Network inkjet printers for small office/home office (SOHO) use face a stiff battle from the cheap crisp quality of laser output. HP's Officejet Pro 8000 also has to compete with inexpensive multifunction devices, as it's a single function only device. HP's pitch for this is that it's cheaper to run than a colour laser and faster than most multifunction devices.
The A809's size belies its single use function. We've seen small multifunction devices in this size casing before, which means as a single use device it's on the larger side. The flip side of that argument, however, is that it's smaller than most SOHO colour laser printers.
Most printer set-ups involve the same tedious steps. Remove the sticky plastic, chuck in a few print cartridges, hook up the power and install the drivers. The Officejet Pro 8000 slightly bucks this trend, as it comes with what at first glance appear to be more print cartridges than it could possibly accommodate. That's because HP has taken the interesting step of making the printhead a separately installable part that slots in at the top in two pieces. The actual ink tanks reside in a well dug into the left-hand side underneath the printhead's resting place, and are slotted so that it's not possible to incorrectly insert them. There's no struggles here to install fiddly printheads as we've seen on many other models, but a slightly longer physical installation period as there's more individual bits to install.
The feature set of the Officejet Pro 8000 marks it out solidly as a SOHO option. Networking is standard, as is duplexing with a supplied module that easily slots into the rear of the print unit. The adjustable front-mounted paper tray will take up to 250 standard sheets of paper.
One feature that almost every inkjet we test seems to come with these days, which the Officejet 8000 omits, is any kind of media card reader. Within a SOHO setting it's a less vital item, but if your office printing needs include any kind of photography printing you'll have to do so indirectly from a computer.
HP's own figures suggest print speeds of 35 pages per minute (ppm) in draft black and 34ppm in draft colour. If you want near laser quality, those suggested speeds drop to 15ppm and 11ppm respectively. We say suggested, as we're yet to see a manufacturer accurately quote ppm figures that hit anywhere close to the results in real-world testing. HP's aim for the Officejet 8000 is to take on laser performance and price, and it does this with a claimed 50 per cent reduction in cost per page, although it should be noted that this is for colour page print costs.
While the physical set-up of the Officejet 8000 was easy enough, if a little time consuming, we hit a much longer roadblock when performing our software installation on a test system. The supplied driver CD reported Windows 7 Ultimate 64-bit edition as an "unsupported operating system" and suggested we "upgrade". Aside from perhaps switching camps to Linux or a Hackintosh (depending on your OS preferences) we're not sure how that's possible, but the solution was to download a fresh, Windows 7 compatible driver pack from HP's website.