If color laser printers seem like the future of classroom printing, there is a less power-hungry way to put images and text onto paper for students, administrators and parents. Because they use less electricity, good old fashioned inkjet printers, like HP’s OfficeJet Pro 8600 Plus, can give laser devices a run for the money
The OJ Pro 8600+ does just about everything having anything to do with documents and paper. On top of traditional printing, it scans, faxes and copies, effectively consolidating all document creation and management functions into one device. About the only thing it can’t do is shred old papers that aren’t needed at the end of the school year.
For a system that does so many different tasks, it’s remarkably small. The OJ Pro 8600+ measures 12.8- by 19- by 15-inches but have two people on hand to lift it out of the box and set it up. You’ll want to put it on a sturdy shelf or tabletop because as it does its thing, the printer rocks side to side.
Getting it connected is the easy part with the ability to use USB, Ethernet or WiFi to feed it with data. There’s even an extra USB connector upfront to lift items from a memory key as well as two flash card slots that work let you grab and print documents and images from SD, MS and CompactFlash cards. Unfortunately, like so many printers these days, it comes without a USB or networking cable.
The OJ Pro 8600+ has software for Macs and PCs and the automatic installation routine takes all of about 5 minutes to load the necessary programs. Plus the 4.25-inch touchscreen control panel plays animation to show you what to do next, making this complex device one of the easiest to get working and use.
Inside the printer is a 360Mhz processor and 128MB of memory, more than enough to store 100 fax pages. It has a 250-page paper tray and HP sells an optional second tray for underneath; together they hold a full ream of paper. It can print at up to 1,200 by 1,200 dots per inch, with sharp output that has most large areas well filled in. On the downside, it has a dull appearance and the pages can come out wrinkled with some bleed-through on dense originals.
Using a WiFi connection, the OJ Pro 8600+ was able to pump out the first page in 18.3 seconds. It printed monochrome math worksheets at roughly 5.1 pages per minute in single side mode in the printer’s top resolution. When using the built-in duplexer, that speed drops to less than 3 pages per minute, partly because the printer pauses for a few seconds between pages to allow the ink to dry and avoid smudges.
With HP’s eprint software, you can print to this device from just about any place that has an Internet connection. It works with PCs, Macs, iPads and Android devices, and allows a teacher to do things like printing the next day’s vocabulary worksheets from home the night before and have them waiting for the class in the morning.
Unlike most all-in-one devices, the OJ Pro 8600+’s sheet feeder has a built-in duplexer. This makes copying and faxing double-sided originals fast and automatic. The device also has a legal-size scan bed for digitizing larger documents than typical all-in-ones can. It can scan at up to 4,800 dpi and was able to turn an 8- by 10-inch original into a 200- and 600-dpi digital file in 47.3 and 1 minute and 17.4 seconds, respectively.
The system worked well at sending and receiving faxes over a traditional analog phone line. It has a speed dial address book that can hold up to 99 numbers and if your school’s phone lines have Caller ID, the OJ Pro 8600+ can block advertising faxes as soon as the sending number is established.
With individual ink cartridges for black, cyan, magenta and yellow, using the OJ Pro 8600+ means you won’t be throwing away a three-ink cartridge because one of the reservoirs is empty. When you do need to replace an ink module, the cartridge carrier automatically moves to a spot where you can remove it. Happily, there’s a bright light inside to help see what’s going on.
The system’s software keeps an eye on things with the OJ Pro 8600+ and will let you know when its ink cartridges are running low. For good or bad, the installation puts an easily removable link to order new cartridges on the system’s desktop.
At $24 for the color cartridges and $35 for the black one, it costs roughly 6 cents a page to print monochrome pages and 21 cents to do color ones. By contrast, Dell’s 1355 all-in-one printer costs roughly 18 cents per color page. This is a little steep, but you can cut paper costs nearly in half by using the duplexer and unlike laser printers, there’s no drum or fuser that requires periodic, and often messy, replacement.
There’s another way to save with the OJ Pro 8600+. It uses only 23 watts when it’s printing, less than one-twentieth that of the typical color laser printer. On top of cutting the school’s power bills, this printer doesn’t require that the classroom be required to safely meet this electrical demand.
The system comes with a 1-year warranty, but extending it to three years costs only $25, one of the best bargains around today. Because the OJ 8600+ can work with a variety of computers it’s the perfect device for a department or floor to share.
HP OfficeJet Pro 8600 Plus
+ One device does it all
+ Can print from anywhere
+ Touchscreen control panel
+ Low power use
+ Legal-size scan bed
+ Choice of connection method
- Slightly expensive output
- Printer shakes when in use