Epson AcuLaser C2600N review

Price when reviewed

While the Kyocera Mita FS-5020N is perfect for large workgroups generating high volumes of colour graphics, the C2600N is aimed at offices looking for a network-capable, fast mono printer that will occasionally be required for colour work. To that end, Epson has made the C2600N capable of printing even without colour cartridges installed. The theory is you could buy a mono laser now (the plain 2600N, costing £401 from and upgrade to colour later, while a business that needs a mix of mono and colour printers only need worry about ordering one range of toners.

Epson AcuLaser C2600N review

Epson also addresses the worries of IT directors concerned with the costs of colour printing. It does this via the bundled EpsonNet SetupManager, which allows administrators to generate install programs for distribution to single users. These point to the printer’s IP address, and can be set to allow only mono printing, lock to toner-saving mode and, if you’ve installed the £159 duplex option, you can force double-sided printing to save paper. The 10/100 Ethernet port gives administrators remote access to the printer through its internal HTTP server. It’s also possible to check toner levels and change settings, while Epson Status Manager 3 will alert users when the printer has a problem.

Print quality from the C2600N was excellent. Our colour Excel test revealed no ghosting and some good dithering – black text on a grey background was perfectly legible even at small font sizes. The majority of our test photographic images also printed well with rich, if slightly warm, skin tones, and we’d be happy to use the results in presentations. The C2600N elected to print our monochrome photo test using a single, black-only pass, though, with the end result lacking impact.

The C2600N comes with 64MB of RAM, which is plenty for medium-sized workgroups, but the main cause of printer queues will be its four-pass engine. A 12-page Excel document took one minute, 56 seconds to print – just over 7ppm. A 50-page document with a colour letterhead on each page took six minutes, 52 seconds, equating to just shy of 8ppm. Single-pass (black-only) documents were very quick though. A 50-page plain text document was finished in just two minutes, one second, just a shade under Epson’s claim of 30ppm.

The C2600N handles up to 650 sheets using its multipurpose tray and 500-sheet paper cassette, and you can upgrade it to manage up to 1,150 sheets using an extra 500-sheet cassette. It can also be used as a printer for a multi-OS environment, thanks to PostScript 3 compatibility.

In colour mode, the four-pass engine shortens the lifespan of the photo drum to 10,000 pages, and elevates cost per page to 7p. Mono-only pages are far cheaper at 1.14p per page, but bear in mind that the FS-5020N costs 4p for a colour page and 0.89p for mono.

The £458 price is expensive for a four-pass laser, but its mono and colour speeds put it in a different class to less expensive units such as the Samsung CLP-550, which is about £100 cheaper. It’s also much cheaper than the more workhorse-like FS-5020N, and, while more expensive to run, is a good choice for medium-sized workgroups.

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