When you think of a printer, Hewlett Packard or HP is definitely one of the first names to strike your mind. HP has come a long way in catering to all our printing needs in terms of both inkjet and laser printers. This time, HP has offered its small and medium business sectors an all-in-one, the Officejet Pro 8600 Plus. This printer has loads of features under the hood; let’s take a quick look at what this model has to offer.
The HP Officejet Pro 8600 Plus is an e-all-in-one multifunction printing unit offering print, scan, fax, copy and web services for small to medium-sized business environments. The printer is slightly oversized compared to others in the category, but it makes up for that with its unique design and looks. The printer has a very rugged shell and unlike HP’s other printers and MFDs, the paper trays are not flimsy on this model. The shell of the 8600 Plus has a matte-finished, bronze coloured exterior with no glossy sections that may get tarnished with time. The MFD features an inkjet printer that can print at resolutions of 1200 x 600 dpi in black and up to 4800 x 1200 optimized dpi in colour. The printer has a duty cycle of 25,000 pages per month with a recommended print volume of 1,250 pages per month.
Slightly bulky, but feature-rich
The printer uses four ink cartridges (CMYK) that reside on a detachable and replaceable print head. The ink cartridges - unlike in other printers in the family - are extremely easy to install and replace as it employs a push-in-push-out mechanism which snaps the cartridges in place; you don’t need struggle with the cartridges to replace them anymore. Another unique and handy feature included by the designers at HP is an illuminated bay inside the printer. Just like in a refrigerator, when the door that leads to the common cartridge and paper jam compartment is opened, an LED mounted on its roof illuminates the entire interior.
Moving on, the printer has a 250-sheet input tray and a 150-sheet output tray. There is no manual feed tray here, which may make things inconvenient for those who print on irregular stationary. An optional 250-sheet tray can be purchased and attached to the bottom of the printer for those who need to print frequently on stationary such as letter heads, envelopes and other media types. The printer also includes a duplex mechanism for automatic paper reversal; this enables it to print on both sides of the page with a single command.
Memory cards have their own space and drives too
The 8600 Plus includes a scanner that also features an ADF. It has an optical resolution of up to 4800 dpi. The scanner lid is surprisingly badly-designed: the lid, being heavier because of the SDF mechanism, does not close back slowly but crashes down on the scanner glass. This not only risks the scanner glass from cracking, but it can cause the ADF to malfunction if not handled carefully. Another downside on the design part are the scanner lid hinges which seem very feeble. If you tend to open the tray at a wide angle, or accidentally apply too much pressure on the lid towards the back, you can permanently damage the hinges. I think HP needs to consider designing a softer mechanism or a hydraulic lever to soften the fall of the heavy lid.
The 8600 Plus features a color fax that can transmit a page in around four seconds. It can store up to 100 pages in its memory when the paper runs. It has a 99 number speed dial memory storage as well as a Caller ID feature. The copier section can scan and print up to a maximum of 99 copies with a single command. The maximum resolution of the copier mode is 1200 x 600 dpi in both black and color.
The 8600 Plus can be connected to a PC via the USB port or to a network using the 10/100Base-TX Ethernet port or via the built-in wireless HP Jetdirect ew2400 802.11 b/g interfaces. You can optionally scan to or print from the USB host port or the memory card slots located on the front panel of the MFD. The control panel comprises of a large 4.3-inch colour resistive touchscreen that features all the settings and controls needed to operate the MFD. The control panel is a swivel type which can be moved and locked at an upright angle, making it convenient to operate when the user is seated or standing. The control panel has a very sensitive display and makes operating or setting up the printer speedy and easy. The user interface is smooth and very intuitive too. It also features shortcut icons on the top of the screen which offer quick access to wireless networking, fax, eco mode, ink levels and the web services.
Easy to view display
Speaking of web services, the 8600 Plus, once connected to an internet-enabled network, can open up a world of options required for small business developments. The web services can print your documents from anywhere on the globe using an e-mail address which needs to be registered once the printer is set up. You can also print from devices which have wireless network connectivity — simply link them to the printer, and print. The web services can also be used to access apps which can print forms, calendars, books, news, and much more directly from the internet without the need for a PC.
We put the printer through some standard tests and here is what we have to say about the performance: documents printed in black gave us print speeds of 24 ppm, 19 ppm and five ppm in draft, normal and best modes. A combination of colour and black documents (presentation type documents) prints at speeds of 21 ppm, 10 ppm and three ppm, respectively. Since the printer also features a duplex mechanism, we printed a 10-page word document in normal mode, which finalised in barely 1 minute and 15 seconds. Scanning an A4 photo in 300 dpi modes takes 27 seconds, while copying a black and colour A4 document takes around 14 seconds each. Borderless printing on a 4x6 photo paper takes just 50 seconds. The printer takes about 35 seconds to power up, and a first print from the PC can take you just 14 seconds.
The print quality of black prints is very crisp and almost laser-like. The color documents were also great. Though we thought the prints in draft modes would give us faint and/or grainy output, the results were quite the opposite — the prints were very clear and crisp, even in eco mode. We found absolutely no flaws or issues with the speed and quality of regular documents. Surprisingly, the photo printing quality of the 8600 Plus disappointed us—the maximum print resolution was 600x600 dpi. The print quality was average and pretty grainy when observed closely. However, the colors were brilliant and images were sharp too. If you hold the photo at some distance though, you won’t be able to see the flaws, which is a pass. However, since the 8600 Plus is aimed to be an office all-in-one, we did not quite expect the printer to give us staggering photo results.
The printer uses CMYK starter cartridges that come with the product. XL packs can be availed of and cost Rs.2,139 for black and Rs.4,695 for a set of colour ones. The black cartridge can yield 2,300 pages and the colour cartridges can together yield 1,500 pages. This evaluates the print economy to Rs.0.93 per black print and Rs.3.13 per color print.
With a price tag of Rs. 20,999 and featuring laser-like print quality, speedy document printing with duplex capabilities, web options, wireless connectivity and a built-in fax, we would definitely recommend one of these units in a medium-sized business environment. However, if you are also looking for good quality photo printing features, we suggest you look into other models.
Updated 23 May, 2013, 8:22 am IST
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