A four-function all-in-one multifunction inkjet printer, with print, scan, copy and fax for £80 is unusual. Add in duplex print, wireless connection and touchscreen control and you’re looking at a very small field of contenders. HP’s Officejet 6500A Plus appears to be a pretty exceptional printer, but does it live up to that impressive spec sheet?
The printer is all decked out in high-gloss black, which has always looked better on pianos than on printers, and acts as a magnet for fingerprints. It has a 35-sheet Automatic Document Feeder (ADF) on top, with a cute little curve to its feed tray. In front of this a control panel with an inset touchscreen and single-function touch buttons. The power button is the only physical one on the machine.
The controls include a numeric touchpad for dialling fax numbers and other buttons which only illuminate when their functions are relevant. It’s a very easy system to use and the touchscreen integrates well with the rest of the interface.
There’s a single, front-feeding paper tray, which can take up to 250 sheets, and pages feed onto a telescopic support, formed from the paper tray’s lid. The same tray has to be used for both plain and photo paper, so you’ll need to swap paper out depending on what you’re planning to output. To the left of the trays are twin memory card slots, for SD and MemoryStick, but there’s no front panel socket for USB drives or direct printing from PictBridge-compatible cameras.
The printer supports USB, Ethernet and wireless connections and it can be assigned its own email address, so you can send images and documents to it via HP’s proprietary ePrint service. We can see more advantage to this for its ability to print from different devices such as smartphones and tablets, rather than to remote printing – but the option’s there, at least.
HP claims speeds of 10 pages per minute (ppm) and 7ppm for black and colour print and we got surprisingly close to these under test. A five-page black text document came out at 6.3ppm and a text and colour graphics one produced 4.6ppm. Taking the length of our document up to 20 pages improved the speed to 9ppm. These are good speeds for an inkjet.
Duplex printing isn’t as clever, with long waits between sides taking the overall speed down to just 2.8 sides per minute. The printer also appears to reduce the size of duplex pages, in comparison with their single-sided counterparts. This may be due to the handling requirements of the duplexer, but you’re given no warning of the change.
Print quality is pretty good, with sharp, dense black text, good bright colours and the excellent photo print quality we’ve come to expect from HP. The only shortcoming is with photocopies, which produce much thicker black text than in originals.
The four, separate ink cartridges are available in two capacities and using the high-yield version gives running costs of 2.4p for black pages and 9p for colour. These are both reasonable for this class of machine, so you’re not paying too much in consumables to compensate for the low asking price.
Contact: HP on 0845 605 6013
- Excellent set of features for £80.
- Slow, reduced size duplex pages.
While there's no doubt this printer offers a very good set of features for the money and combines this with above average performance, there are a couple of idiosyncrasies, like its slow duplex speed and reduced duplex page size, which may be a concern. If you don't print duplex of course, these problems go away.