It’s convenient for printer manufacturers not to have to quote processing and preparation times in their speed figures, particularly when, as with the HP Officejet 6500A Plus, it regularly takes 15 to 20s before printing starts. HP is one of the better manufacturers when it comes to speed specs and this printer does get closer to the quoted 10ppm, though in normal rather than best print mode.
Our 5-page text document produced a speed of 6.3ppm, with the 20-page one doing better at 9.0ppm. The black text and colour graphics test gave 4.6ppm. These are good speeds, compared with other machines at a similar price. They’re noticeably better than, for example, the Dell P513w.
The other place you will see some delays is when printing duplex. HP has tried to mitigate the length of time it's pigmented ink takes to dry, but even so there's a full 15 second pause between printing the first and second sides of each page. Also, oddly some sides are printed smaller, with larger borders in duplex mode than when printed single-sided - not really what you want.
Photocopies are reasonable, at 29s for a single colour page and 2:18 for a five-page black text document from the ADF. 15 x 10 cm photos are also quick, taking between 40s and 54s, depending on source.
The print quality is generally good, with dense, clear black text showing very few signs of bleed and colours on plain paper being bold and even. A colour copy showed very similar colours to the original, though with some variation in dither patterns. Black text in copies from both the glass and the ADF comes through rather thick, though, looking almost as if it's emboldened.
Photo prints are generally up to HP's high standards, though any true black looks raised and over-emphasised.
Ink cartridges are available in standard and XL versions though, confusingly, HP refers to the XL cartridge as Value. Using these consumables gives page costs of 3.1p for black and 9.7p the colour. Both are better than average so, even though the purchase price of the printer is low, you won't be paying through the nose to run it.
This is a good, general-purpose home office all-in-one, though it's not without its idiosyncrasies. The long wait between duplex sides and the reduction in size of some pages is annoying, as is the overall size of the machine. However, its extra features, such as ePrint and fax, are unusual in a printer at this price and help keep it a contender.