The HP Officejet 6500A plus e-All-in-One ($199 direct, 3.5 stars) inkjet MFP offers a wide range of all-in-one functions, easy setup, and user-friendly interface. It lets you print content using HP Web apps without needing to connect to a computer, and through HP’s ePrint you can e-mail documents directly to it for printout. For its wealth of features, coupled with solid output speed and quality and no significant flaws, the 6500A earns the Editors’ choice for a moderately priced MFP for a small or home office (or dual-purpose printer for home and home office).
The 6500A is the successor to the HP Officejet 6500 Wireless ($199.99 direct, 3.5 stars). Along with some minor improvements, such as a better display, the most significant change is that the new model is part of HP’s e-All-in-One line. That means it the can print documents using HP’s Web Apps without needing to connect to a computer. the apps provided include everything from the ability to print coupons to business forms to coloring-book pages with Disney characters. As an e-All-in-One model, it also gives you HP’s ePrint feature, which lets you print via e-mail: you e-mail an image to a printer-specific e-mail address that’s provided by HP, and the printer will output it, even if the printer’s in your office and you’re halfway around the world.
This glossy black MFP with a gently curving frame measures 18.7 by 17.7 by 10.2 inches (HWD) and weighs 18.2 pounds. a 250-sheet input tray (which fits up to legal-size paper) is ample for micro or home offices (or a home setting), and outstrips many of its peers. an automatic duplexer lets you print on both sides of a sheet of paper. a 50-page automatic document feeder (ADF) lets you copy or scan multi-page documents.
Built into the front panel is a 2.3-inch color touch screen, with the main menu screen showing icons labeled with the choices Copy, Fax, Scan, and Apps. the display, with an alphanumeric keypad to its right, remains dark until called into use. Both the touchpad and the HP software with which you can control MFP functions from your computer have refreshingly simple and clear interfaces.
The 6500A prints, copies, scans, and faxes, and works as a standalone copier or fax machine. It can scan to fax directly from the printer’s front panel, and fax from within a document on your computer (PC Fax). from the touchpad it can scan to your default e-mail client. you can scan an image directly into a program such Photoshop that uses TWAIN or WIA drivers while in that program. you can scan a file to a memory card (as PDF or JPEG) as well as print from a cardmost significant memory-card formats are supportedor to a computer. the only feature I found myself missing is the ability to scan to or print from a USB key, which we’re seeing in many MFPs, both business and consumer models, in its price range.
There is a USB 2.0 port in back of the 6500A, but it’s a printer-style one that’s solely for connecting to your computer. you can also connect through Ethernet or the built-in 802.11n Wi-Fi. we tested the MFP over an Ethernet connection with a computer that runs Windows Vista. It comes with drivers for Win XP (32 bit), both 32- and 64-bit versions of Vista and Windows 7, and Mac OS X v. 10.5.8 and 10.6. you can also download a full set of drivers for Microsoft Windows Server 2003 and 2008 (32- and 64-bit), as well as Linux print and scan drivers, from HP’s Web site.
Setup was simple and straightforward. the MFP uses four ink cartridges: cyan, magenta, yellow, and black. (It fits either a small or large black cartridge.) Setting up and testing the fax function was integrated into the setup function, a nice touch.
Performance Using QualityLogic’s hardware and software, I timed the 6500A on our business applications suite at a total of 11 minutes 35 seconds. This was a tad faster than the HP 6500 Wireless, which finished in 11:52, and the Editors’ choice HP Photosmart Premium Fax All-in-One ($299.99 direct, 4 stars), which took 12:38. the 6500A’s speed is average for an inkjet MFP; the Epson WorkForce 610 ($199.99 direct, 3.5 stars) is a speed demon at 8:39, but times slower than 15 minutes are not uncommon.
The 6500A averaged 1 minute 5 seconds in printing 4-by-6 photos and 2:30 in outputting an 8-by-10 print, nearly identical to the HP Premium Fax’s 1:07 and 2:29 scores and very similar to the HP 6500 Wireless’s 1:12 and 2:27. As opposed to its stellar business timing, the Epson 610 limped in with 2:06 and 4:42 photo-printing scores.
Quality the 6500A’s output quality for text, graphics, and photos were all typical for an inkjet MFP. In our text testing, all except one font were readable and well formed at 12 points; all fonts were readable at 12 points. the text is fine for schoolwork or most internal business documents, but not good enough for formal documents that need to impress.
Graphics were good enough for most business uses, including PowerPoint handouts. some images showed traces of banding (horizontal streaks); others showed minor dithering (the breaking up of solid areas into dots), and thin lines didn’t show well, a common problem among printers.
Photos were of a quality typical of drugstore prints, with some minor flaws. For example, a monochrome photo showed a slight tint and poor contrast, and another print showed traces of dithering. Photos were scratch-resistant and reasonably waterproof; as Officejet inks are primarily used for business printing, HP didn’t provide any data as to print longevity.
The HP Officejet 6500A plus e-All-in-One earns the Editors’ choice for its wide range of MFP functions, paper handling, ease of use, and solid performance and quality. There are faster inkjet MFPs for business printing (the Epson WorkForce 610) and ones with slightly better image quality (the WorkForce 610 and the HP Photosmart Premium Fax). But none offer as well-rounded a package for the price, and HP’s Web apps and ePrint functionality are icing on the cake.
BENCHMARK TEST RESULTS Check out the test scores for the HP Officejet 6500A plus e-All-in-One.
COMPARISON TABLE Compare the HP Officejet 6500A plus e-All-in-One with several other MFPs side by side.
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