Designed to compete with colour laser multifunctions on running costs and speed, the HP Officejet Pro 8500 Wireless inkjet multifunction offers good quality printing, a comprehensive feature set and versatile connectivity. It is a great choice if you want low running costs without compromising on quality or features.
Resembling an Officejet Pro 8000 with an automatic document feeder attached, the HP Officejet 8500 Wireless has more features than you can poke a stick at. It has USB, Ethernet and Wi-Fi connectivity, as well an automatic duplex unit and touch-sensitive control panel. The integrated media card readers support SD, CompactFlash, xD, MMC, MemoryStick and MemoryStick Duo, and there is a PictBridge USB port as well.
Whereas Epson's Stylus Photo TX800FW relies on a single touch-sensitive panel to control all functions, HP has both a touch screen and buttons. Copy and fax functions can be initiated from the touch screen or buttons, as can the scan to email and scan to network folder functions; local scans and photo editing can only be done through the touch screen.
The multifunction uses a capillary tube system which separates the ink cartridges from the printhead. As a result, HP can use larger cartridges without making the printhead heavier; high yield cartridges are quoted at 1400 pages for each colour cartridge and 2200 pages for black ink. A consumables cost of 14.2c per A4 page makes the Officejet Pro 8500 Wireless cheaper to run than the Fuji Xerox DocuPrint C1190FS, though more expensive lasers often only cost 3-4c per page.
In order to stop ink from drying and clogging the capillary tubes, the multifunction regularly initiates a self-cleaning process. Unfortunately, this frequently happens between print jobs, rendering the printer unusable for one to two minutes. Scanning and faxing can't be conducted during this process, either.
The multifunction's Web interface offers detailed status information as well as in-depth fax, e-mail and, if the optional Bluetooth USB dongle is purchased, Bluetooth settings. The network folder scan preset is particularly welcome. It uses an existing shared folder on a networked computer or network-attached storage device.
It takes an average of 19sec for the HP Officejet Pro 8500 Wireless to print the first page of a document. It prints black and white documents at 22.7 pages per minute using draft quality and 14.6ppm using normal quality. Draft colour documents print at 22.9ppm, but the printer slows to 8.9ppm when using normal quality. The draft speeds are on par with mid-range laser multifunctions like the Brother MFC-9840CDW, but most lasers have consistent speeds between quality settings and the output of the Officejet Pro 8500 Wireless isn't as good.
Documents understandably have an "inky" look to them, resulting in feathered text and making 7pt text less readable than documents produced by laser printers. However, the HP Officejet Pro 8500 produces vibrant colours (although blues are slightly faded).
The quality of photos is good, but the 1200x1200dpi hardware print resolution causes a slight grain. There are no other problems with the photos, however, making the Officejet Pro 8500 Wireless suitable for printing the occasional snapshot.
Scans, which took an average of 1min 45sec during testing when scanning to a folder on the network, are highly detailed. The 4800dpi optical scan resolution suits photos as well as complex documents or graphics.
HP's Officejet Pro 8500 Wireless inkjet multifunction offers comprehensive functionality, although it has a premium price. Though the self-cleaning process may be irritating, it's hard to ignore the connectivity options and good cost per page.
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