HP Officejet 6000 Wireless

HP's Officejet 6000 Wireless is an inexpensive four-color ink-jet printer that, as its name implies, has wireless 802.11b/g connectivity. It also has an inexpensive price per print--as long as you buy HP's high capacity ink tanks. Though office ink-jets are nothing new, HP positions the Officejet 6000 as a greener and cheaper alternative to workplace color laser printers.

Setting up the printer isn't difficult but required a few more steps than with most ink-jet printers. The Officejet 6000 uses a print head that's separate from the ink cartridges, and you must open and install the print head before inserting the ink cartridges. You also have to attach the duplexing unit to the back of the printer.

The printer's design is simple and stylish, with rounded corners and a mix of light and dark gray plastic. There are four small buttons on the front, a Power button, a Print Cancel button, a Paper Feed button, and a Wi-Fi button allowing you turn off the wireless capabilities when not in use (a non-Wi-Fi version of the Officejet 6000 is available for US$30 less). The Officejet 6000 has a 250-sheet paper feed and a 50-sheet output tray. It can print automatically on both sides of a sheet of paper, which can help save both trees and money.

Your three options for connecting to the Officejet 6000 are Wi-Fi, USB 2.0 and Ethernet. The Wi-Fi setup was easy; in my experience, some printers make you struggle with the on-printer menus and keys to type in passwords, but the Officejet 6000 lacks such controls. You need to setup the wireless connection from your Mac during the driver installation from the bundled software CD. Once the printer was configured for our wireless network, it showed up automatically in Bonjour when installing the drivers on other systems.

Speed

In terms of speed, the Officejet 6000 was an average performer. Over USB, its 15-second first page out time was fast. The Officejet 6000 printed a 10-page Word document in 1 minute, 15 seconds, and our 4-page PDF in 1 minute, 12 seconds. It took a while longer to print our 22MB color photo in Photoshop, clocking in at 2 minutes, 36 seconds.

Print times increased a bit when printing over our office wireless network. One thing I should mention is that the printer makes some interesting noises after each job, leading you to think, perhaps, that another sheet is about to exit the printer. It's not a big deal, but could be a little annoying if the printer is sitting on your desk next to you.

Image quality

The Officejet 6000's print quality was impressive. During our jury evaluation, the text output received a Very Good rating and could truly be compared to laser quality. Many ink-jets struggle with printing clean text on plain paper; as the ink is absorbed into the paper, it can spread and look messy and fuzzy. Our jury found it difficult to notice any ink bleed or fuzziness with text.

Photos printed on HP's Advanced Glossy Photo Paper also received a Very Good rating. Colors were bright and pleasing, though the output wouldn't compare favorably to a high-end photo printer as it lost much detail in the darker areas of the print. It looks much better than a photo printed on a laser printer with glossy laser paper, however.

Photos and graphics on plain paper weren't of the same high quality, unfortunately, with colors appearing light and muted. Prints using HP's Colorlok Multipurpose paper looked better than prints made on our office copier paper, but there were still some banding in the color ramps of our test page and a blue cast to a grayscale photo we printed. The fine and curved lines looked great.

Cost

With printer reviews, we're constantly asked about the cost to run and maintain a device. If you buy HP's high capacity inks, the four cartridges will cost about $77, which, when divided by the company's estimated ink yields, breaks down to about $.03 per page (black only) and $.09 per page (color). That is a cheaper cost per color page than the last four sub-$1,000 color laser printers we reviewed, and the cost per monochrome page is pretty close to those laser costs.

If you opt for the lower priced, lower capacity inks, the cost per black page increases to $.05 (black) and a full color page will cost $.15. For comparison's sake, another office-oriented ink-jet, Epson's WorkForce 600 ( Macworld rated 4 out of 5 mice ), costs $.04 per page (black) and $.14 per full color page when using high capacity ink cartridges. Prints using HP's standard capacity ink cartridges cost just over $.07 per page (black) and over $.19 per full color page.

Macworld buying advice

If you're in the market for a lower-priced, more environmentally friendly printer for your small business, an ink-jet like HP's Officejet 6000 Wireless may be a better fit than a laser printer. Its smaller, uses less energy, has a low price per print and great looking text. The OfficeJet 6000 can also produce better-looking photos on glossy stock than laser printers typically can.

[James Galbraith is Macworld's lab director.]

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