Once you connect the printer to a wireless network, you can use HP's AirPrint feature to print from any iOS device without an additional application. Using AirPrint, you can print out a photo from your iPhoto library by simply choosing the connected printer and hitting Print. You can't adjust any print properties, however; and our Hipstamatic test photo printed with a portion missing on both letter-size paper and 4x6-inch photo paper.
In addition to AirPrint, the Officejet Pro 8500A Plus also features HP's ePrint technology, which enables you to send jobs from any connected device to the printer using the uniquely assigned e-mail address. You can find this address using the control panel (Wireless > Web Services > Display Email). It's a convenient feature, to be sure, but it comes with a few restrictions. For one, the printer must be on and also connected to your network. For another, it can't print Web pages, although you can simply copy and paste the text into a document as a workaround.
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 Web site after creating an account.
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. The duplexing autodocument feeder on top of the machine can also flip pages around for hands-free scanning of single and double-sided originals.
The HP Officejet Pro 8600 Plus registered similar scores to the preceding Officejet Pro 8500A Plus, with a slight bump in print speeds across all four output tests. Despite the improved engine, the Epson WorkForce 840 was still able to outgun HP in the presentation and plain black-text speed tests, albeit only marginally.
(Longer bars indicate better performance)
|Black text||Color graphics||Photo||Presentation|
You could easily mistake the excellent print quality of the HP Officejet Pro 8600 Plus for output from a laser printer. With solid lines in both color and black and white, and especially darkened grayscale prints, the documents are of high-enough quality that I wouldn't hesitate to hand them out at a client meeting. Like the WorkForce 840, the Officejet Pro 8600 Plus exhibited impressively crisp photo output quality with bright, vivid colors and minimal blurring even in finer text sizes.
Service and support
HP backs the Officejet Pro 8600 Plus with a standard one-year warranty, which includes 24-7 toll-free phone support and live Webchat during weekdays. HP's Web site also contains downloadable drivers, software, and manuals; e-mail tech support; FAQs; and a troubleshooting guide. You can return the product within 21 days of delivery.
HP succeeds again in building a classy, fast, reliable all-in-one imaging device for the business market, but I wouldn't end my recommendation at the office door. With its spread of convenient connectivity features and cloud printing that includes ePrint and AirPrint compatibility, the affordable Officejet Pro 8600 Plus will earn its place as a solid performer in any environment that demands high-quality document and image prints.
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