HP Officejet 6500A Plus Printer Packs a Potent Pro Punch [Review]



In all the hubbub with HP killing the TouchPad and spinning off its PC division, one might forget that HP still has a strong connection with Apple: They’re the only printer manufacturer with printers that fully integrate prinitng from iOS, thanks to HP’s inclusion of AirPrint on many of its printers.

The HP Officejet 6500A Plus ($200), with its all-in-one features, automatic document feeder, wifi connectivity and removable duplexer for double-sided printing, is already an attractively spec’d printer. Toss in AirPrint capability and you’ve got a strong contender to fill any iDevice-toting home/small office manager’s priniting needs.

The Good:

Installation was dead simple. I nixed the installation disk and installed directly using the Print & Fax pane on the System Preferences app; the 6500A then performed an automatic over-the-air firmware update and everything was good to go. All three categories of devices — my MBP, iPad and iPhone — were able to locate and print to the 6500A quickly and without any trouble.

All of its functions (with the exception of its fax capabilities, which we didn’t test) seem straightforward and easy to use. In fact, it’s probably the most painless printer I’ve ever used. Printing and copying worked flawlessly, scanning with the LED-equipped (so no warmup time) scanner was easy whether initiated from the printer or my MBP — in the latter case, thanks in part to an uncluttred, easy-to-use HP interface.

It’s pretty heavy, and it’s not small; but at 18 x 10 inches, it doesn’t have the behemoth footprint of many other powerful all-in-ones, and the added office features like the duplexer and ADR seem more compact on the 6500A than on other printers in this class.

Black and white print quality at the highest setting is good. Draft quality printing is very good, with little discernible difference between the two. Both rendered sharp lettering even at tiny point sizes, with draft quality slightly fuzzier. Similarly, color printing looked great on inkjet paper, with crisp, bright colors. Printing photos was another story (see below).

This guy’s fast. I clocked draft black-and-white printing at about 22 ppm — that figure’s slower than HP’s claimed redline of 33 ppm, but it’s still comparatively quick. Full color, pages dense with color images at the best quality printed at about 42 seconds per page, with 4×6 photos printing in about a minute — on the fast side.

Ergonomics are solid. Like many other HP printers, the 6500A’s touchscreen display is small but responsive and easy to navigate. The access panel sports a clean design, with the backlit buttons hidden when not in use. nothing seems confusing, everything is where it should be. The output tray, which needs to be lifted in order to add paper to the 250-sheet paper tray, flips up and stays put with a gentle click for access.

It’s thick with features. The 25-sheet automatic document feeder s a big plus, as is the duplexer. The printer also comes with a preset selection of web apps that allow you to print forms, newspapers (for instance, fully formatted pages from USA Today) or other pre-formatted pages from HP’s ePrintCenter.

AirPrint is one of the strongest reasons for someone with an iPhone or iPad to pick an HP printer. Yes, other printer manufacturers have solutions that’ll let you print from your iDevice (Epson’s PrintJinni, for instance) — but nothing is as smooth or as deeply integrated as HP’s AirPrint. I just wish there were more options when iDevice printing, like being able to select quality; but that’s another discussion.

It looks good. It’s either a sleek, glossy black butler of a printer dressed in a tux, or a simulacrum of Darth Vader’s helmet in printer form, depending on your geek creds; either way, it fits perfectly in a professional setting.


The Bad:

This isn’t the best choice for printing photos. To be fair, HP doesn’t market this printer as a photo printer — that’s what their Photosmart line is for — and it shows. Photos, especially those with higher contrast, tend to come out looking over-saturated and muddied, and color gradients aren’t as smooth as they should be. The results are more than adequate if you’re only printing occasionally though, or if you’re not too picky.

No USB stick port? What’s the deal? There’s an SD card slot, and even one for Sony Memory Sticks — but I had to hunt around for a point-n-shoot camera and pillage its SD card in order to save a scanned document when I couldn’t save to my MBP because it was otherwise engaged. C’mon, HP.

The printer shakes with an almost animalistic frenzy when printing at high speed — markedly so than any other printer I’ve used; not a big deal, really, as long as it’s not on a rickety table.



