As if to emphasise the possibility of replacing a colour laser printer with this machine, HP quotes speeds of 35ppm for black print and 34ppm for colour. In fact, we saw a maximum speed of 12.8ppm, printing our 20-page black text document. Printing the black text and colour graphics document produced a speed of 5.8ppm.
This doesn't compare particularly well with colour laser printers at similar price points. For example, the recently tested Lexmark C543dn, costing around £250 (printer, not multifunction), can manage over 16ppm in black and 10ppm in colour.
When we used the duplexer on the Officejet Pro, to produce double-sided documents, the speed dropped further, to around 3.3spm, due to an 11 second drying time, inserted between the printing of each side, because of the pigmented inks. This is slow enough that duplexing will probably get little use - what a shame. Printing photos, while not the main task of an office inkjet like this, was also comparatively slow, with an average time of around 1:40 for a 15 x 10cm print.
Print quality from the new inks is generally good, though slight feathering is visible around emboldened characters in cross heads, etc. Colours in business graphics, as you might expect from the larger, pigmented particle size, are bright and vivid, just as you want them. Registration of black text over colour is also good and a test colour photocopy showed less fading than many.
Photo prints also come out pretty well, certainly much better than from any colour laser we've seen, though some detail is lost from shadowed areas of images.
HP claims half the running costs of a typical colour laser for this machine. The ink cartridges are available in two capacities and using the XL Value consumables produces costs of 1.91p for black and 5.54p for colour. Again, comparing with the Lexmark colour laser, HP has a point. The C543dn costs 3.16p for black and 12.00p for colour, so considerable savings are available from the Officejet Pro.
If you need even the occasional photo print in your business, the Officejet Pro 8500 Wireless is a better bet than a typical colour laser multifunction at the same price. It's cheap to run, though, despite what HP says, a lot slower too, particularly when printing duplex pages. It's also pretty noisy, with the company admitting to noise levels of 62dBA, with which we wouldn't argue. That could out-din many an office laser.