Color LaserJet 3600n

Color LaserJet 3600n

It might be time to ditch your business inkjet.

 

Hewlett-Packard's Color LaserJet 3600n has a lot going for it: fast print speeds, excellent business-graphics quality, and an attractive price. If you've been using an inkjet printer for your business printing, it's time to ditch that money pit and go with a color laser.

 

There are two versions of the 3600. We looked at the $699 3600n, which comes with one USB 2.0 port, one Fast Ethernet (100BASE-T) port, 64MB of memory (upgradeable to 128MB), a 250-sheet adjustable media-input tray, and a 100-sheet tray that folds out from the front for feeding envelopes, labels, and other special papers. (The printer can handle sizes ranging from 3-by-5-inch cards to 8.5-by-14-inch legal paper.) The 3600dn adds automatic duplexing (printing on both sides of a page) and costs $999.

 

The 3600n uses four separate toner cartridges - cyan, magenta, yellow, and black - and while they ship inside the printer, you have to install them yourself by opening the 3600n, pulling out each toner cartridge, giving them a little shake to loosen up the settled toner, and removing each one's protective seal. During the process, you'll notice one somewhat alarming detail about the 3600n: When you open the printer, the delicate transfer unit (used to attach the toner to media) is exposed in all its glory. It's a sight we're not used to seeing in a laser printer - the printer itself says (via its LCD panel) that the transfer unit "can be easily damaged," and a bright yellow warning label on the transfer unit tells you not to touch it. So be careful when you have to clear a paper jam or replace the toner cartridges - which, incidentally, cost $132.99 for black, and $129.99 each for cyan, magenta, and yellow. (Black cartridges are rated for 6,000 pages; colors are rated for 4,000 pages each.)

 

The 3600n prints on plain paper, but HP has different types of media available through its Web site. For about $50, you can get 50 sheets of 8-by-11-inch transparencies. HP's Color Laser Matte Brochure Paper costs $19.99 for 150 sheets.

 

HP rates the 3600n at 17 pages per minute (ppm) for both monochrome and color printing. At the best image quality, our 50-page Microsoft Word document printed at just under 17 ppm (see "Click to Clunk," below, for an explanation of how we gauge a printer's speed). Printing our 15-page, full-color Microsoft PowerPoint presentation, the 3600n averaged 14.77 ppm; our two-page Microsoft Excel spreadsheet took a quick 20 seconds. Overall, the 3600n is an excellent and quick performer.

 

Text quality is as crisp and clean as you'd expect from a laser printer. The color accuracy on Excel graphs and PowerPoint charts is excellent, but there was some very minor banding in color gradients. Though the 3600n isn't marketed as a photo-quality printer, printed an 8-by-10-inch photo on plain paper just to see what we'd get. Image detail was quite good, but the photo had a slight magenta cast to it, giving the people in our picture a too-rosy hue.

 

The bottom line. For small businesses and home offices that print over 200 pages per week, a color laser printer such as the 3600n is a cheaper and faster way to print than an inkjet printer or a service bureau.

 

COMPANY: Hewlett-Packard
CONTACT: 800-752-0900, www.hp.com
PRICE: $699
Fast. Excellent text output. Great-looking business graphics.
Magenta shift on color photos. Be cautious of exposed transfer unit.

 

 

BONUS TIP: Click to Clunk
Ever wonder why a printer never seems as fast as the manufacturer says it is? Printer companies rate speed based only on the time it takes to physically print a page - they don't include the processing required to translate the document into printable data. We measure printer speeds from the moment we press Print (click) to the moment when the page pops into the output tray (clunk).

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