HP Officejet 6500 All-in-One Printer Review

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$159

Pros: Attractive design; Fast speeds; Users can toggle between quality and speed using a button; Built-in duplexer; High-capacity paper tray

Cons: Subpar photo quality; Noisy; No CompactFlash support

Verdict: This sleek, fast all-in-one delivers good print quality, except when it comes to photos.

If you want a wireless all-in-one for business use, the HP Officejet 6500 is a solid choice. It's fast, attractively designed, comes with reasonable ink prices, and, with the exception of photos, delivers decent print quality.

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Design

Next to theKodak ESP 7, the Officejet 6500 is one of the more attractive business all-in-ones you can buy. Its black finish and neon green accents, while not for everyone, keep it looking modern (much more so, certainly, than dull silver-and-black models fromCanon,Epson, andLexmark). It has a one-line OLED display as opposed to an LCD screen, which saves space, but also means the user has to press the navigational arrows more often to scroll through menus. Uniquely, there's a quality button that allows you to toggle between three settings that prioritize speed and quality (we tested with the middle setting, which strives to find a balance between the two).

All of the paper, including photo sheets, are meant to be loaded on the tray at the bottom of the Officejet 6500. We wish this tray retracted into the printer, as it does with the ESP 7. A dedicated photo tray would have been nice, too, but we only saw this on the ESP 7. The 6500 also supports a variety of memory cards, including SD, MMC, MS, and xD. Unfortunately, the Officejet 6500 is the only one of five all in ones we tested that doesn't support the pro-level CompactFlash (CF) format.

Setup

Setting up the printer was easy. Although we had to connect it the first time using the bundled USB cable (something we didn't have to do with the Kodak ESP 7), we appreciated that we could set up the printer for wireless and USB connectivity at the same time (every other printer in this roundup required us to configure wireless and USB drivers separately).

Performance and Print Speeds

We noticed immediately that this printer is noisier than other business all-ones we've tested; it's loud at startup, while it prepares to print, and while it completes a job (the Kodak ESP 7 is also noisy). TheCanon Pixma MX860andEpson Workforce 600, in contrast, are much quieter.

The printer comes with a duplexer, which you pop into the back. It gives the printer an even larger footprint, and the printer won't print without it (the upshot, of course, is that you have the option of money- and paper-saving double-sided prints). Every other wireless all-in-one we've recently reviewed has built-in two-sided printing, but the duplexer doesn't usually cause the printer to have such a bulky shape.

When it came to printing, we performed tests both over a Wi-Fi network and over a traditional USB connection (you can also use the bundled Ethernet cable to connect to your router or access point, if you like). Our test documents included a two-page Word document; a 6-page PowerPoint presentation, including photos and colorful graphics; a 2-page PDF with lots of fine print; and two photos, printed on both 4 x 6- and 8.5 x 11-inch photo paper.

Over Wi-Fi, it took 37 seconds to print the Word document, 48 seconds to print the PDF, and 1:42 to print the PowerPoint document. It took 24 seconds to print a 4 x 6-inch photo and 31 seconds to print an 8.5 x 11-inch photo. On average, the printer took 21 seconds to begin printing, with the exception of photos, which took between 16 seconds and 37. The Officejet 6500 averaged a relatively brisk 1:01 seconds over Wi-Fi, second only to the Epson WorkForce 600 (48 seconds) among five all-in-ones we've recently tested, and well below the 1:36 average.

These times did not always improve when we printed the same documents via USB instead of Wi-Fi. For instance, while it took 27 seconds to print the Word document while plugged in, its times of 1:00 for the PDF document and 1:45 for the PowerPoint presentation were slower. Ditto for photos: both its 4 x 6- and 8.5 x 11-inch printing times stayed the same at 24 and 31 seconds, respectively. Overall, the Officejet 6500 averaged 1:01 over USB, another second place finish.

Print Quality

The Officejet 6500's photo quality was weak; our photos appeared overexposed with a blue-green overcast. Fresh off the presses, our prints were also the only ones of the business all-in-ones we tested that smudged. That said, our office documents stood up much better against the competition. Colorful graphics appeared bright, with accurate colors and minimal streaking. The fine print in one document showed a few smudged words, but looked mostly clear.

Ink Refills

Like Canon, HP charges $19.99 for a black ink cartridge and $9.99 for individual color ones (magenta, cyan, and yellow). That's not bad: Kodak charges $9.99 and $14.99 for their black and color cartridges, respectively, though theirs is a five-color cartridge, not a single-color one. This translates to about 5 cents per black-and-white document, and 10 cents per color page. Meanwhile, Lexmark and Epson both charge more for both black-and-white and color cartridges.

Other Functionality

In addition to printing, the 6500 scans and faxes wirelessly. It copies, but not sans wires. The printer's standout spec is its paper tray's 250-sheet paper capacity; most other all-in-ones can only hold 100 sheets at a time. Otherwise, the features are standard: 2400 x 4800 dpi scanning resolution, storage of up to 100 fax numbers, and a reduction/enlargement range (for copying) of 25-400 percent. It can receive up to 100 fax pages at once, which is pretty standard.

Software and Warranty

On the software side, the HP Solutions Center includes HP's Document Manager, which, among other things, makes it easy to print photos. The interface, which includes a blend of cartoonish icons and Windows tree menus, is a bit crude, but easy to navigate. The printer has a one-year limited warranty.

Verdict

On the one hand, the $159 HP Officejet 6500 offers fast wireless speeds, good print quality when it comes to documents, a high-capacity paper tray, and an attractive, relatively compact design. However, it's noisy, and its photo quality doesn't hold a candle to Canon or Kodak's. We'd sooner recommend the Kodak ESP 7 ($199); although its missing a fax machine and isn't quite as fast, it still offers decent speeds--not to mention strong photo quality and inexpensive supplies.

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Accessories Type Printers
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Size 18.7 x 16.1 x 10.2 inches
Weight 17.8 pounds
Company Website http://www.hp.com