The HP Officejet Pro K8600dn colour inkjet printer's wide-format capability means that you can print larger documents from your desktop. The product also supports the business world's 'faster, cheaper' mantra, offering impressive speed and economical inks.

In our tests on letter-size paper, the HP Officejet Pro K8600dn produced text pages at a snappy rate of 13.8 pages per minute (ppm). It managed from 2.6ppm to 4.1ppm printing various colour images. We didn't test its speed in printing wide-format media, but it would probably be slower, because it would have to print more.

The HP Officejet Pro K8600dn's print quality was competitive with that of other models we've recently tested. On plain paper it produced crisp, dark text that compares well to the laser standard. Graphics and photos seemed a bit grainy, but still natural. Even closely spaced lines on one of our toughest samples appeared surprisingly good. On HP's own photo paper, images tended to look a little dark, losing some detail along the way.

The HP Officejet Pro K8600dn's ink system consists of tanks that load into bays behind a front-panel door. Two printheads - one for black and yellow, the other for cyan and magenta - lurk beneath the printer's top panel. Long, transparent tubes snake between the printheads and the tanks.

The paper-handling can be a bit daunting. The HP Officejet Pro K8600dn has a roomy 250-sheet input tray whose lid functions as the 150-sheet output tray. Loading paper is difficult; you can raise the tray a small amount initially, but lifting it higher requires some force and produces disconcertingly loud friction noises. Adjusting the tray to accommodate the many possible media sizes can also be complicated.

Installing the automatic duplexer is pretty easy, but the piece replaces the straight-through paper-path component. If you want to use thicker media from time to time, you'll have to keep track of the straight-through feeder and reinstall it as needed. A version of the HP Officejet Pro K8600dn without the duplexer costs significantly less.

OUR VERDICT

For many offices, the HP Officejet Pro K8600dn would be overkill. Groups who need to stretch their printing capabilities will find this machine a capable device. Its quality isn't quite good enough to replace the high-end colour lasers that larger graphics departments need; but even in that kind of environment, it might be useful for producing drafts or giving a single user their own local printer.