At the beginning of last year I was in the market for a multifunction printer (preferably inkjet) to serve the purpose of scanning research and printing quick document proofs. The 7 year old Epson “Ink Scam” CX3500 I only used for scanning was starting to look ugly in my new office. After the CX3500 I had sworn from buying cheap 3 in 1 (print, copy, scan) multifunction’s. But here I found myself in the market for a multifunction, something to fill the gap in between a Canon photo printer and a high resolution standalone scanner I planned on getting.
I looked at what my local Makro store had available. Canon (my favourite brand) had a few multifunctions available but the ink was expensive (I tend to buy genuine ink if the printer is still in warranty). I had a look at the (higher end) HP Officejet Pro 8600 but at R3000 (about $300) it was out of budget – I didn’t want to spend more than R1500 (about $150). I then looked at the HP Officejet 6500A, my first question to the salesman: Does it come with a full set of cartridges? Yes it comes with an “Intro” set as well as a “XL” set.
The genuine ink (available in both standard and XL), was reasonable priced (by manufacturer inkjet ink standards). I also saw an ink supplier on a local auction site I bought from before, selling genuine cartridges for this machine at good prices. I didn’t have much time but ran a quick internet search on the model. CNET had a few commenters’ that were complaining, Amazon a few average and unhappy reviews. Some of the comments were about malfunctioning which didn’t really bother me as I would simply return it (the scanner later malfunctioned, when just out of warranty).
Make no mistake the HP Officejet 6500A is a poor quality printer but a highly efficient ink guzzler. Here is why:
1. In both CorelDRAW & Inkscape I am unable to print in draft format which is a poorer quality print that uses less ink. When I try to, the image is blown way up. The only option is to print in “Normal” or “Best”.
But when I print in Microsoft Word even via PDF the “Draft” format works perfectly; in other words applications that use graphics intensive output (which uses more ink) can only print on the “normal” option. Whereas application that use a less ink intensive output can print in draft. This could of course be a bug in the software and not HP’s fault but it’s a very convenient bug.
2. Not long after I purchased it I tried to print (in normal mode) and noticed colour loss and banding, now I had used the machine fairly regularly until then and thought maybe the ink had run out as I had used intro cartridges even though I had printed much less than their stated capacity. I had to do a internet search to find out how to access the ink levels (see reason 3 / next paragraph) . They were OK. I then ran a “Print Quality Diagnostic Report” (which uses more ink) which showed me that both Cyan and Magenta are not showing up (missing). I then ran a printhead clean which uses even more ink. After that it worked.
3. The printer properties suck! Compared to much older Canon printers; is HP for real with their shitty menus and letting you jump through hoops to see the ink levels?
4. Print quality is very poor even on “Best” option; maybe I’m just used to using a photo printer and am overcritical and expecting too much. But real poor quality.
5. The scanner did what I expect from it, but lasted just past the year warranty period before it gave in. I almost remember the salesman telling me when I purchased it that if I register online I will be eligible for a two year warranty, but when I check online (after a year and a few months) it says the warranty has expired.
I can work with the less than stellar print quality but the low ink cost was the main reason I bought this printer. And it just feels like it is doing as much as possible to use more ink than necessary. HP is advertising their “Ink Advantage” like crazy. I really thought the embattled tech giant had a (working) fair ink system on their hands to try and differentiate themselves from fellow competitors.
I once had a couple that publishes a community ads flyer buy a paper folding machine from me, they said they use ten HP 8600’s for their printing, but prior to that they used a few Officejet 6500A’s but “threw it all away”. I believe them.