The K8600 makes a striking first impression – it can handle a paper size of A3+, and its proportions have gone up accordingly. That means it’s a whopper of a printer – even with paper trays closed it stretches 420mm deep. Unfold the plastic paper catcher to accommodate A3+ sheets and it will overwhelm all but the deepest of desks.
The K8600’s key specifications mark it out for busy office use. Its cavernous paper tray can hold up to 250 sheets, and HP claims an impressive top speed of 35ppm in draft mode. Add the ability to print giant, photo-quality prints, and the K8600 looks like a gift for any office that needs large-format colour proofing. HP claims a monthly duty cycle of up to 6250 pages.
So what of that maximum print speed of 35ppm? With the K8600 set to deliver draft-quality prints using the minimum drying time set in the driver, we saw a top-speed of just over 18ppm. That’s impressive for an inkjet, to be sure, but half HP’s maximum claim. In normal print mode the K8600 produced our 50-page monochrome document in 3min 59sec, which translates to 13ppm. A more complicated 50-page colour PDF strained the K8600’s four-colour, 4800 x 1200dpi engine, to complete in a rather finger-tapping 7min 8sec, or 7ppm.
We couldn’t fault the quality of the prints. Black text nearly matched laser-quality – all of our pages were readable. Colour charts also printed well. The CMYK printing engine has its limitations compared to home inkjets, which offer a wider colour gamut, and some of our business charts were a little grainy. For colour proofing, though, we were happy.
With the limitations of the K8600 apparent, our photo-printing tests were predictably underwhelming. Close inspection revealed graininess, and we were particularly disappointed with our monochrome test. Speed was good: the K8600 printed five top-quality 6 x 4in prints in 8min 55sec and an A4 photo in 3min 13sec.
The K8600 makes some compromises. It’s not the best quality printer we’ve seen, nor the fastest. But it’s fast enough, and good-quality enough, for what HP calls ‘in-house marketing’, and there’s plenty of flexibility in return for the $500 price tag. Just don’t expect perfect A3+ photos at this price.
This Review appeared in the November, 2008 issue of PC & Tech Authority Magazine
Source: Copyright © PC Pro, Dennis Publishing