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I usually write my computing peripheral reviews in a "non-teccie" way. I hope this isn't too patronising for experienced computer users, and not too full of jargon for novices. I'm somewhere in between!
It's a fine, fine laser printer from those nice people at Epson. As far as I'm aware, there are three main types of printer: dot matrix (I had one at home in 1986), bubble/ink jet (most common in bundled deals for home PCs at PC World) and laserjets - the most powerful and accurate and smudgefree printers around. This is the latter.
WHAT DOES IT DO?
It connects to your PC and allows you print stuff . Hence the name.
WHAT DOES IT LOOK LIKE?
It's not going to win any beauty awards (more like a printer equivalent of a knobbly knees competition, actually), but who buys a printer for its looks? No one with sense. It's your bog-standard light grey, square lump of technology that does exactly what it says on the tin: ie print.
AND HOW DID I COME ACROSS THIS?
At work. We had some serious network probs back in May 2004 and decided a huge clear out was essential. This went from the huge server right down to keyboard and mice, printers included. We use this as network printer and to date has been extremely reliable, considering it's being used in an accounts department and sees a high volume of statements, letter and invoices running through it.
SO WHAT DOES THE MANUFACTURER SAY?
"The Epson AcuLaser C8600 is the perfect professional printing solution for users who require exceptional quality colour and mono output on a range of media formats from C5 up to A3W in size. The heart of the AcuLaser C8600 is its powerful printer controller. A high performance 400 MHz processor and a uniquely designed Epson AcuLaser Color ASIC combine to ensure maximum throughput by the rapid processing of even the most complex and demanding color print jobs. The new Epson AcuLaser C8600 is able to achieve superb print quality by utilizing a combination of Epson's exclusive AcuLaser Color Laser Technologies. A wide range of media formats is supported, including plain paper, glossy media and card up to 250 gsm thick, while input capacity is expandable up to 1, 400 sheets via two optional 500 sheet cassettes, and double sided printing is available via an optional duplex unit. The AcuLaser C8600PS version fully supports Adobe PostScript 3, making it the ideal solution for graphic arts users requiring the best results on paper up to A3W with crop marks".
I'd generally agree with that. From opening to the box and installing it, our IT guy commented that this seemed like a good solid network printer. Powerful and reliable, he said, and so it has proved to be 8 months on.
WHAT CAN IT HANDLE?
It's a colour printer and therefore the paper output differs widely between colour and black 'n' white printing jobs. The official spec is 8ppm (pages per minute) for colours and 35 for b&w. Overall this is accurate, but the black and white output can reach over 40 when the printer gets into a rhythm of, say, printing a large batch of invoices. (We know, we've timed and counted it. Life! Where are you?).
It's compatible with both Mac and PC and the connectivity status is wire only, although our IT man swears a wireless version is either on the market or due soon.
For boffins: the maximum resolution when printing in b&w is 600 dpi x 600 dpi and the very same for colour. Don't know what this means, hope it's good.
Some printers I've used in the paast couldn't handle certain types of print jobs, but this machine can handle envelopes, transparencies, labels, plain paper, glossy paper. It can also handle cards and recycled paper, although I can't confirm this.
HOW LONG DOES A CARTRIDGE LAST THEN?
The spec says that each cartridge (they consist of black, magenta and yellow), should last for around 5,500 to 6,000 pages worth of printing. However, having had this for 8 months, I am certain I've raised that many invoices alone and we still hasven't had to change the cartridges. So, durability is good.
CAN I USE IT WITH MY CRAPPY OLD WINDOWS 3.1?
No. But, if you're still living in 1993, then you won't need this printer will you? Those of us in the 21st Century will be delighted to note that the following systems are compatible with the printer:
Apple MacOS 8.1
Microsoft Windows 95/98
Microsoft Windows 2000 / NT4.0
Microsoft Windows Millennium Edition
Microsoft Windows XP
Expect to pay around £220 for this printer.
We've found this to be very useful printer, sturdy, reliable and actually delivers more than it's specification. Which is rare.