HP OfficeJet Pro 8600 Review

HP Officejet Pro 8600 review
The features on the HP OfficeJet Pro 8600 printer are just about perfect. There is a design flaw and apparently some manufacturing quality control problems. Minus one star for the design flaw and another star for the quality control problems.
I compared the specifications of 27 printers from HP, Brother, Canon, Xerox, Dell, Oki, Lexmark, Samsung, and Epson. This was the printer of choice for me for the best features at the best price. I bought this printer and my family really loves it for all different reasons. My daughter loves the easy scanning. My other daughter loves the fast printing with clear text and color graphics. My wife loves the easy to use color copying features. I love the ink that is smudge resistant, water resistant and as inexpensive as any ink out there.

Features

This printer is loaded with features. Some other reviews have mistakes about the features, so here is the straight scoop.

The 8600 Premium has the following extras that are in addition to the 8600 Plus:

  • Extra 951 Magenta ink cartridge (CN051A)
  • Extra 951 Yellow ink cartridge (CN052A)
  • Extra 951 Cyan ink cartridge (CN050A)
  • Readiris Pro 12 OCR software (I use Acrobat Pro for my OCR, so I haven’t used this)
  • 50 Sheets of Marketsplash and HP Brochure Printer Paper (photo paper)
  • 250 sheet extra paper tray (CN548A)

Note: The 8600 Plus and 8600 Premium both have four starter ink cartridges. The ink listed above is in addition to these cartridges.

Setup was very simple. In fact, I set it up for a wired connection first. Then when I figured out that I needed the Ethernet port on my switch for something else, I turned on wireless. Even though the printer had a new IP Address, all of my devices could print to it without any reconfiguration. Nice.

Printing:

Printing is very fast. I have had the unit for 30 days and have printed almost 400 pages. The starter ink cartridges appear to have less ink than standard cartridges, but they are about 1/6 – 1/5 used. The ink is smudge resistant. The cost per page calculates out to about 1.4 cents per page for black and white and 6.2 cents per page for color using the 950XL print cartridges at street price. This is the cheapest of any of the 27 printers I evaluated.
The quality looks pretty good to me. This isn’t a high end photo printer, but photos look pretty good on photo paper.

With the extra paper tray of the 8600 Premium, I can put an entire ream of paper in the printer when it runs out since each tray holds 250 pages.

Airprint from an iPad 3 works perfectly. You can also print by sending an email attachment to the printer and the attachment will print. Google Cloud print is also supported, but I haven’t tried it yet.

Only Mac O/S 10.5.x and above is supported. If you have 10.4.x PowerPC computers like me, then there are no drivers. You can print via email. It is probably time to upgrade my Macs.

You can print photos directly from a USB thumb drive, SD Card, and Memory stick. You can preview the photos on the screen before you print.

Borderless printing is supported. You can print duplex in color and black and white.

Contrary to other reports, you can print cardstock just fine. In fact, last night my daughter printed some color flash cards on 4 x 6 cards. These can feed just fine from paper tray 1. Paper tray 2 must be used for plain paper only. You can’t duplex 4 x 6 cards.

Also, contrary to other reports, the second paper tray was recognized perfectly when I installed it before powering up.
You can print sizes from 4 x 6 cards all the way up to legal paper.

Scanning:

You can scan to a computer, send your scans via email to someone, scan to a USB or memory card, scan to a network share, and even control scanning via a web page served up on the printers built in web server. I scan to multiple samba (SMB) network shares. You simply configure the shares via the web page and when you press the scan button on the printer, it asks you which destination you wish for the scans. Each destination can have different default presets (PDF, jpeg, etc.).
Contrary to other reports, you can scan both sides (duplex) in color using the 50 sheet automatic document feeder. Depending on the defaults set, you may have change the settings to “2 sided original” before scanning. Note that the official HP Manual says that “the ADF does not support double-sided documents”, but it is wrong. As a test, I did a 3 page double sided color scan to PDF. The result was a 6 page PDF file just as you would expect. I also did a 1 page double sided color scan to JPG. The result was two separate JPG files as expected.

The scans look pretty good to me. Perhaps not professional quality, but they work for most things that I need.

The flatbed scanner is legal size. Some of the other units out there only have letter sized glass. Another rare feature is a disengaging lid that can extend upward so that you can scan thick books with the lid down.

You can scan multiple paper sizes. I scanned a very thin piece of paper in the automatic document feeder (ADF) that was 4.5 inches x 5.5 inches and it fed just fine. The scan was slightly crooked but the image size was adjusted to the size of the paper instead of having an 8.5 x 11 sized image with the smaller image of the scan on it. The ADF has adjustable guides that adjust for widths between 4.7 inches and 8.5 inches wide.

Copying:

This was our first color copy machine. It is very easy to make single or double sided copies from single or double sided originals. There are also special copy modes such as copying both sides of a drivers license onto one sheet of paper easily. You can preview your copy on the screen before copying.

