Sometimes all you want from a printer is for it to reliably churn out page after page and not cost you a fortune in ink while doing so.
If this is the type of model you're after, then the Xerox Phaser 3600VN looks like a pretty good option. Priced from £310 online, it promises to quickly rattle off pages, while delivering very low running costs. So does it make good on its promises?
In a world full of boring black business laser printers, the white and dark blue colour scheme that Xerox has used on the 3600VN is a refreshing change. Other than this, the design is quite traditional, as it's essentially a tall square box with a paper-in tray at the bottom and a paper-out tray at the top.
The right-hand side of this model houses a simple two-line monochrome display, along with just six buttons to navigate the menus and cancel or start print jobs. The screen is very small, but the menus are quite flat, so they're easy to find your way around. Anyway, you mostly control the printer using its software panel on your computer.
The cassette-style paper-in tray at the bottom can handle up to 500 sheets at a time, while pulling open a flap just above this reveals a 100-sheet multi-purpose tray, which is handy for printing envelopes and other odd-sized items.
The paper-out tray is formed from a cutaway at the top of the machine and can cope with up to 250 sheets at a time. There's also an additional 500-sheet feeder available as an add-on, so this model can grow with your needs.
Set-up is pretty straightforward. Before you can power-up this model, you need to remove the toner cartridge from its bag, give it a little shake to evenly distribute the toner within the cartridge and then slide it into a slot found behind a flip-up panel at the top of the printer.
Once that's done you can turn the printer on and load the software onto your computer. The installation wizard includes handy animations showing you exactly what steps you need to take to get this model up and running. You should be able to complete the set-up in just a few minutes.
You can choose between hooking it into your network via the wired Ethernet port or connecting it directly to your computer using a USB cable.
Speed, quality and cost
If it's raw speed you're after then the 3600VN has it in spades. It's one of the fastest monochrome laser printers that we've had in for review. It managed to rocket off our 10-page black and white text document in just 26 seconds, which is massively quick. It was similarly speedy when it came to graphics output. Our 10-page graphics test was produced in a mere 23 seconds, while it completed our 10-page business presentation in just 25 seconds.
This is a cheap model to run. Using the high-capacity toner cartridge, it works out at just 1.7p per page, including 0.7p for paper. That significantly undercuts the competition and means that this will be fairly easy on the pocket over the longer term.
When it comes to print quality, we've got little to complain about. Text is very clean on the page, but also dark and inky. Even very small font sizes come out looking crisp and sharp.
Graphics quality is also impressive. The pictures on our graphics test page were handled well, with plenty of detail retained, even in the darker areas of the image. There was some slight banding on large blocks of grey on our business presentation, but overall the quality of graphics output was above average.
The low running costs of the Phaser 3600VN mean you won't be shelling out huge amounts on ink over the lifetime of the product. All in all, this is a good option for those who need a machine that can pump out good quality monochrome pages at a rapid pace.