Xerox WorkCentre 3320/DNI
Xerox's WorkCentre 3320/DNI is the most expensive printer in our round-up right at the $400 limit. However, you can probably hammer down its cost over time by using some of the rather forceful economic features (so long as you don't find them overly annoying).
By default, the WorkCentre goes into a power-saving sleep mode often. There is a green button that lights up on the side panel whenever the printer spins down. This is configured to happen after just one minute of inactivity. Push the button to wake the printer up, or it'll come back on automatically whenever a job is received. There is a delay, however, and sometimes it needs to warm back up, depending on how long it napped. Expect to wait 15 to 20 seconds, which could become significant in a shared office environment. Then again, some organizations are bound to prioritize maximizing energy efficiency.
Xerox pushes the eco-friendly angle even further with the addition of an Earth Smart mode, which is turned off by default. Unlike other printers with efficiency-oriented features, activating Earth Smart really does reduce paper waste, carbon footprint, and power consumption. It does this through double-sided printing, toner-saving functionality, and more subtle enhancements like skipping blank pages. All of that is activated by a single selection; there's no way to tinker in greater depth for more savings.
Once the printer is awake, it's very quick. The WorkCentre is able to complete our 30-page text document in 53 seconds. The 3320 had to pause in the middle of our monster graphics-heavy task, but still blazed over the line to finish in just 57 seconds, second only to the speedy Brother. It's even pretty quick in a duplex printing workload, smoking through our 30-page graphics test compressed to 15 double-sided pages in 1:45.
You have the option of seeing what the printer is doing while it works from a pop-up window, though it doesn't open by default. Instead, you can set it to open whenever something gets printed. But I actually like how it stays out of the way unless you specifically ask for it.
The WorkCentre also offers perfect paper handling, stacking pages neatly even on 100-sheet runs.
In terms of quality, the WorkCentre is average. It's neither the best nor the worst in our straight text and graphics tests. In all cases, text is readable and the graphics quality looks good, especially in lighter images that come through accurately without much washout.
The Xerox WorkCentre 3320/DNI is a good choice for anyone who doesn't mind paying a little extra up front in return for savings over time, or for someone who wants to feel good about saving as much of the environment as possible as they undertake one of the most environmentally-unfriendly tasks possible in the office.