The $700 price tag on HP's Color LaserJet 3600n seems steep for an individual buyer but modest for a small workgroup seeking a network color laser. Unfortunately, its text quality leaves something to be desired and its expandability options are limited. Lexmark's similar C522 sells for $200 less and provides better text quality, though Lexmark's cost per page is slightly higher than HP's and the difference may add up over time.
The 60-pound 3600n is small and has deep handholds, so one person can carry it easily. The printer's front wall folds out to expose the paper path, four integrated toner cartridge/imaging drum units in a vertical rack, and the image-transfer belt clipped inside the front wall itself. The design couldn't make jam-clearing and maintenance any easier. However, the wall and hinges could be sturdier. The main paper tray also feels wobbly and has no stop when you pull it out, so users should be careful not to drop it. The paper-width and paper-length guides are easy to adjust. In addition to the enclosed 250-sheet tray, the printer has a 100-sheet auxiliary feed; you can add a 500-sheet feeder for $250.
A two-line backlit LCD on the 3600n's top panel displays a complete set of menus, which we found easy to navigate with buttons for drilling down through menus, selecting items, and backing out. The 3600n comes with 64MB of memory and unfortunately, you can't expand that, nor can you add a duplexer, which makes expansion options very limited. If you need those extras, consider HP's 3600dn, an $849 model with a duplexer and twice the memory.
The 3600n prints black text at a reasonable 13 pages per minute (ppm) and color graphics a bit faster, at 13.5ppm; for comparison's sake, the Lexmark C522n prints text at 14.2ppm and graphics at 12.3ppm. But if saving money is your real priority--and you don't print much color--consider Ricoh's inkjetlike G700, which prints fine text at 12.1ppm but drops the ball on graphics speed and quality.