A solid, seamless, highly user-friendly workhorse of a printer with the added capability of AirPrint; and while it isn’t an outstanding bargain, it stands squarely in good bang-for-buck territory nonetheless.


[xrr rating=80%]

  • miquonranger03

    Try the 8500A instead. It’s very similar but it adds the USB port, plus it prints faster and with far cheaper cost per page.

  • prof_peabody

    I was thinking based on your description that it would get a two out of five, but then you give it a four?  Very strange.  

    I haven’t printed more than a page or two (at home), in the last year or so anyway. Especially since I got the iPad.  I just print to PDF and store it on the hard drive somewhere if I need to keep it.  Sync it to the iPad if I need to read it. 

  • youngjm

    I have this printer and it is very nice.  Most places sell it for $149.  Costco has it on sale right now with a $50 rebate making this printer $100.  I also use HP’s XL cartridges.

  • elimilchman

    Not sure how you got the impression we’d give it a two-star rating; we reserve those for truly ‘orrible gadgets. Most of my review was full of kudos, not criticisms.

  • kriswm

    are we really talking about new stuff from hp after what just happened? it’s like a parent selling two of their children for favorite of the third. and no one knows why they like the third cause the first two were so much cuter and smarter. but there’s no changing their mind. we’re left to stare at this ugly duckling…a printer.

  • Cold_dead_fingers

    I like my Envy100 printer.

  • Craig Marker

    Canon MX-870 ROCKS!

  • Joel Angert

    I bought this printer, when we opened the box there were several missing parts. Got it replaced, again missing the power cord. 3rd time, scanner was broken. It seems like there was terrible quality control going on at the HP factory!

  • Timothy Gilfilen

    You know what kind of laser printer is used all around the world with the US Military? HP, it is all over the place, 10’s probably 100’s of thousands with the govt. That is their successful market probably selling and maintaining more corporate printing services and printers than your pretty Tablet. 

  • Timothy Gilfilen

    I always read the con’s, it is my decision factor. 

  • Jay Max

    I’ve learned my lesson the hard way when it comes to HP products.  I purchased an Air Print printer from HP last Christmas, with some xmas funds to replace a Canon printer.  I got the HP printer for the Air Print feature, as the Canon did still work well enough.  Like the author, the set up was smooth & easy, with my iPad recognizing the printer immediately.  

    A week or two later though, when turning on the printer it wouldn’t be recognized on my network.  After fooling with it for 5 minutes it was back.  This process would repeat every time I turned on the printer to use it, with the time for it be recognized getting longer & longer.  Eventually within a month, the printer wouldn’t be seen at all. 

    Going to HP’s website to look for solutions, I ended up finding a 41 page thread about the printer and it not connecting.  Problem never solved, no solutions, and new customers showing up to ask what was up with the printer.  Frustrated I just bagged the printer, chalked it up to lesson learned and went back to my old Canon printer. It’s limited wireless capability works perfectly.

    I think it’s a good move that HP is getting out of the hardware business.  With an earlier PC I had that had a build quality that would have made E Machines embarrassed, it seems HP’s hardware end has steadily gone into the crapper.

  • aquraishi

    The cost of inkjet consumables are ridiculous (also very profitable for HP). After owning a number of inkjets I switched to colour laser a few years back, once their cost came down, and will now never go back. The ink is still expensive but far less so.

  • Laptops Cheap

    very nice sharp looking printer. now if they can create cost effective ink refills

  • sigisigi

    What laser do you have? Because 6500A printcosts are like 0.02 euros per text page. and hi-end 8500A is half of that. No laser under 1000 euros can do pages on that pricerange..

  • sigisigi

    Yeah. I have 8500A Plus myself. Awesome printer. Quick as hell and cheap to use. (30 euros per 2200 pages of text..)

    3-year warranty, ePrint and AirPrint are all nice additions :)

  • Behaviorguy

    I bought this printer recently just to be able to scan multi-page documents. The HP scan interface is SO much easier to use than image capture with my previous HP printer. The two-sided printing is a great feature too. Good home office printer, does what it says, and iOS printing as well!

  • Cartridge Shop

    Very interesting to see that after how we have developed over recent years, that this modern day monster of a printer does not have a USB port! Very strange.