The Xerox B215 ($249) is a monochrome laser printer made for a small work group. The B215 copies, scans and faxes, with a recommended monthly print volume of 3,000 pages. Business users will appreciate several office-friendly features, like a web-accessible administration tool, low printing costs and a price that won't kill your quarterly budget.
Xerox B215 design
The B215 measures 15.8 x 15.6 x 14.4 inches, which is typical for this class of printer. It's outfitted with a 40-sheet automatic document feeder (ADF) and a duplexer for two-sided printing. The paper cassette holds 250 sheets, and there's a one-sheet manual-feed slot for specialty media.
You will need room above the printer so you can lift the scanner lid and document feeder. Always check the flatbed before loading a document into the ADF for copying or scanning. The B215 will not prevent a paper jam in this situation. Instead, the ADF will draw the first page into the unit and damage it, causing a paper jam.
The B215 has a 3.5-inch color touch screen, which hinges upward a little short of 90 degrees. The big screen is handy for stand-alone operation, but it's not as elegant as a smartphone screen. It scrolls an entire page at a time, not continuously, and there's a roughly 1-second lag before the screen responds to a swiping motion.
Administrators can use the company's CentreWare internet service to manage the device via web browser. Enter the device's IP address, and you can manage settings, alerts and functions listed on the touch-screen menu. You cannot, however, create new custom buttons, which would be helpful. For example, using the Copy button requires three button presses. You go to a menu to select Color or Black and White and One Sided or Two Sided. Using a custom shortcut would be quicker.
Below the touch screen is a USB Direct port for printing from and scanning to a thumb drive. This feature has some limitations. Our six-page PDF, which is over 10MB in size, would not print from a USB thumb drive. A one-page PDF, however, printed in 23.9 seconds, a little longer than it took to print the six-page PDF from a PC.
The B215 supports the usual wireless protocols: Wi-Fi Direct, AirPrint, Google Cloud Print, Mopria and Android. Printing from my Android device did not require that I download the Xerox Print Service for Android.
Xerox B215 print speed
The B215 printed our five-page text document in 18.3 seconds, or 16.4 pages per minute (ppm), which was faster than the average of 21.4 seconds, or 14 ppm. Our Editor's Choice, the Brother MFC-L2750DW XL, printed the document in 16.2 seconds, or 18.5 ppm. Using its duplexer, the B215 printed a two-sided text document at 10.9 ppm; the Brother was faster, at 13.2 ppm, as was the HP LaserJet Pro M148fdw, at 12.6 ppm.
The B215 printed a six-page PDF of mixed text and graphics in 21.8 seconds, or 16.5 ppm. This was much faster than the average of 39.9 seconds, or 9 ppm. The Brother MFC-L2750DW XL was slightly faster, at 20.3 seconds, or 17.8 ppm. Printing the same document using the duplexer, the B215 made a two-sided print in 43.3 seconds, or 8.3 ppm. This was slightly faster than the HP M148fdw's 8 ppm. The Brother was faster, clocking in at 11 ppm.
The B215 took 17 seconds to print a letter-size photo on plain paper at 600 dpi. That was roughly average, and the Brother MFC-L2750DW XL turned in a very similar time of 17.2 seconds.
Xerox B215 copy and scan speed
The Xerox made a gray-scale copy in 10.1 seconds, on average, which is roughly the average for similar models we've tested. The Brother MFC-L2750DW XL was a little faster, at 8.4 seconds. Using its ADF to make a single-sided copy of a five-page text document, the Xerox completed the job in 22 seconds, or 13.6 ppm. The Brother made the same copy in 19.3 seconds, or 15.5 ppm. The Xerox made a double-sided copy of a 10-page, single-sided document in 57 seconds, or 10.5 ppm. That's the same time the Brother took to copy five double-sided sheets, a job the Xerox can't perform, because it lacks two-sided scanning.
The B215 was slower than the average at scanning in color at 600 dpi to JPEG format. Xerox's machine made a scan in 44.4 seconds, versus the monochrome laser printer average of 35.4 seconds. The Brother MFC-L2750DW XL created the JPEG in 38.4 seconds.
The B215 scanned quickly in black and white at 300 dpi. With the quick-scan function, this printer created a PDF in 8.4 seconds, the same time as the Brother. This bested the average of 10.6 seconds. With the advanced-scan feature, this job went slower, performing separate prescan and saving operations and taking roughly 24 seconds. After scanning and saving, the software asks if you want to transfer the file to another location, which grew tedious. I was unable to figure out how to turn off this feature via the touch-screen menus or in the browser-based CentreWare tool.
