The Officejet 8600 Plus is the high-end model in HP's latest inkjet printer series. It is a multi-function printer for small businesses, with Wi-Fi compatibility and a wide array of functions that can be activated directly on the touchscreen, with no need for a computer. HP is advertising its new range as an all-in-one with web connectivity, high print quality, increased productivity and up to half the cost per page as a laser printer. How many of these criteria does the 6800 Plus meet?
DESIGN & BUILD
HP really worked on the design of its new series. The rounded edges and minimalist treatment give it a sober look with broad appeal. As all-in-ones go, it is extremely compact (49 x 46 x 31 cm) and light (12 kg). Its functions include copying, scanning, faxing and—let's not forget—printing. The 128 MB of standard memory allow for convenient sharing within a team of thirty employees. It performs double-sided printing and copying. The input tray can hold 250 sheets, and a second, optional tray can be inserted for extra capacity.
The online functions are a real added value, and as with the HP Photosmart 7510, they are many and varied. And like the previous generation, the 8600 Plus has its own e-mail address and can receive print instructions from mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets. The memory card readers on the bottom-left are Memory Stick Duo- and microSD-compatible. The 8600 Plus supports HP PCL3/GUI and all operating systems (Mac, Windows, Linux).
Front panel and trayUser-friendliness is one of the 8600 Plus' strong points. It is so intuitive that truly anyone could use it. Each of the functions executes flawlessly, and you can play tutorials with video clips on the touchscreen if you need help. The Wi-Fi connection is fast and simple to set up.
The HP ePrintCenter functions as a free app store where users can import features they need onto their printer. There are apps for printing from online photo-sharing accounts (Snapfish, Picasa, Facebook), news, printable colouring books, cooking recipes, games, Mappy maps, various forms... Not to mention an entire range of business apps.
A small selection of ePrintCenter apps A paper peacock made with the origami app
The 8600 Plus can print a variety of standard photo formats, such as passport photos...
...or wallet-sized photos.
The Officejet Pro 8600 Plus has one of the fastest print speeds for text documents among inkjet printers. They are much faster than the high-end HP Photosmart 7510, which prints 15 pages per minute (ppm) in colour and 16 ppm in B&W, and the Epson Stylus SX440W, which prints 4 ppm in colour and 6 ppm in B&W. The Lexmark Pro915, another high-end business printer, is also slower than the 8600 Plus, with 10 ppm in colour and 15 ppm in B&W. However, double-sided printing naturally takes longer—around 7 ppm in colour and B&W.
The photo print speeds are similar to the HP Photosmart 7510, but three times faster than the Epson Stylus SX440W.
For this printer HP has introduced two new pigment-based inks, HP 932 and 933. They are designed to resist against discolouration, water spills and highlighter-induced smudges, thanks to Thermal Ink technology, a technique that heats the ink as it leaves the printhead, making it hold better onto the paper. We tested its resistance to water and highlighters, and: no bleeding.
The letters on our graph show up clean, distinct, well-hewn. The 8600 Plus gets an A+ for legibility. However, in solidly coloured areas the ink droplets are slightly visible and the nuance of tones in areas of shading is not perfect. The blues appeared flashy to us, and our sensor confirmed this with particularly high colour differences in that end of the spectrum.
Average delta E 94 (colour difference): 9.5.
The higher the bar, the less accurate the colour.
The average for printers we've reviewed is 7.
The print quality for photos is perfectly adequate. Lines come out well-defined and the colours are accurate, although there's a slight tendency towards blue and green. The photo below has been enlarged three times and you can make out the ink droplets—but only if you're looking.
Compare photos in the Photo Face-Off
Average delta E 94 (colour difference): 6.2
SCAN & COPY
Documents can be scanned double-sided and sent directly to a computer, external storage device, folder in a local network or e-mail address, in JPEG or PDF format.
Copy mode is just as rich in functionality as the others. In the Settings you can find tools for copy correction, ID card formats, quality settings and resizing. Each of these tools is well thought-out and easy to use.
Black and white copies take 14 seconds per page and colour copies take 16 seconds. These are relatively fast speeds.
The copies are of much higher quality than most printers. However, the 8600 Plus is no exception to the rule with all-in-one copiers, in that copy mode works great for text, but much less so when it comes to images.
Average delta E 94 (colour difference): 4.7
POWER USE & NOISE
The HP Officejet Pro 8600 Plus consumes 2 watts in sleep mode and 33 W during use, which is higher than many other printers (1 W in sleep mode and around 19 W during use).
As for noise level, this all-in-one just makes it into the "silent" category with 50 dB(A). Above 50 dB(A), printers are considered "noisy".
COST PER PAGE
Five pence with XL cartridges: that's an excellent cost per page—better than most. The 8600 Plus gets beaten by the record-holder, the Epson WorkForce Pro WP-4525DNF, with 3.5 pence per page, but remains far lower than the Canon Pixma MG5350 (9.1 pence, five cartridges, no XL support), HP Photosmart 7510 (10 pence) and Lexmark Pro715 (11.3 pence with XL cartridges).
These calculations are made based on the lowest available prices for high capacity cartridges (including shipping and handling). The cartridge lifespans are one hundred pages longer than on previous models.