capsule review

Xerox Phaser 3600/N Monochrome Laser Printer

At a Glance
  • Xerox Phaser 3600/N

    PCWorld Rating

    You get a lot of good stuff for the price; shell out an extra $100 for the duplex-equipped model.

Like most other expensive monochrome laser printers, the Xerox Phaser 3600/N is built to churn out text pages fast. But this hefty unit has considerably more to offer than many others, starting with its thoughtful design and wealth of expansion options--which give it an edge over the like-priced ($649 as of May 25, 2009) Ricoh Aficio SP 4210N, despite the latter's far cheaper toner.

The Phaser 3600/N buzzed through our text-based speed tests at a rate of 35.5 pages per minute (ppm)--a bit short of the 40 ppm rate that Xerox promises, but still quite fast. Graphics output dropped to an underwhelming print speed of 6.4 ppm (much slower than that of the Ricoh Aficio SP 4210N) and consistently looked dark.

Paper handling is the Phaser 3600/N's forte. On many printers, the multipurpose tray seems like an afterthought, but the Phaser 3600/N's 100-sheet MPT is both sturdy and easy to operate. A 500-sheet input tray is standard; and you can up your capacity to 1100 sheets by adding a second 500-sheet tray for $149. Though the 3600/N lacks an automatic duplexer, the company's Phaser 3600/DN (which is otherwise the same) includes it for just $100 more. The output tray holds 250 sheets. My biggest design objection: On the control panel, the navigational cues on the two-line, 16-character monochrome LCD go from left to right, while the navigational arrow buttons themselves go only up and down.

Xerox provides an impressive level of support for the Phaser 3600/N. The setup wizard installs a troubleshooting guide along with the driver, utilities, and user's guide. The HTML-based guide contains an extensive section (with flash animations) on clearing paper jams. The printer images are accurate, with panels and paper guides color-coded to match the printer. When I induced a paper jam, the status bar came up, identified the specific jam, and gave me the option to bring up the troubleshooting guide, which automatically opened to the correct video.

The Phaser 3600/N's consumables are reasonably priced. The printer ships with a standard-size, 7000-page cartridge. A replacement cartridge of the same size costs $147 (2.1 cents a page), an average amount. A 14,000-page, high-yield replacement costs $231, or 1.6 cents a page--a far better deal. In this respect the Phaser 3600/N beats the HP LaserJet P2055x, which is much more expensive to operate after costing less initially.

The Phaser 3600/N is well designed and uses reasonably priced toner. It's expensive to buy, but the machine's quality helps justify the price.

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At a Glance
  • PCWorld Rating

    You get a lot of good stuff for the price; shell out an extra $100 for the duplex-equipped model.

    Pros

    • Great design; helpful troubleshooting
    • Generous paper capacity; cheap toner

    Cons

    • Expensive
    • Sluggish printing graphics
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