A color laser printer can be the perfect solution for small workgroups and home offices that print a high volume of color documents. The OKI C3600n ($399) color laser printer is network ready and prints at an impressive speed compared with its competition, but it’s larger than most printers and lacks fancy extras such as a full-color LCD screen or a wireless print server. If you weigh performance benchmarks scores and output quality over features, size, and cost, this color laser printer is sufficient for most business uses.
Design and features
We’re not very impressed with the OKI C3600n’s design, but we’ve never been too wowed by laser printers in general. It seems that at the business level, manufacturers spend more time on efficiency rather than aesthetic innovation, and this printer certainly adheres to that model. The matte white C3600n measures 11.4 inches tall by 14.7 inches wide by 18.8 inches deep and weighs approximately 46 pounds, according to OKI. We wouldn’t call it a behemoth, but it’s larger than the Samsung CLP-315W that is only 9.6 inches tall by 15.3 inches wide by 12.3 inches deep. The OKI also weighs more than 20 pounds more than the Samsung, so people with limited desk space will probably be happier with a more compact machine.
You’ll find all the ports you need to connect the printer to your computer (including the power plug) on the back of the chassis, including a USB and an Ethernet port for networking across multiple systems. One useful feature absent on the OKI C3600n is a front-mount USB port for connecting PictBridge-compatible cameras or direct printing from a USB flash storage drive–you can find such a port on the aforementioned Brother HL-4040CN.
Since it’s only a single function laser printer, there aren’t many extra features to discuss, but we commend OKI for including a 400MHz processor and a hefty 128MB of memory that lets it handle bigger print jobs than the competition. You can even upgrade to a maximum 640MB of memory. Comparatively, the Dell 1320c, released two years ago, shipped with a 333MHz processor and just 64MB of nonexpandable memory.
The C3600n’s CMYK toner cartridges are individually separated and sit directly underneath the top cover, lined up in a horizontal row. The printer ships with “standard” capacity cartridges–according to OKI, the black cartridge lasts for 1,500 pages and each of the three-color cartridges will last for 1,000 prints. Using the prices on OKI’s Web site, the cost to replace them is $51 and $60, respectively, but OKI also offers high capacity toner that can print 2,500 black pages for $73 and 2,000 color pages for $105. Using the high capacity toner for best value, you can expect to spend about 2.9 cents for a black-only page and 5.3 cents per color page, a fair price by today’s printing costs.. Finally, the recommended monthly duty cycle for this printer is 35,000 pages, which is more than adequate for small businesses and workgroups.
The OKI C3600n fared well in a direct output speed comparison with three other color laser printers. It placed second best in all of our tests just behind the Brother HL-4040CN, a similarly priced single-function laser. As a matter of fact, it printed black text at almost the exact same speed, scoring 15.61 pages per minute compared with the Brother’s 15.66. It couldn’t keep up with the Samsung CLP-310W in the color presentation test, but it’s safe to say that you won’t be waiting too long for any document using this printer.
The OKI also performs well in all of our print quality tests. Black text looks as good as we expect from a laser printer, with bold line formation and smooth gradation along font size scales. It also handled our graphics text admirably, showing excellent signs of color separation and sharp image distinction, even in some of the subtle blending detail. As expected, some of the images look a little smudgy and pixelated, but the general print quality across presentations, graphics, and simple text strengthen our overall impression of this printer.