You can also scale the copy size, but this is a little awkward since there are no defined presets like 125%, 150%, 200%. Instead you have to press up or down for each 1% you want to change.

You can copy from the automatic document feeder or on the glass.

FAX:

I have VoIP phone service and never could get fax to work on my previous Brother MFC. I continually received “line quality” errors. The 8600 wasn’t any better. This is almost certainly the fault of my phone service rather than the HP 8600, but I was hoping it would be better.

There is a very strange thing about the 8600 fax. It requires a two connector RJ-9 modular phone plug to plug into the 8600. The RJ-9 modular phone plug is your normal standard phone plug; however, most are 4 conductor plugs (four bands of metal on the connector) rather than 2 even though only 2 are usually used (the middle two for a single line system). For some strange reason, if the 8600 sees a plug with more than two conductors, it will give an error stating that you are using the wrong cord and will refuse to work. The 8600 comes with a 2 conductor cord to connect to your phone jack, but if you need a longer cord, you will likely have a hard time finding a 2 conductor version. Very strange.

Other Features:

The printer has a wired 10/100 MB Ethernet port. I would have preferred a 1000 MB port.

The printer has an 802.11 b/g/n wireless network card that operates only on 2.4 GHz. There is support for Wi-Fi Protected Setup (WPS). I would have preferred a 5 GHz wireless card.

The printer has a USB 2.0 option for connecting the printer to your computer. I would have preferred USB 3.0.

There is support for Windows, Mac OS (10.5.x and above), and even Linux (haven’t tried yet).

IPv6 is supported, but I haven’t converted my network to IPv6 yet so I couldn’t test it.

The touch screen is large, colorful, and quite intuitive. However, it is a little hard to press the screen and the accuracy doesn’t seem to be quite on. If you are used to an Android or Apple smart phone screen, then this isn’t one of them; however, it is quite usable.

Design Flaw

The biggest complaint about this printer is that the automatic document feeder (ADF) is connected to the lid itself. Other designs have it split from the lid. The problem with this printer is when you raise the lid and try to scan from the glass, a sensor in the automatic document feeder thinks that it has something to scan in it. Thus, you get a nasty error when you try to scan from the glass with the lid up.

There is a work around. When you raise the lid, you can listen carefully for the sensor to engage. As long as you lift the lid slowly to the vertical and don’t go past straight vertical, the lid will stay up and you can scan from the glass. Kind of a pain, but it works.

Minus one star.

Quality Control

I have received two printers so far and both of them were defective.

The first one had a scratch on the front which was surprising given all of the padding. I can overlook that cosmetic flaw even though it was annoying; however, the copy function from the glass with the lid down started behaving erratically. From time to time, whatever you copied came out with an almost completely black printout. It was as if the scan bar had a strange error because you could see parts of your original in the copy. Turning the printer off and on usually fixed the problem, but at least one time required three off and on cycles to make it work. It failed within 30 days, so I returned it to the company from which I bought it.

I bought a replacement unit from a different company because the price had dropped by $50 and the first company wouldn’t match it. It arrived, I unpacked it, and out of the box the touch screen had problems. Instead of a black background, there were sections of the screen that were purple. When you press the touch screen buttons, the display screen goes crazy. Sometime it stays crazy and sometimes it returns to normal. There are some wires loose somewhere. This problem should definitely been caught at the factory.

I called HP support and they told me that they would send me out a replacement printer and pay for return shipping of mine. Nice. However, they will only replace the printer with a REFURBISHED printer – not a new one, even though the printer was broken out of the box. Not good, HP.

Minus one star.

UPDATE: I am now on my fourth printer from HP in as many months. Each had a different quality control manufacturing flaw. Hopefully this latest printer will work correctly. I have noticed that the last two printers worked much better when scanning from glass with an open cover. The design flaw is still there if you open the cover very quickly or past vertical, but the problem doesn’t occur when I use it normally. Perhaps later versions have a fix in them.

UPDATE: The fourth printer has been working just fine now for about two months. I just ran out of ink for the first time. I believe that the 951 Setup Cartridges have less ink than a normal 951 Cartridge. The yellow ran out first, but they are all close to empty. I love the fact that I can replace each cartridge one at a time when they run out so I don’t waste ink. I got 943 total pages printed, 568 were color, and 2 were borderless. Most printouts were web pages or simple graphics. I probably printed about 20 high quality color prints on photo paper. Overall, the ink seems to be lasting well. I will see when I actually go through a real 951 Cartridge.

UPDATE: I just discovered a major flaw in the Wireless implementation on this printer. If you have a large area to cover with Wireless in your home, you typically set up multiple Access Points (APs) with the same SSID and different channels. This allows you to roam around your house and automatically connect to the best AP. Apparently, this HP Printer (and likely others) will not work over Wireless if you have more than one AP with the same SSID. This is really broken and based on feedback in the forums, HP doesn’t intend to fix the problem. If you have more than one AP, you must use the WIRED port to hook up the printer.

I tried to include very detailed information in this review that I gathered from different places and through personal experience. I hope that you find it helpful.

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