Along with the standard Copy, Fax, and Scan options listed on the home screen of the Officejet Pro's control panel, you get a fourth icon labeled Apps. Our test unit came preloaded with 21 apps that let you print new pages from outlets like the Financial Times, Yahoo, Reuters, and USA Today. Others from DreamWorks, Nickelodeon, and Disney let you print coloring pages, paper airplane templates, and other crafts. You can install additional free apps, but you must do so from HP's ePrint Center Website after creating an account. The craft pages were a hit with this reviewer's kids, but we doubt many business users will find them useful.
The standard flat-bed scanner/copier measures 8.5x14 inches, meaning it can scan or copy letter- and legal-size documents. With its 4,800-dpi resolution, scanned and copied documents look crisp and sharp, and you can send scans to a PC, a memory card, a network folder, or an e-mail program.
HP ships the Officejet Pro 8500A Plus with two printheads you must install, along with the standard four ink cartridges (black, cyan, magenta, and yellow). The cost per page figures are low, particularly when you calculate them using HP's high-capacity XL cartridges for a better deal. The black XL cartridge costs $35.99 for an estimated 2,200 pages, which works out to only 1.6 cents per page. The three color XL cartridges cost $25.99 each for a rated 1,400 pages, for a reasonable cost per page of 5.6 cents. In comparison, the Epson WorkForce 840 costs more to refill XL cartridges at 3 cents per page for monochrome printing and 7.2 cents for color.
The HP Officejet Pro 8500A Pro turned in nearly identical scores to the preceding Officejet Pro 8500 Wireless. It was slightly faster on our text, color graphics, and photo speed tests and slightly slower on our presentation speed test, but neither of the printers' text scores rose above one page per minute. Compared with the Epson WorkForce 840, the Officejet Pro 8500A Pro offers almost the same text speed at roughly 12 ppm, but it prints color graphics faster by nearly 1 ppm and achieves nearly double the photo print speed, at 1.5s ppm compared with the Epson's 0.86 ppm.
(Longer bars indicate better performance)
|Black text||Color graphics||Photo||Presentation|
The HP Officejet Pro 8500A Plus proved speedier than the Epson WorkForce 840 on our scan and copy tests. The 8500A Plus scanned a 10-page color document at 6.14 ppm versus 5.59 ppm for the Epson, and it copied 10 pages of monochrome text at 7.12 ppm versus 5.48 ppm for the Epson.
In terms of print quality, however, the HP Officejet Pro 8500A Plus will suffice for office and home use, but we must give the edge to the Epson WorkForce 840. We viewed the output of the two printers side by side and found that the WorkForce 840 produces slightly crisper text with brighter tones and more vivid color. It almost looked like the Officejet Pro 8500A Plus used too much ink in printing text, particularly at smaller fonts that contributed to blurred edges.
Service and support
HP backs the Officejet Pro 8500A Plus with a one-year warranty that includes 24-hour toll-free technical support. In addition, the HP Web site offers online classes, FAQs, driver downloads, and basic troubleshooting trips.
The HP Officejet Pro 8500A Plus has a high price tag and some questionably useful features. Home users aren't likely to take advantage of the fax functionality, while most business users would happily trade the AirPrint and ePrint features for an additional paper tray. If your budget allows for a somewhat extravagant all-in-one printer purchase, we recommend skipping the HP Officejet Pro 8500A Plus with its superfluous features in favor of the Epson WorkForce 840, which offers more paper storage and better quality output in a smaller package.
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