HP OfficeJet Pro 8500 Wireless
Colour laser killer?
Review HP has a difficult game to play. It wants to increase usage of its inkjet printers and all-in-ones by selling them small business, but in doing so it risks hitting the colour laser printer market, in which it’s the major player. The OfficeJet Pro 8500 Wireless is a case in point. It's a fast, high-capacity inkjet all-in-one which could directly undercut sales of colour lasers.
HP's OfficeJet Pro 8500 Wireless: laser beater?
Folk who still view inkjet printers as devices where the ink cartridges clip into the print heads and need replacing often, with ink costing more per cubic centimetre than vintage champagne, should think again. The OfficeJet Pro 8500 Wireless cartridges last for thousands of pages, plug in conveniently at the front and the ink has nothing on a good Chateau Lafite.
This isn’t the world’s most attractive all-in-one, with a high-angled feed tray to its automatic document feeder (ADF), a jutting control panel and an obtrusive paper tray sticking out the front, but HP has tried to relieve the lines with some generous curves.
The ADF can take up to 50 sheets and lifts to reveal a full A4 flatbed for single-sheet scanning. The single paper tray – there’s no separate photo tray as there is on many of HP’s Photosmart all-in-ones – can take up to 250 sheets and is easy to fill, once you’ve removed the cover, which also acts as the output tray, in typical HP fashion. A second 250-sheet tray, fitting underneath the machine, is available as an option.
At the right-hand end of the front panel is a group of four memory card slots, covering all the current types, and a USB socket for PictBridge devices. There's another USB port at the back, but no Ethernet. This is slightly strange, as the machine does include Wi-Fi networking, which can be set up easily from the machine’s 88mm touchscreen. That’s ‘easily’ once you’re used to the fairly insensitive touchscreen, which produced a number of miss-hits during testing.
There's but a single input tray for plain and photo paper
Perhaps HP realises its touchscreen isn’t as tactile as it should be. There are a lot of physical buttons on the control panel, too, for fax dialing – a 33.6Kb/s fax modem is built in – scanning and copying.
Linux, duplexers and all that
In our office, we have an HP OfficeJet Pro L7780. This is functionally very similar to the 8500 model (although it has the optional hi-capacity extra tray too). I liked it so much I got a L7680 for home, too.
To answer the comments about Linux: HP may not provide Linux drivers, but Linux provides OfficeJet drivers. The OfficeJet Pro L7780 and L7680 work very well indeed under Ubuntu. In fact, the latest Ubuntu (9.04) automatically detects the printer, works out how to connect to it and installs the necessary drivers using UK defaults (for us in the UK, anyway). I imagine that the experience for the 8500 will be similar, although you might need to persuade it the printer's an L7680 if it hasn't heard of the 8500 yet. Doubtless the proper printer description files will be along very shortly if that's the case.
I agree about the duplexer. It does look an afterthought, yet the duplexer unit has been a standard fit on most OJPro printers since forever. However, the simple removal (press in a button at either side) makes for a very easy fix on the rare occasions the duplexer gets a paper jam. It does increase the printer's footprint, though, adding 6cm to the depth at minimum, or 14cm if you want to open the back flap for maintenance. These aren't printers you can put on a shallow printer trolley!
It sounds overall like the 8500 is a small step-change onwards from the excellent L7680/L7780 units. If that's so, I can heartily recommend them. Do keep a spare set of ink tanks somewhere. You have to change them so rarely that it's easy to forget to keep stock!
(Declaration of interests: none, just a very happy customer.)
@Christian Berger, and some tips
My experience of other OJ Pros in the series is that they, also, just work. And keep working, too, through boxes and boxes of paper.
A word to the wise, by the way. HP offers two installation options for its suite of printer drivers and related gubbins. You can do a full installation, or the basic installation (what they describe as drivers only). I have found the full installation to be a royal pain, and often highly incompatible with laptops that are being taken in and out of sleep mode often. Just use the basic install, and forget the extra cruft! You won't regret it, or miss the extra rubbish.
HP head-and-shoulders best for Linux
HP is by far the most LInux-friendly of Inkjet and MFC manufacturers. HPLIP is a fully open-source project, being run with HP's blessing and support. It supports most features of all but the really cheap "throw-away" HP printers. It's bundled with most distros (and the source code is pretty easy to build as well).
Note that because HPLIP is open-source, you *can* trust that you won't be prevented from upgrading your OS for lack of a (closed source, binary) printer driver. Even if HP was acquired by Microsoft tomorrow, all the know-how to make Linux play with an HP 8500 and all the other current HPLIP-supported models is already out there and GPLed, so someone could and would pick up the reins should HP drop them.
I bought a Epson SX405 Ink printer and as I did not find a working driver for Linux I asked Epson for help.
The reply was that Epson does not support Linux at all.
Some digging and now it works alright.
I stopped using HP years ago as the ink business was too obvious.
I hope they are finally getting a bit smarter. All customers are not complete idiots.
I still doubt them (HP), however.
Would be a killer
It it could do Postscript or PCL, have an actual fax-modem inside, and would do A3.
The point is, laser printers have now developed to a stage where they just work. You just install the driver for a HP LaserJet 4 on your computer and print to the printer. It'll simply work, a feature inkjet printers are struggling to provide.