Like most other expensive monochrome laser printers, the Xerox Phaser 3600N is built to churn out text pages fast.

But the hefty Xerox Phaser 3600N has considerably more to offer than many others, starting with its thoughtful design and wealth of expansion options - which give it an edge.

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

Paper handling is the Xerox Phaser 3600N's forte. On many printers, the multipurpose tray seems like an afterthought, but the Xerox Phaser 3600N'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 1,100 sheets by adding a second 500-sheet tray.

Although the Xerox Phaser 3600N lacks an automatic duplexer, the company's Phaser 3600DN (which is otherwise the same) includes it. The output tray holds 250 sheets. Our 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 Xerox Phaser 3600N. 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 colour-coded to match the printer. When we induced a paper jam, the status bar came up, identified the specific jam, and gave us the option to bring up the troubleshooting guide, which automatically opened to the correct video.

The Xerox Phaser 3600N's consumables are reasonably priced. The printer ships with a standard-size, 7000-page cartridge.

OUR VERDICT

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