We looked at HP’s OfficeJet Pro print mechanism in its K5400n printer a few weeks back. That A4 machine is very competitively priced at well under £100. The K8600 is its wide carriage, A3+ sibling and the price doesn't look quite so attractive at a smidge under £250.
The printer's black and silver styling, with highlights in high-gloss transparent black, wouldn't look out of place in a graphic design studio. Handily, if you're only using the printer's larger format paper handling on occasions, the input and output trays can be telescoped back, so they protrude only a short way from its front.
However, the design of the two trays is a little odd and disparate, as the output tray no longer sits like a lid on top of the input one, but is angled up away from it and the telescopic sections of the two trays are different shapes and sizes. This makes the assemblies look rather messy, for no reason that's readily apparent.
There are indicators at the right end of its front panel for paper jam, cover open and paper out, as well as buttons to cancel a job and feed a sheet through. At the left-hand end of the machine is a pull-down cover for the four separate ink cartridges.
At the rear, there's a single USB 2.0 socket and one for a low voltage input. It's fairly amazing that in a printer this size HP can't fit the power supply inside the case, but instead relies on a fairly substantial ‘black block’ to kick around under the desk. Although you can get JetDirect Ethernet and Wi-Fi external adapters for the printer, there are no options to upgrade with a duplexer or extra paper trays, as there are with the K5400n. There is the OfficeJet Pro K8600dn, which includes duplex and Ethernet as standard, but you have to put up £325 for that.
The initial, physical setup is a two-stage process, as you have to slot in the two-colour heads - one for cyan and magenta and the other for yellow and black - before plugging in the four, separate ink cartridges. The printer then takes around quarter of an hour to charge its ink system and to automatically align its heads.
The software is pretty basic stuff, with HP's Solution Centre and a reasonable driver, which includes presets for common tasks, such as plain paper printing, photos and duplex, though only manual duplex on this model.