If you expect to print an astronomical number of documents, HP also sells an optional 250-sheet input tray for $80 that fits directly underneath the printer. The top of the printer houses a 50-sheet automatic document feeder for scanning and/or copying, and a small autoduplexer installs in the rear for double-sided printing. Finally, since this printer is aimed at the business market, the duty cycle runs up to 15,000 pages per month, which should be more than enough to satiate any small- to medium-size business.
In addition to the drivers, the Pro 8500 also ships with HP's Photosmart Essential and Solution Center software. The former helps your import, organize, edit, and share your digital photos, and the latter helps you fax and scan documents as well as order additional supplies to use with your printer. The printer draws ink from four individual cartridges and two print heads that house an additional two colors. We used HP's XL print cartridges that offer the best deal and found that a full page of black-only ink will cost 1.6 cents per page and 1.9 cents per color; both costs are well under the 3 cents per page average by today's modern printing standards.
The scanner on the 8500 comes with onboard Optical Character Recognition software that allows the scanner to interpret graphics into editable text. The HP Solution Center software has a "convert to text" option as well as an embedded "save as editable text" feature that automatically converts as it scans. We tested this functionality using several documents, including handwritten notes as well as simple text doc printouts and we received mixed results. Large, clear text translated well and the software even matched the original fonts, but the algorithm couldn't recognize our smaller letters and any of the handwritten portions, no matter how uniform the characters were. Instead, the scanner changed our letters into a font that looked a lot like Wingdings. All in all, the OCR isn't perfect, but you can count on it to work for light editing on presentations and other large-format scans.
Once again, HP doesn't fail to impress us with its lightning-fast print speeds. In this case, the Pro 8500 registered competition-stomping results in three out of the four benchmark tests, most notably in text, where it printed 11.35 pages per minute--double the speed of the next fastest (and still impressive) Epson Artisan 800. The rest of the categories proved equally impressive with the exception of the photo speed test, which scored 1.39 pages per minute--by no means disappointing, just average. Regardless, busy offices that have little to no time to waste waiting for a document to print will undoubtedly appreciate the performance speeds of the Pro 8500.
(Longer bars indicate better performance)
|Presentation speed (PPM)||Photo speed (1 sheet)||Color graphics speed (PPM)||Text speed (PPM)|
We also couldn't be more pleased with the output quality of the photos and documents. It's true that most offices won't put as much importance on the quality of prints as the speed, but it's good to know that no matter what the settings say, the device will still give you pinpoint color accuracy. Our test photos exhibit evenly saturated colors and thorough shading that few other printers can achieve. Our litmus test for all printers is how the ink lays on plain 20-pound paper, and the Pro 8500 easily passed this test, showing an impressive range of dynamic detail. The skin tones in our portrait shots blended well with their backgrounds and showed a rich color palette, including dark purples and lighter shades of blue and green.
Service and support HP includes a one-year warranty with the option to upgrade to the Total One Package, which offers an additional two years of HP accidental damage protection, and access to the pick up and return program. In addition, coverage is extended for qualifying peripherals during the same time period. The standard warranty includes 24-hour toll-free technical support. In addition, online classes, FAQs, driver downloads, and basic troubleshooting can be found at HP's Web site.
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