HP Officejet J6480 review: HP Officejet J6480

In addition to the drivers, the J6480 also ships with HP's Photosmart Essential and Solution Center software. The former allows you to import, organize, edit, and share your digital photos, while the latter helps you fax and scan documents as well as order additional supplies to use with your printer. The J6480 has a two-cartridge bay with one single black cartridge ($15) and another tricolor cartridge ($18) for color prints. We ran low on color ink during our testing, so we suggest that you purchase the XL cartridge that's available on the HP Web site for $35. They're double the price of the standard cartridge but offer three times the page yields in both black and color.

The scanner on the J6480 comes with onboard Optical Character Recognition (OCR) 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 document 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 as well as any of the handwritten portions, no matter how uniform the character. Instead, the scanner changed our letters into a font that looked a lot like Wing Dings. 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.

Performance
The HP Officejet J6480 excelled against its competitors in all the speed test categories except photo. In this case, the HP tested dead last at 0.83 photo per minute and couldn't even beat out the Lexmark x7550, which was the previous model to beat for dead slowest photo printer (1.16 PPM). Photos aside, the rest of the speeds were surprisingly quick. The J6480 blew away the Brother MFC-685CW and the Kodak EasyShare 5500 in the speed test, and the 3.4 page-per-minute scan speed is one of the higher benchmarks in the AIO printer category.

Print speed test (in pages per minute)
(Longer bars indicate better performance)
Copy (PPM)  
Color scanning speed (PPM)  
Photo speed (PPM)  
Graphics speed (PPM)  
Text speed (PPM)  
HP Officejet J6480
1.84 
3.4 
0.83 
2.17 
5.54 
Kodak EasyShare 5500
1.69 
5.13 
1.31 
2.59 
4.48 
Lexmark x7550
2.9 
1.16 
1.57 
5.41 
Brother MFC-685cw
2.78 
3.65 
1.3 
1.99 
2.76 

Those who decide to use the J6480 to print photos will be rewarded for their wait--text, graphics, and full-color photos are very pleasing with detailed, sharp lines. We did notice some color casts on some of the prints, but a few tweaks in HP's image-editing software fixed the issue in less than five minutes. The skin tones in our portrait shots blended well with their background and exhibited a rich color palette, including dark purples and lighter shades of blue and green. We recommend HP's Premium Presentation Paper for presentations and other high traffic documents--the nozzle had a hard time laying down a smooth color gradient on plain paper and the matte-coated finish lends itself better to the tricolor inks.

Service and support
HP includes a one-year warranty with its J6480, with the option to upgrade to its "Total One Package," which offers an additional two years of HP Accidental Damage Protection and access to its 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, www.hp.com.

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