HP Officejet Pro 8500A Plus multifunction inkjet printer

HP Officejet Pro 8500A Plus review: This inkjet printer from HP produces A4 documents and photos quickly

The HP Officejet Pro 8500A Plus is a multifunction inkjet printer aimed at small and medium businesses. It is able to print draft documents very quickly, and can produce high quality pages if you don't mind slower printing. It's also able to produce good quality photo prints.

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HP Officejet Pro 8500A Plus multifunction inkjet printer: Design, connectivity and specifications

The HP Officejet Pro 8500A Plus is similar to the cheaper Officejet 7500A in design, with a top-mounted scanner and bottom-feeding paper cartridge. Its colour touchscreen control interface is larger than the 7500A at 4.3in, with large icons and responsive input.

Single- and multi-computer offices are well served by the HP Officejet Pro 8500A Plus's diverse range of connection options. The printer includes USB 2.0 and Ethernet connections, as well as 802.11n wireless networking. A phone jack is included for connection of the integrated fax.

The HP Officejet Pro 8500A Plus has a 250-sheet input tray and a 150-sheet output tray, equalling or bettering many inkjet and laser printers of a similar price point. Along with a 15,000 page monthly duty cycle recommendation, these figures mean the Officejet Pro 8500A Plus is suitable for any small or medium business, as long as it isn't too heavy on paper usage.

Automatic duplex means that for unimportant documents it's easy to cut down on paper requirements. A 50-sheet automatic document feeder makes digitising multi-page documents a simple task. All of these features are a welcome inclusion in a printer that costs under $500.

All of HP's ePrint features are enabled on the Officejet Pro 8500A Plus, including the option to set up an e-mail address that prints all documents sent to it. The range of applications available isn't particularly attractive for businesses — beyond the interesting possibilities of Google Docs cloud storage, the service is limited to printable sudoku and weather data at the moment.

HP Officejet Pro 8500A Plus multifunction inkjet printer: Print speed, print quality and ink yields

If you want to quickly print pages, the HP Officejet Pro 8500A Plus rivals similarly priced colour laser printers when it is printing in Draft quality mode. We managed 31 pages over a minute when printing at the most efficient monochrome quality, and just under 30 pages in the first minute of colour printing. Text can seem undersaturated and a little fuzzy, but it's still easily legible at sizes of 8pt and above.

Like the Officejet 7500A, printing in Normal quality improves results dramatically. Text rivals entry-level lasers for clarity and we couldn't find any issues with saturation. Colour printing slows to 7 pages per minute, but monochrome production is still acceptable at 15 pages per minute.

We also used the HP Officejet Pro 8500A Plus to print a few A4 colour and monochrome prints. The black and white output isn't going to rival a dedicated photo printer like the Canon PIXMA Pro 9500 Mark II, but for most print needs it can produce acceptable quality A4 pages.

Four ink cartridges — HP 940 black, cyan, magenta and yellow — means that it's possible to change individual tanks without wasting any ink. HP's cartridges for the Officejet Pro 8500A Plus are more expensive than the HP Officejet 7500A, but they have significantly higher ink yields. You can buy a standard or extra large black cartridge for $39 or $54 respectively, with commensurate 1000- and 2200-page yields which translate into very low 3.9cent and 2.4cent per page ongoing running costs. Only extra large colour cartridge are available for purchase at $39 each, making a full set of inks $117. This means individual colour pages cost 2.7 cents each, and tri-colour pages cost 8.1 cents.

While its built-in applications aren't particularly inspiring or especially relevant to business users, the HP Officejet Pro 8500A Plus does well what a printer should do best — it can produce draft prints quickly as well as high quality documents and photos. If you need an all-in-one for your SMB, the Officejet Pro 8500A is worthy of your consideration.

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