If you need to laser print in colour on paper bigger than A4, you're looking at big money, but not necessarily a big printer. OKI's new C8600n A3 printer is no miniature and weighs in at 40kg, so is definitely a two-person lift, but it’s considerably smaller than most of its major competitors.
Its size is partly due to OKI’s print technology, which is based on high-definition LED strip illumination, rather than a laser beam. The machine uses an in-line colour engine, which doesn't require the focusing and deflection mechanisms needed by laser printers. It also means that colour prints come through virtually as quick as black ones.
The C8600n has a conventional design, except that everything’s super-sized. The 300 sheet paper tray at its base takes sheets up to A3, but can also be loaded with A4 in landscape orientation. A second tray of the same capacity is available as an option, as is a duplex unit for double-sided printing. Above the main paper tray is a multipurpose tray, which can take another 100 sheets of plain paper or be used for special media, and at the top of the front panel is a neat, uncomplicated control panel.
It sports a backlit, two-line by 16-character display and simple controls to navigate the menu. Paper feeds out to the top surface of the printer in a conventional manner and at the back are USB and Ethernet sockets; both connections are standard on the machine.
Installation is quite involved and isn't helped by a setup guide which doesn't offer enough detail and is printed much too small. You have to take out each of the electro-photographic (EP) cartridges and remove a protective film from their undersides as well as large orange blanking plates from their tops, before replacing them and clipping a toner cartridge into each and locking them in place.
Unusually, the driver CD doesn't include a setup utility, but relies on Windows to recognise the new hardware and to search for the necessary drivers on the supplied CD. The driver is a sophisticated affair, and includes functions to print banners, posters, multiple pages per sheet and watermarks.
It's also supposed to come with a utility suite offering useful templates for labels, business cards and CD/DVDs, a network monitor facility and print control for administrators to track printer usage. We couldn't find any of these on the supplied CD, but imagine this was an oversight on the review system.