheet jockeys print pages that can profit from the larger page format, this printer could be extremely useful.

By Dan Littman

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