The AU$499 HP Officejet Pro 8600 Plus e-All-in-One printer is an updated version of the Pro 8500A Plus. The flagship of HP's work-centric inkjet line has had a performance makeover from the inside out, with improvements to the speed of the print engine and the texture of the 4.3-inch touchscreen display, and a sleeker chassis that hides fingerprints better than the previous version.
The device also takes printing to the cloud with ePrint and an accompanying iOS application that make the Officejet Pro 8600A Plus an impressively resourceful printer. We recommend it for home offices and professional environments that need a dependable workhorse printer.
Design and features
The Officejet Pro 8600 Plus printer strips away the glossy veneer of the past, and replaces it with a modern matte paint job that does its best to hide dust and fingerprints. It has a professional look that should easily fit in with any office or home decor, although, at 315mm tall, 494mm wide and 460mm deep, you'll need to clear a sizeable amount of space to fit its large chassis. The printer's sides feature two indented handles that make it easier to carry around, although you won't want to move it on a daily basis.
A single 250-sheet input tray protrudes about 100mm out of the front of the 8600 Plus, and a 50-page automatic document feeder (ADF) resides on top. You won't find a manual feed tray in the centre console like you would on a laser printer, which might be irritating if you print on irregular media like heavy card stock or non-standard envelopes.
The HP's ample 4.3-inch touch-sensitive colour display makes navigating the print, copy, scan and fax functions a breeze. The screen is the same size as the Officejet Pro 8500A Plus' screen, and the competing Epson WorkForce 840, but the WorkForce 840 surrounds its colour LCD with a larger 7.8-inch touch panel that provides additional navigation buttons. The HP's entire touch panel, on the other hand, resembles an iPhone on its side, and measures 6 inches on the diagonal.
In the end, the printer does an admirable job of providing a simple and clear menu system for navigating its many functions. However, HP makes it easier than Epson to enter text, thanks to a full QWERTY virtual keyboard; entering data such as a wireless password on the Epson requires scrolling through the alphabet for each letter, and is akin to entering your initials for a high score in an old arcade game. This version of the display also has less mushy play between the outward-facing screen and the hard registration pad below it, so you're less likely to mistakenly press a button. The screen still isn't perfect — for some of the onscreen features, we needed to repeatedly push the corresponding virtual icon until the action finally registered. With no way to recalibrate the screen in the settings page, you're in for a frustrating experience until the printer gets it right.
In addition to using a direct USB connection (like most vendors, HP does not include a USB cable with the printer), you can set up the Officejet Pro 8700 Plus on your network via Ethernet or Wi-Fi. We tested the Wi-Fi connection, and the process was easy; using the printer's touchscreen, we navigated through a few set-up screens to find our network, quickly entered its password using the virtual QWERTY keyboard and established a connection within a minute. Macs and PCs alike on our network were able to see the printer without the need to install any additional software.
Once you connect the printer to a wireless network, you can use HP's AirPrint feature to print from any iOS device without an additional application. Using AirPrint, you can print out a photo from your iPhoto library simply by choosing the connected printer and hitting Print. You can't adjust any print properties, however; our Hipstamatic test photo printed with a portion missing on both letter-sized paper and 4x6-inch photo paper.
In addition to AirPrint, the Officejet Pro 8500A Plus also features HP's ePrint technology, which enables you to send jobs from any connected device to the printer using the uniquely assigned email address. You can find this address by 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 must also be connected to your network. For another, 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 labelled 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 colouring pages, paper aeroplane templates and other crafts. You can install additional free apps, but you must do so from HP's ePrint Centre website after creating an account.
The standard flat-bed scanner/copier can scan or copy A4- and legal-sized documents. With the HP's 4800dpi 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 email program. The duplexing auto-document feeder on top of the machine can also flip pages around for hands-free scanning of single- and double-sided originals.
Pages per minute
- Black text
- Colour graphics
Epson WorkForce 520
Epson WorkForce 840
HP Officejet Pro 8600 Plus
HP Officejet 8500A Plus
Lexmark Prevail Pro705
Canon Pixma MX870
(Longer bars indicate better performance)
The HP Officejet Pro 8600 Plus registered similar scores to the preceding Officejet Pro 8500A Plus, with a slight bump in print speeds across all four output tests. Despite the improved engine, the Epson WorkForce 840 was still able to outgun HP in the presentation and plain black-text speed tests, albeit only marginally.
You could easily mistake the excellent print quality of the HP Officejet Pro 8600 Plus for output from a laser printer. With solid lines in both colour and black and white, and especially darkened greyscale prints, the documents are of high-enough quality that I wouldn't hesitate to hand them out at a client meeting. Like the WorkForce 840, the Officejet Pro 8600 Plus exhibited impressively crisp photo-output quality with bright, vivid colours and minimal blurring, even in finer text sizes.
HP has succeeded again in building a classy, fast and reliable all-in-one imaging device for the business market, but I wouldn't end my recommendation at the office door. With its spread of convenient connectivity features and cloud printing that includes ePrint and AirPrint compatibility, the affordable Officejet Pro 8600 Plus will earn its place as a solid performer in any environment that demands high-quality document and image prints.