Oki C8600 A3 colour laser printer

October 1st, 2007 Desktop, Gadgets & Hardware, Tech

What sort of printer does a design studio need? We might all chorus unhesitatingly ‘the best’, but plenty of studios get by with a generic multifunction printer or nothing at all.

If you work on a high-level art of fashion magazine where retouching colours is mission critical you need a good printer, no question. But if you have a swatch of a few house colours or your client specifies PMS colours to use, it’s almost unholy to admit it but you can operate a design studio without top of the line printing equipment in house.

So it was with a little trepidation the Oki C8600 landed on our desk. Or rather at the front door, since it could barely fit inside. Despite measuring 341 x 485 x 593mm and weighing some 40 kilograms, it’s one of the most compact A3 colour laser printers around.

We heaved and hoed to get it up onto a bench and ran the installer. No matter how easy printer manufacturers claim their set-up is, it’s always fiddly, and after correcting a setting that was spooling over Ethernet instead of USB, the Oki was away.

At $2,790 (up to $3,790 with duplex feeder and second tray) it’s not cheap. And with new colours at $50 for black and $88 for colours for the 2,000 page option, only high margins will justify the cost if you have a traditionally heavy printer workload.

Figures published by Oki claim the C8600 prints 26 pages per minute (ppm) in colour and 32 mono in A4. In A3, they claim 15ppm in colour and 17ppm in mono. As always, printer manufacturers err on the side of perfect-world optimism, and an independent test by another publication yielded half that.

Unfortunately, Desktop couldn’t bring you an authoritative report as the C8600 had the irritating and seemingly unfixable habit of demanding that we were using the wrong paper. With either A3 or A4 in the bottom tray — aligned and arrayed correctly — and the right paper size selected in our applications, the 2-line LCD screen gave us an error message when each new job spooled. Hitting the ‘On Line’ button to continue cut the speed down considerably and we barely clocked three pages per minute in any size or colour.

Assuming it’s an easy fix to get around (or if speed isn’t a concern), the colour quality is the next concern. Unfortunately the few test photos we printed — even ones at a relatively high resolution from a digital camera — came out bitty and pixellated.

The Oki C8600 definitely has its uses as a quick, in house proofing machine, but Desktop’s experience was to not rely on it for high colour quality or ease of use without investigating further, possibly by asking for a few tests from your reseller.

RRP $2,950

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  • 3D Artist
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