Setting up the Officejet 6500A Plus was a breeze. The four individual ink cartridges are easy to install and you can connect via USB 2.0, Wi-Fi, or wired ethernet. We ran into an issue where, when connected over USB, the printer would stop responding after a Mac restart. Interestingly, if we used the drivers downloaded through Apple Software Update instead of the drivers on the included CD, the issue went away. HP is looking into it.
The Officejet 6500A Plus has a small but helpful, 2.4-inch LCD touchscreen that aids in selecting number of copies, faxing options, and setup of the printer’s ePrint features. HP’s ePrint lets you download and use printing apps. Apps range from kids coloring pages to scanning documents directly to your Google account. ePrint also allows you to print remotely, using the e-mail address that HP assigns your printer. And though I experienced spotty service when testing the ePrint service on the recently reviewed Photosmart C310A ( ), the service was much more reliable this time.
Also, if you have an iOS 4 device (iPad, iPhone, or iPod touch) on the same Wi-Fi network as the Officejet 6500A, you can use AirPrint to print documents and photos from your iOS device.
In our speed testing, we found the Officejet 6500A to be an average performer on the Mac, with text speed of 6 pages per minute, 1.5 pages per minute in our PDF test, and 0.4 pages per minute in our photo test prints.
Our print quality tests showed that for a business printer, text was only of fair quality, with surprisingly fuzzy edges. Our PDF graphics pages showed good color quality, but again we found soft edges. Photos had a ruddy cast and colors were a bit oversaturated. Photos also lacked the depth and shadow detail found in prints from HP’s Photosmart printers, which feature extra inks formulated to enhance photographic images.
Our test scans were of good quality, with slight banding in our line-art test page and dull, flat looking colors in our photo scans.
The inks are reasonably priced below the average in both the standard and high-yield sizes. The printer ships with a special “setup” version of the standard size, which comes with a little extra ink to account for what’s used during printer initialization. The standard sizes include a $20, 420-page black (4.8 cents) and $10, 300-page cyan, magenta, and yellow (3.3 cents per color, per page). The high-yield sizes are impressively cheap: a $32, 1200-page black and $15, 700-page cyan, magenta, and yellow (2.1 cents per color, per page). A four-color page would cost 14.1 cents with the standard-sized inks and 9.1 cents with the high-yield inks.
Macworld’s buying advice
If you’re looking for an inkjet all-in-one that supports Apple’s AirPrint and HP’s ePrint services, the HP Officejet 6500A is worth a look, if only because such printers are so few and far between. The 6500A was an average performer in both print speed and quality, with noticeably fuzzy edges in its text printing.
[James Galbraith is Macworld’s lab director.]