HP is trying to persuade everybody that a good solid office inkjet printer is a better bet than a flimsy little colour laser. Its latest offering is the Officejet Pro 8500 Wireless, which is a big, robust machine, but with some of the downsides of a laser as well as the upsides of an inkjet.
The machine has a big footprint, particularly when you take in the duplexer sticking out the back, the separate, black block power supply off which it runs, and the extending paper tray at the front, which is rarely pictured open.
A 50-sheet automatic document feeder projects from the top in all its glossy black glory and projecting from the front, there's a glossy black control panel, too. This is well laid out, with a large, 87.6mm touchscreen centre stage. To the left are fax buttons, for things like auto-answer and fax resolution, while to the right is a number pad for dialling and buttons to start black and colour copies.
The flatbed scanner is a slightly awkward design, as the head rests normally close to the ADF feed at the left-hand end of the glass, while a single page scan is read from the right-hand end, so the head has to travel the full distance of the flatbed before starting a scan.
The single paper tray, positioned below the control panel, can take 250 sheets of plain paper and an optional second tray can be fitted below the machine. There's no secondary feed for photo blanks, so if and when you need to print photos you have to remove the plain paper from the A4 tray and readjust the guides for the smaller paper size.
To the right of the paper feed tray is a set of four memory card slots, which take all the standard types and there's a PictBridge socket for camera connection. To the left of the tray, a pull-down cover reveals the four individual ink tanks which take HP's new pigmented inks. These should provide increased water resistance, while at the same time producing bright, vivid colours.
You have to hinge the scanner section up to fit the two, twin-colour heads into the head carrier and the machine then performs a 15-minute charging cycle to suck the ink from cartridges to heads.
Connection between printer and PC can be made by USB connection or by Wi-Fi link, though oddly there's no cabled network socket. Wi-Fi setup is a two-stage procedure, where you get the Officejet Pro 8500 Wireless to search out your network, and enter your security key, before getting the installation software to install the network drivers from the PC end.
Although bright and easy to read, the touchscreen proved disappointing, as we experienced several misreadings of touch buttons and often had to press more than once to get a reaction.