- Bottom line:
The HP Officejet Pro 8500A Plus e-All-in-One is a solid choice as a small-office MFP, with a good feature set, speed, and paper capacity.
Good business printing speed. A wealth of MFP and ePrint features. Good paper capacity. Multiple connectivity options. Able to print from external devices.
Unexceptional output quality, with photos a bit below par. Touch pad could be more responsive.
With both Pro and Plus in its name, you'd expect the HP Officejet Pro 8500A Plus e-All-in-One ($399 direct) to bring a lot to the table. Indeed, it has a very good feature set for a small-office multifunction printer (MFP), including ePrint and Web App functionality, a variety of ports and connection options, and decent speed for printing business documents. We wish its output quality was a bit better, but it's still a very good choice as a small-office MFP.
The 8500A Plus prints, scans, copies, and faxes. It can scan to a PC, memory card, network folder, or e-mail. It can act as a standalone printer, printing photos from memory cards, USB keys, and PictBridge cameras as well as content from the Web using HP's Web Apps. It has a 35-page automatic document feeder (ADF) for scanning or copying multi-page documents.
At 12.1 by 19.4 by 18.6 inches (HWD) and weighing 28 pounds, the 8500A Plus is large enough that you wouldn't want to share a desk with it. The 8500A is black—matte and glossy in turn—and its feeder and output trays have a ridged texture. The front panel holds a 4.3-inch touch screen which, though eye-catching, wasn't very responsive. Particularly with the smaller buttons, I often had to press two or more times to get a command to work—a frustrating (if minor) flaw.
The 8500A can print and scan at up to legal size. It has ample paper capacity for most small offices, with a 250-sheet input tray, and an automatic duplexer lets you print on both sides of a sheet of paper. If you need more paper capacity, another model in its series, the HP Officejet Pro 8500A Premium e-All-in-One ($499 direct) adds a second 250-sheet paper tray. The HP Officejet Pro 8500A e-All-in-One ($299 direct) has a smaller (2.3-inch) touch screen.
The 8500A Plus can print selected content directly from the Web as a standalone device, using HP's Web apps. You can output business forms, topical or custom daily newsletters, coupons, recipes, even coloring book pages with Disney and Nickelodeon characters, and much more. Additional free apps are available for download from HP's ePrintCenter.
The ePrint function lets you e-mail an attached image to the printer for it to automatically print out. The printer is assigned an e-mail address when you register at the ePrintCenter. From a single e-mail it can print out up to 10 attached files with a total size of up to 5MB, printing out first the cover e-mail and then the attachments.
The 8500A is also now compatible with the AirPrint feature in Apple's iOS 4.2, which allows you to print from an iPhone, iPod touch, or iPad that's connected to the same network as the printer.
It has a port for either a USB thumb drive or PictBridge-enabled camera. Its two memory-card slots fit a variety of card formats. The 8500A Plus can connect via USB, Ethernet, or Wi-Fi. We tested it over an Ethernet connection to a PC running Windows Vista.
Speed and Quality
The 8500A Plus printed out our latest business applications suite (as timed with QualityLogic's hardware and software) at an effective 4.5 pages per minute (ppm) (printing both text and graphical content)—a respectable speed. It slightly lagged both its predecessor, the now discontinued Editors' Choice HP Officejet Pro 8500 Wireless All-in-One ($399, 4 stars) (4.8 ppm), and the Epson Artisan 835's ($299, 4 stars) 5.2 ppm, but it bested the Lexmark Platinum Pro905 ($399, 3.5 stars) (3.2 ppm). It averaged a decent 1 minute 17 seconds in printing out 4-by-6 photos.
Graphics quality was on par with the majority of inkjets we've tested, which makes its output fine for most internal business uses as well as PowerPoint handouts. The one problem worth mention is that several images showed banding—regularly spaced lines of discoloration in otherwise solid zones. This was particularly distracting in a graphic that contains very thin, white lines, for the banding had a similar appearance.
Text quality was typical of today's inkjets, good enough for general business documents but not for documents such as resumes in which the presentation is as important as the content.
Photo quality was a touch below par. A monochrome photo showed a slight greenish tint. Most photos showed some degree of dithering, the breakup of solid areas into textures or fine dot patterns. At arm's length, most of the prints could pass for drugstore quality. It's more than adequate, though, for basic business uses like printing out Web pages.
The 8500A Plus is a good MFP to anchor a small office, with ample paper capacity, a wide range of features, connectivity options, and input ports, and respectable business-printing speed. Its output quality was mediocre, but still good enough for most uses a typical office would put it to.
BENCHMARK TEST RESULTS
Check out the test scores for the HP Officejet Pro 8500A Plus e-All-in-One.