Despite its low price tag, HP's Officejet 6500A packs in plenty of features. This includes an Ethernet port, colour touchscreen, automatic document feeder and fax support. That's an awful lot of features on a model that can be bought online for just £90. So is it an ideal budget machine for a home office?
The Officejet 6500A is a big beast of a machine, standing 409mm tall with a footprint of 476x258mm. Nevertheless, the printer's piano-black finish looks pretty classy, even if it does tend to show up fingerprint smudges.
The scanner lid houses an automatic document feeder that lets you automatically scan or fax multi-page documents, and it can accept up to 35 pages at a time. The bottom of the machine is home to a paper in-tray that can hold up to 250 sheets, which should be enough for most home office users. Paper is fed out into a telescopic tray that's formed from the lid of the paper feeder, and this feels relatively robust.
The 6500A's 2.4-inch touchscreen makes the printer very easy to use, and to the right of this screen there's a numerical touchpad for dialling fax numbers. There are no dedicated quick-dial buttons, but you can set up quick-dial numbers via the touchscreen.
The 6500A can be connected to your computer either directly via USB or by plugging it into your home network via its wired Ethernet port. Sadly, there's no Wi-Fi onboard. If you want that feature you'll have to step up to the Plus model, which also adds duplex printing support -- something that's absent here.
Set-up is quick and easy, thanks in part to the way animations on the touchscreen guide you through the process. If you want to take advantage of this model's Web features, you need to use the Ethernet rather than USB port. Once connected, you can set up the printer to work with HP's ePrint service that lets you email jobs to the printer from any Web-connected PC or phone. The printer also includes a number of Web Apps that give you access to Internet content, such as colouring pages for the kids, as well as the ability to print a summary of the day's news via Yahoo.
Scanning and copying
The scanner has a maximum resolution of 4,800dpi and produces good quality results with accurate colours and decent reproduction of fine detail. The printer is also relatively quick when it comes to photocopying. It copied our black and white test sheet in 19 seconds, which is similar in speed to most other inkjet multifunction models. The copies were of a high quality too, with text remaining dark and plenty of shadow detail retained on the images.
Speed, quality and cost
When it came to our print speed tests, the 6500A was a pretty decent performer. It pumped out our 10-page text document in 1 minute 23 seconds, which puts it up there with some of the fastest multifunction inkjet models. Our 10-page colour graphics and business presentation documents were completed in 2 minutes 55 seconds and 2 minutes 24 seconds respectively, which is also pretty speedy. And it took just 37 seconds to produce our 4x6-inch snap, so it's no slouch when it comes to photo printing either.
Thankfully, this model doesn't sacrifice quality for speed, as its output was universally impressive. Text was crisp and solidly formed, and graphics documents had bold colours and very few signs of dithering or banding. Even photos prints were impressive for a model that's predominantly aimed at home office users.
The 6500A is pretty cheap to run, too. Black and white pages work out at a very low 2p per sheet, while colour printing costs are also very reasonable at 4p per page.
This is a good all-round model for those looking for a printer to use in their home office. It's cheap to run, produces excellent quality output and offers a good line-up of features for the money. If you're willing to pay just a tenner more, however, you can get duplex printing and Wi-Fi support on the Plus version of this model.