- Review Price: £178.94
Small and home office all-in-ones are getting slicker and better attuned to the needs of the teleworker. This latest HP offering includes photo printing, a comprehensive fax facility, duplex print and a wireless connection. HP has also taken a step towards reducing print costs, a long-term bugbear for many inkjet customers, and claims prints from the OfficeJet 6500 Wireless can cost up to 40 percent less than those from an equivalent colour laser. Given that there aren’t many colour lasers costing under £180, least of all multifunction machines like this, it probably has a point.
Sporting HP’s new black and white business inkjet livery, the OfficeJet 6500 Wireless certainly looks functional. Its near-flat, 30-sheet Automatic Document Feeder (ADF) has a jaunty quiff at the end of the feed tray and a blend of textured and high gloss black gives the machine character.
The control panel, which is comparatively small and all the busier for it, still includes separate function sections for scan, photo, copy and fax and there’s a full number pad for fax dialling, as well as 100 quick-dial numbers, which should be enough for most SOHO customers.
Although there’s no colour LCD display, the two-line, backlit mono LCD provides sufficient feedback for most uses. HP scrolls a variety of different status and guidance messages through the screen to provide feedback. Under the control panel is the machine’s only feed tray, which can take up to 250 sheets of plain paper or, alternatively, glossy paper for photo prints.
The output tray, as is usually the case with HP devices, fits directly above the feed tray and extends quite a way forward from the front of the machine, when it’s fully extended, as it has to be when printing. In the bottom left of the front panel are twin memory card slots, but these don’t cater for CompactFlash cards any more, just MemoryCard, SD and xD. There’s no USB socket at the front, either, which is a shame as they can now often be used for printing from USB drives and scanning directly to them.
At the back are sockets for USB, Ethernet and for a fax cable and optional handset, but many customers will opt for the wireless connection and this is remarkably easy to set up on the OfficeJet 6500 Wireless. Although you need to connect the machine to a PC temporarily via USB – there’s a cable in the box – once you’ve selected wireless connection the whole setup completes automatically; you’re not even asked for your WEP key. We’re still considering whether this is one up for ease-of-use or one down for network security.
The machine uses a plug-in print head, with four ink cartridges plugging into the head itself. This arrangement and the look of the cartridges themselves suggest that either HP has been taking a good look at Canon’s cartridge design or that Canon makes the consumables for this machine. It’s open knowledge that Canon has produced HP’s laser engines for years, so perhaps the collaboration now extends to inkjets, too.
The standard software bundle you’d expect with a modern HP all-in-one, including basic OCR and management of scanning and printing, is provided and the machine can be connected to versions of Windows from 2000 on or to OS X 10.4 and above. Linux use is supported by HPLIP and is known to work with versions of SuSE, Fedora, Ubuntu and Debian.
The ISO standard for speed testing seems to have made some impression on the stupid figures often quoted for print speeds. HP quotes a much more rational 8.2ppm for black print and 5.4ppm for colour, in normal print mode. Our five-page text print returned a real-world speed of 4.17ppm, but when we bumped up the document length to 20 pages, it gave 8.96ppm, over half a page a minute faster than the rated speed.
Our black text and colour graphics print returned 3.90ppm, a little slower than the claim, but overall not a bad set of results. It has to be said, though, that the machine still does a lot of fiddling about with its ink cartridges before starting to print. This wasted from 15s to 38s per job during tests, depending, presumably, on what needed charging up.
Against this, print speeds for photos are pretty amazing, for a machine not specialising in image printing. A 15 x 10cm photo print from PC on A4 paper took just 51s and when we printed from an SD card onto a 15 x 10cm blank, the time reduced to 41s.
You might expect the quality to suffer when printing at these speeds, but our results were well up to HP’s usual high standard. Colour transitions are smooth and although there is some loss of shadow detail, this should be relatively easy to compensate for.
Plain paper print quality is fine, too. While not up to the laser quality HP claims, it’s still very clean, with minimal feathering of ink. The only place this isn’t true is when copying black text. While print is still reasonable, it’s quite a bit fuzzier and headlines in bold look particularly over-inked. Colour print on plain paper is good, with bright colours and tight registration.
There is one set of colour cartridges available for this machine, though two blacks are available. The higher yield, XL set offer 700 pages of colour and 1,200 pages of black, moving into the low end of the laser printer world. Cartridge prices are pretty reasonable, too, giving a cost per page for black print of 2.28p and for colour 5.41p, both including 0.7p for paper, as we always do.
These costs are more than comparable with entry-level colour laser printers. In fact, HP’s claim of a 40 percent saving, particularly when considering the colour print cost, looks conservative.
The OfficeJet 6500 Wireless is a well-featured SOHO all-in-one machine and HP has obviously made real efforts to reduce the running costs. Print speeds actually approach manufacturer’s claims and in the case of photo prints are unexpectedly quick. The only missing feature we could ask for is that front-panel USB socket, but perhaps that’s ungracious.
Score in detail
Print Speed 8
Print Quality 8
|Networking||Wireless Ethernet - IEEE802.11b, Wireless Ethernet - IEEE802.11g, Ethernet, Wi-Fi|
|Card slot||Memory Stick, Memory Stick Duo, Memory Stick PRO, MultiMedia Card (MMC), SD Card, xD-Picture Card, Secure Digital, MMC|
|Paper Size||Letter, Legal, Statement, Executive, 3" x 5", 4" x 6", 5" x 7", 5" x 8", 4" x 10", 4" x 11", 4" x 12", 8" x 10", Envelope No. 10, DL Envelope, Custom Size|
|Sheet Capacity||250, 250 sheets|
|Rated Black Speed (Images per minute)||32 ppmipm|
|Rated Colour Speed (Images per minute)||31 ppmipm|
|Scan Resolution (Dots per inch)||2400 x 4800dpi, 2400 dpi|