In addition to AirPrint, the Officejet Pro 8500A features HP's ePrint technology, which enables you to send jobs from any connected device to the printer using a uniquely assigned e-mail address. You can find this address using the control panel (Wireless > Web Services > Display Email). It's a convenient feature, to be sure, but it comes with a few restrictions. For one, the printer must be on and also connected to your network. Also, it can't print Web pages, although you can simply copy and paste the text into a document as a workaround.
Along with the standard Copy, Fax, and Scan options listed on the home screen of the Officejet Pro's control panel, you get a fourth icon labeled Apps. Our test unit came preloaded with 21 apps that let you print new pages from outlets like the Financial Times, Yahoo, Reuters, and USA Today. Others from DreamWorks, Nickelodeon, and Disney let you print coloring pages, paper airplane templates, and other craft materials. You can install additional free apps, but you must do so from HP's ePrint Center Web site after creating an account.
The standard flat-bed scanner/copier measures 8.5x14 inches, meaning it can scan or copy letter- and legal-size documents. With its 4,800-dpi resolution, scanned and copied documents look crisp and sharp, and you can send scans to a PC, a memory card, a network folder, or an e-mail program. Another downgrade from the Pro model, however, is that the base version can't flip over double-sided originals since the ADF is incapable of duplexing. Granted this is a minor irritation unless your business requires large-volume scanning.
The Officejet Pro 8600 dropped away from its linemates in the output speed tests, most noticeably in the color graphics test where it printed more than a full page per minute slower than the Pro model. Despite the improved engine, the Epson WorkForce 840 was still able to beat both HP printers in the presentation and plain black-text speed tests, albeit only marginally. I'm still impressed with the overall speed results of the Officejet Pro 8600 and the drop is small enough that you won't notice the comparison unless the job is over 20 pages.
(Longer bars indicate better performance)
|Black text||Color graphics||Photo||Presentation|
You could easily mistake the excellent print quality of the HP Officejet Pro 8600 for output from a laser printer. With solid lines in both color and black and white, and especially darkened grayscale prints, the documents are of high-enough quality that I wouldn't hesitate to hand them out at a client meeting. The 8600 and the WorkForce 840 both exhibit impressively crisp photo output quality with bright, vivid colors and minimum blurring even in finer text sizes.
Service and support
HP backs the Officejet Pro 8600 with a standard one-year warranty that includes 24-7 toll-free phone support and live Webchat during weekdays. HP's Web site also contains downloadable drivers, software, and manuals; e-mail tech support; FAQs; and a troubleshooting guide. You can return the product within 21 days of delivery.
HP succeeds again in building a classy, fast, reliable all-in-one imaging device for the business market, but I wouldn't limit my recommendation to office denizens. With its spread of convenient connectivity features and cloud printing that includes ePrint and AirPrint compatibility, the affordable Officejet Pro 8600 will earn its place as a solid performer in any environment that demands high-quality document and image prints.
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