Review: HP's OfficeJet J6480 All-in-One Printer - Page 2

By Gerry Blackwell | Posted July 24, 2008

Fast Enough, Good Enough

Once installed, the J6480 worked well. Print speed is rated at “up to” 31 pages per minute (ppm) for black (after the first page) and up to 25 ppm for color. This doesn’t necessarily mean it will print that many pages that fast – print speed partly depends on how much text and/or graphics is on each page. But the J6480 was markedly faster than an earlier generation of OfficeJet all-in-one, the 4300, with which we compared it.

One note on speed: when you use duplex printing, the J6480 pauses for a few seconds after printing the first side while the ink dries. This is to prevent smudging and gumming up the printer when it pulls the page back through the rollers to print the second side. It slows things down a little but, hey, it’s the right thing to do.

Resolution for black printing is given as “up to” 1,200 dpi (dots per inch) “rendered,” which means it doesn’t actually lay down 1,200 discrete drops per inch, but has the look of 1,200 dpi printing. Print quality in Normal mode is good, in Presentation mode on premium plain paper it approaches laser printer quality.

Color print resolution is given as up to 4,800 x 1,200 dpi “optimized.” In tests printing PDFs of commercially produced brochures with text and photos on premium plain paper, photo reproduction was very good – for a three-color-plus-black print engine.

Three-color printers like this one are limited in their ability to render certain colors and subtle gradations between colors. Dedicated photo printers with more ink colors will always do a better job. Still, photo prints from the J6480 on glossy HP premium photo paper were more than acceptable.

Most noticeable flaw: print-screen color matching was predictably off, with skin colors appearing too orange. The J6480 also doesn’t use the fastest-drying ink – it can smudge immediately after printing and will take fingerprints on glossy paper minutes later.

Multi-Mode Scanning

The scanning/copying functionality is one of the nice features of this all-in-one. The J6480 provides not only sheet-fed scanning – the automatic document feeder (ADF) will take up to 35 letter-size sheets at a time – but also flatbed. Many AIOs offer one or the other.

Scan resolution is given as 2,400 x 4,800 ppi (pixels per inch) optical and up to 19,200 ppi (multiplying pixels across by pixels down) enhanced. This is more than adequate for most office document scanning tasks.

The J6480 can also scan photo prints and even includes automatic fix-while-you-scan features, such as automatic adjustments to restore color in faded originals. But it’s probably not adequate where photo quality is critical to a project.

The built-in OCR software works about as well as OCR software in other AIOs we’ve tested – quite well, but far from perfect.

You can use resulting text without extensive editing when scanning a lot of documents that you want to be able to search afterwards – for archiving, for example. But if you need to use OCRed text in a new document, edit it carefully to catch sometimes hard-to-spot errors, such as words run together.

Fax set-up was surprisingly easy and trouble free. The J6480 allows you to use lines with phone company identi-ring – where the phone rings with one tone, two short or three short depending which number the caller dialed. And it lets you set the number of rings before the fax answers. Sending and receiving faxes worked flawlessly in our testing.

I’m a computer-centric worker and my preference is to control an all-in-one from my PC, but the J6480 does have a control panel with a two-line monochrome LCD display, telephone keypad and reasonably intuitive control buttons that allow you to change settings and launch jobs from the printer itself. So even computer-phobes can use it.

Bottom Line

It’s tough to think of any function the J6480 lacks that a micro business might need: it pretty much does everything. And does it well enough, in some cases very well. Our one concern: how well can a $170 all-in-one stand up to the wear and tear of daily use?

Based in London, Canada, Gerry Blackwell has been writing about information technology and telecommunications for a variety of print and online publications since the 1980s.

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