HP 8500A Good for Light Printing, not a Heavyweight
Relatively small desktop "footprint" for All-in-One machine; good price
Ink hog, noisy, slow start-up time, print quality good but not great
The Bottom Line:
A nice printer if you need color on occasion; not a good choice for someone with lots of regular color printing needs.
HP claims that the lower-end model of its 8500 series All-in-One provides "outstanding color prints and marketing materials." I think that's over-sell.
I can only speak for this model - the cheapest of three similar HP printers - and what I would say is that I would not recommend it for any business that needs to print marketing materials on a regular basis. Why?
First, the quality is good, but not what I'd consider "professional" grade. Second, it's a real ink hog. I haven't tracked every color copy, but I'm pretty sure it's asking for new print cartridges well before it hits its advertised number of printed color pages.
And even for a home-based office with limited color printing needs (that describes me), I'm not sure it's an ideal solution.
I should point out that this the fourth HP printer I have owned. Two of my three previous printers are still in use; I donated the other when I bought this one and assume it's also still working. So when I went looking for a slightly better color printer, I specifically looked at HP products, because I've had great experiences with them.
I'm not ready to give up on HP based on my experience with the 8500A, but I am extremely disappointed in the quality of this machine relative to the others I've had.
In addition to it being an ink hog and simply not being "that" much better than my much older, cheaper color All-in-One, the 8500A is slower than molasses at warming up (my 21-year-old HP4 can warm up and print out a 6-page document before this machine is ready to print!) it's also quite loud as it warms up and when it prints - so much so that it's rather distracting when I'm on the phone with clients. Last annoying trait I'll mention here: it jams more than any HP printer I've ever owned or used! I probably print about 15 sheets a week with this, and I'd estimate about three of those jam.
On the bright side, this printer is a heck of a good price - $300 is about top dollar, and most of the larger office supply stores have rebates/discounts/free shipping available. And, its color quality is GOOD, just not high-quality enough to be considered a professional grade printer. It also handles the set-up of the fax send/receive process better than my previous All-in-One unit (HP PSC 1610). Another point I should make: its ink cartridges are priced slightly lower than other ink cartridges, and those probably aren't any better. Plus, HP stands by its products - almost legendarily, compared with other printer manufacturers.
In spite of my detracting comments, I would recommend this to friends for their personal use. I would not recommend it to professionals or offices that need to do a lot of color printing. Why would I recommend it? It's still an HP, so although this doesn't seem to be one of the company's best products, it's likely still better than many of the other manufacturers' options at this price, and I'm betting it will outlast most of them, based on my experience with other HP products.
The bottom line: if you have regular need for high-quality color prints, look for another printer. If you want the option to have color occasionally, but polished printouts aren't paramount, this could be a good deal for you.