To further push the ‘beats a colour laser’ sales line, HP quotes speeds of 15ppm for black and 11ppm for colour print in normal mode, rising to 35ppm and 34ppm in draft. You might get somewhere near the normal speeds on very simple pages, if you exclude the preparation time before paper starts to feed. In the real world, though, you're likely to see preparation time of anything up to 20s, as we did.
Even so, we saw speeds on our five-page text print of between eight and nine pages per minute, though these didn't rise significantly when printing in draft mode, as they were swamped by the start-up times.
The 20-page text print increased the speed to 12.4ppm, not that far off the 15ppm quoted. Duplex print, which is standard on the Officejet Pro 8500A Plus, is still bound by the drying time needed between page sides and brings the speed down to 3.7 sides per minute.
Unusually for any inkjet all-in-one, the ADF is also duplex, so you can do full duplex copies and copy from duplex to simplex as well as simplex to duplex. There is no separate photo paper tray, so you have to remove the plain paper and load photo paper separately, but you can feed paper sizes down to 15 x 10 cm.
Print quality is fair, though we noticed some toner spatter around characters, particularly in bold text, which give a slightly smeared appearance. Colour graphics come out very well, being bright, solid and totally lacking in any dot patterns. Photos are also very good for a business printer relying on four-colour print. They are better than anything you'll see out of a colour laser.
The printheads should be lifetime components, so your only costs will be for ink. The black cartridges are available in yields of 1,000 and 2,200 pages and each of the three colour consumables has a yield of 1,400 pages. This gives ISO costs per page of 1.5p black and 4p colour. These are considerably lower than from any colour laser printer we've tested.
This is a fine, robust inkjet all-in-one, well up to general use in a small office. The touch panel works well and is much easier to use than equivalent physical keys. Possibly more of a gimmick is the ePrint facility, though some ‘must-have’ use may suddenly spring up for this feature, making us look suitably eggy-faced.