Xerox B215 print quality
The B215 made attractive prints of our text documents, producing dark letter forms with crisp edges. Graphics printed with plenty of fine detail, smooth midtones and sufficiently dark shadow areas. Some very minor banding was visible.
Gray-scale copies of color graphics looked a little grainy, with minor banding. Midtones looked a little darker than in the original, but dark shades copied accurately. Text copied well and looked sharp around the edges. Copies made via ADF, however, sometimes came out slanted, which was disappointing.
Scans of color photographs had plenty of detail, and colors looked natural and well saturated. Shadow areas retained subtle details. Graphics scanned in gray scale were of the same high quality, with smooth midtone transitions and sharp fine details. Scans made to PDF format also looked attractive, and text looked sharp.
Xerox B215 toner cost and yield
If low cost per page is your top priority, the B215 will not disappoint. The $49 standard-yield toner cartridge is rated to print 1,500 pages, which comes out to 3.3 cents per page. The high-yield cartridge is rated at 3,000 pages, and at $71, has a cost per page of 2.4 cents. Xerox offers a two-pack of the high-yield cartridges, but it's the same price as two individually purchased cartridges. The $55 drum cartridge (10,000-page rating) adds a modest 0.5 cents per page.
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In comparison, the Brother MFC-L2750DW XL offers costs per page of 3.7 cents and 2.7 cents, for standard and high-yield cartridges, respectively. The Xerox's $105 toner drum (rated to last 12,000 pages) adds 0.9 cents to the printer's cost per page.
Xerox B215 setup and software
Setting up the B215 was easy. After I removed some packing material and set the time zone, time and fax tone, the printer was ready to reboot and start operation.
To install software from the DVD-ROM disc, I needed to launch the software from Windows Explorer (as shown in a video tutorial) because the installer does not launch automatically. Wi-Fi setup was simple, using the setup wizard on a USB-connected PC.
The included scanning software is easy to use. It automatically crops photographs when you use the image-scanning function, and a quick-scan option offers customizable settings. However, the software does not automatically crop when you use the document-scanning feature, converting to PDF format even when you perform a prescan. You will need to select the document size, which may be difficult to determine for a magazine, for example.
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Because of this method, I got a message saying there was a paper-size mismatch when I tried to print my odd-size PDFs to the letter-size paper in the input tray. One other anomaly: When scanning an image, the software incorrectly detected a section of white scanner lid as a document and created a blank document from it.
By default, the B215 asks you if you want to change the setting for paper size every time you open the paper tray. You can, however, disable this question in the printer-manager application.
Via an Android device, you can print PDF, JPG and TIF files but not doc and docx files. Printing from my Android device did not require that I download a Xerox app; the B215 simply showed up as an available printer. I did download the Xerox Print Service app for Android, but this did not add any functions (the app did not run as a stand-alone printing app but simply as a plug-in in the background). The Xerox app did not offer scanning or copying functions from my Android phone.
The B215 starts up in 22.6 seconds, which is about average. However, if you use the power-saver mode, which dims the touch screen, the B215 wakes up quickly, able to make a copy in just 11.5 seconds.
The monochrome, laser Xerox B215 includes a good set of features, offers fast speeds across the board and delivers high image quality. This Xerox proved quick in most tests; scanning in color at high resolution was the only exception. Most impressive, perhaps, is the low cost per page of 2.4 cents with a high-yield toner cartridge.
The B215 is well suited to moderate office work, in part, because its ADF is fast. However, this printer occasionally produced tilted copies, which was disappointing, and the printer won't prevent a paper jam if a document is left on the scanner bed. The scanning software does not automatically crop documents, only images, so you will have to crop manually. The tilting, 3.5-inch, color touch screen is a nice touch, but operation is not quite on a par with a smartphone's display, and you cannot create custom shortcuts for regularly performed tasks. Still, on the whole, the B215 offers small offices a solid workhorse for the money.
Compared to our top pick, the Editor's Choice Brother MFC-L2750DW ($400), the B215 offers impressive performance, which is only slightly slower overall. Although a few of this Xerox's features were a little lacking, the significantly lower price of $250 makes it an enticing bargain.