Review: HP’s OfficeJet J6480 All-in-One Printer

More and more big corporations are paying attention to green IT – looking for ways to reduce carbon emissions associated with information technology equipment and operations. Small businesses can and should do their bit, too.

One easy way: choose a product such as Hewlett-Packard’s recent OfficeJet J6480 All-in-One Printer the next time you need to replace an existing printer or add a new one.

The J6480 delivers color photo and document printing, sheet-fed and flat-bed scanning with optical character recognition (OCR), plus faxing and photocopying. It has Wi-Fi wireless connectivity built in. It’s fast, provides good print quality, and it wasn’t too difficult to set up.

Price: An Amazing $169

We know, of course, that printer manufacturers subsidize the cost of hardware in the expectation of making their profit on ink and paper sales. Still, one worries when a product with this much functionality sells at such a low price. Where, you have to wonder, did they cut corners?

HP claims a duty cycle of up to 5,000 pages. That means if you print an average of five pages a day, it should last four years. HP will make its money on ink cartridges, of that you can be sure, but as with some competing models recently, it offers a more cost-effective, high-capacity cartridge option.

The standard HP 74 Black Inkjet Print Cartridge, with which the product ships and that HP sells for $15, supposedly gives you 210 pages. The $30 HP 74XL cartridge gives you 780 pages.

You likely won’t get that many pages from either, of course – print cartridge capacity depends on how much is on each page and other factors – but the XL cartridge clearly delivers better value.

Greener Than Thou

Just how green is the J6480? It’s Energy Star compliant, meaning it meets standards for reduced power consumption (35 watts while printing, 40 while copying), but lots of modern IT equipment is Energy Star certified.

More importantly, the HP product comes with an auto duplexer that lets you print on both sides of the page. The duplexer in effect flips the page over to print on the other side, automatically.

 HP's OfficeJet J6480 All-in-One Printer
HP’s OfficeJet J6480 All-in-One Printer does it all for $169.

Duplex printing saves paper, which saves costs, but also helps reduce downstream and upstream environmental impacts from pulp and paper production and transportation of paper products, raw materials and finished documents. It also saves trees.

Many big companies now make it a policy to only buy printers with duplex capabilities, and some are configuring them to print on both sides by default.

The J6480 includes a junk fax blocker – you can register phone numbers of known junk faxers, and it won’t answer calls from them – which could reduce unnecessary printing. 

HP’s Smart Web Printing, available with most of its printers, is another tool ostensibly designed to reduce unnecessary printing. It’s a utility that helps you select just the pages or parts of pages at a Web site that you need to print, so you avoid getting reams of pages you didn’t want.

Mind you, we can never understand why people want to print Web pages in the first place. The best way to save paper (and printer ink), of course, is to print less.

Set-Up Pain

To find out how easy it would – or wouldn’t ‑ be for a typical micro business person to set up the J6480, I assigned the task to my partner, who has virtually no hands-on experience with tech products – other than using them. She reports that it was not terribly difficult, but more time consuming than she would like.

HP printers come with voluminous software bundles, including optional components – such as a complete photo software bundle – that most small businesses don’t need. But unless you know to select the manual or advanced install option, the product will install everything, and especially on older, slower computers, that can take a long time.

The documentation was also a little confusing. The quick set-up guide uses sometimes ambiguous graphics and small-print multi-lingual text.

And the J6480 shipped with a generic wireless set-up guide that appears to suggest you need an optional Wi-Fi dongle to make the wireless functions work – until you realize it’s talking about a completely different model. In fact, wireless is built in to this product. Setting up the J6480 to work wirelessly on other computers after an initial install using a USB cable is relatively simple and quick.

The set-up process was also not very forgiving of operator error. When my assistant accidentally hit the eject button on the CD-ROM drive, aborting the installation, she had to uninstall the partly installed software and start over from scratch.

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