In the past the value of a printer was solely in its ability to produce a quality print-out, but the market has shifted, thanks to consumer knowledge and the blurring of definitions governing business and home-use printers. Buyers are more focused on buying a unit that will offer the functionality of what might previously have been considered a high-end industrial-usage printer, with multiple functions and high quality, but at a reasonable price.
That is what faces every printer manufacturer, and HP are no different – they are constantly pushing to produce affordable unites, and in the Officejet Pro 8600 Plus, which is designed primarily for small business use as well as home use, they’ve made an impressive effort of dealing with a lot of their customer’s needs in one all-in-one unit.
Key Features: Duplex print, scan and copy; ePrint, AirPrint and Direct Print; 109mm touchscreen; High print speed for inkjet; Memory card and USB stick sockets.
The first thing to note is the colour, which is the less conventional choice of autumnal browny gold, with darker inlays. It’s quite a bold choice considering the usual lack of colourful flair on the market, but it’s hardly going to stick out in the corner of the office either. If a printer could really look fashionable, the 8600 Plus would fit the bill.
Aesthetically it’s all very pleasing – the size isn’t particularly cumbersome, even despite the features packed in, but there is ample space for a large LCD touchscreen, which is pleasantly simple to use.
The printer comes with two memory card readers as well as a single socket for a USB drive, and sockets on the back for USB and Ethernet connections, as well as wireless functionality as well, which provides full ePrint, AirPrint and Wi-Fi direct printing from mobile devices. There’s a single, simple 250-sheet paper tray, which doesn’t come with a multi-purpose alternative, but you can take the option of another single tray.
The software includes ReadIRIS OCR, through the HP Scan application,and naturaly it comes with drivers for both scanner and printer
It’s set-up for four separate ink cartridges, with a double-width black cartridge that boasts more than 2000 printable pages in the XL version.
HP claim the printer will meet all your high volume print job deadlines in rapid speeds – up to 20 pages per minute black and 16 pages per minute colour, which is a bold claim and which is probably best to consider as an ideal time, without the added concern of pre-processing time. Based on our use of the unit, around half of that figure is a more realistic expectation.
You can of course compromise on quality by switching to Draft Mode for quicker printing, and in all honesty the drop in quality is pretty negligible.
The print quality is excellent all round – it’s not quite up to laserjet standard, but it’s not as big a gap as you might think, and that’s another plus for this printer. Blacks are solid and dense, colours clean and smooth, and colour copies don’t drop in quality, which you can often see.
At under £150 inc VAT, the unit is a bargain, considering what you get for your money, and in comparison to a laserjet price, there’s just no competition for small business and home use. The cartridges are reasonable as well – the black is available in standard and high yield versions, and the colours in high yield only.
Page costs work out at roughly 1.8p for black and 5.1p for colour, which is an impressive figure, and could put some far more expensive units to massive shame.
The big question is, is this good enough to convince laserjet users to make the switch? And it’s a resounding yes – the low cost, as well as lower running costs, plus the high performance make it a strong contender for anyone looking for a new printer, especially for small business needs and home use.
Review unit supplied by Misco.
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