Saturday, April 10, 2010

HP 6500 All-In-One Wireless

I needed a scanner to scan few photographs and occasionally receipts for the expense reports. After searching for sometime on craigslist and not finding exactly what I wanted I stumbled on a special in my costco coupon book. Special was for a wireless version of HP 6500 All-In-One. For $109 it seemed like not that much for a printer so I decided to pick one up.

My initial impressions of this machine are surprisingly positive. After unpacking it and connecting the power, printer demanded that I put in a print head and cartridges. When all was in place, including a few sheets of plain paper, printer came to life and started its calibration process. It lasted about 6 to 8 minutes, during which printer made some noise and at the end printed a page with various colors and patterns on it.
Connecting to wireless network was relatively easy. I had to print network status page to find out what wireless interface mac address was, then added printer to the list of allowed wireless devices and allocated fixed IP address for it. Ether manual or wizard network configurations yielded the same result - printer connected to my wireless network.

I read in some review that this printer has built in web server so I pointed my browser to printer's IP and got the information and configuration pages. You can configure network settings, look up the state of the ink cartridges and do some other things. One of the features is operating a scanner. Images can be scanned directly in to web browser. This works well but you can not control the image parameters or the scan resolution. For quick scan of pictures or receipts this option is simple and effective.

Next step was installing the drivers. I skipped included CD and went straight to HP website from which I downloaded "corporate" driver installer. This was the smallest available installer at 25MB. It actually provided all of the drivers without any of the applications, which is exactly what I wanted. Installer guides you through the printer setup and all you really have to do is to select the printer and to click next a few times. After installer is finished you will have a new printer and a scanner added to the appropriate places and all is ready to go.

I read a lot of reviews before deciding to buy this printer and a lot of them were rather negative. So I had some reservations going in. I am glad to say that most if not all of my concerns were without a merit. People are saying that this printer is noisy, I found this not to be true. It makes some noise but nothing extraordinary, not much worse than my laser printer. Some people are complaining that it is impossible to setup. This also was not true for in my case. Setup was extremely easy and wireless worked well. I only printed in draft mode and in that mode output was fast and colors were good as far as I can tell.

B&W output is crisp when printed on the heavier and good quality Xerox paper. We do not print much in our house so we buy nicer paper and it seems to work well in this printer. Under a magnifying glass output is not as crisp as my laser but to the naked eye it looks fine.

Scanner works very well. I scanned couple of photographs using Paint Shop Pro X and they came out well. The only gripe I have with the scanner is that to select a resolution you need to go out of your way in to some dialog box and cant do it directly. Scanning software is using a lot of CPU, it used 100% of my dual core Athlon. One core was used by scanner application another was used by PSP-X. This is not a big deal but a little strange to me. Resulting image quality was very good and color reproduction was close to the original. Scanning speed depends on resolution and was not very fast. If I would need to do a lot of scanning I would get a dedicated fast scanner. For occasional use however this scanner is more than adequate. It has an option of scanning multiple images and breaking them apart after the fact. This should work faster but I have not tried this option. At basic 200dpi scanning is fast.

If I had to find any negatives about this printer, size would be one of them. It is larger than my laser printer in all dimensions. This probably can be justified since it has scanner with auto feeder and a duplexer for dual side printing, but still I would appreciate if it was smaller.

I did not buy this printer for printing photographs or a large amount of printing so my impression is probably influenced by that. I bought it for versatility it provides with scanner, copier, fax and a color printer in one networked device. It seems to work well for me in that capacity.

I will have a chance yet to be disappointed with how fast it consumes ink or price of ink cartridges or maybe reliability problems. But so far this HP 6500 made a good impression. Regardless, I am keeping my Brother laser around.

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