HP Officejet J6480 All-in-One Inkjet Multifunction Printer
Saturday, June 7, 2008; 12:19 AM
The HP Officejet J6480 All-in-One color inkjet multifunction printer competes with other midrange MFPs, includingLexmark's X9575 ProfessionalandDell's 968w--and all offer a similar array of features, including integrated Wi-Fi. The J6480 manages to do everything for the lowest price of the bunch, which might help some people overlook its middling performance and quirks.
In our speed tests, the J6480 printed text at a passable 7.3 pages per minute (ppm) and color graphics at 2.4 ppm. The results were only somewhat worth the wait: On plain paper, text looked dark-charcoal rather than the preferred true black, with some unevenness to the edges, while color images appeared a little grainy. HP's own photo paper improved matters--color images seemed a little dark, but natural and smooth. Scans and copies looked a bit fuzzy but quite good.
Multifunction printers in this price range struggle to fit more stuff into a fairly compact case. The Officejet J6480 does a pretty good job with the all-important paper handling. The main input tray holds a voluminous 250 sheets of plain paper, as well as thicker media. The lid of the input tray is also the 50-sheet output tray, with a wide, pull-out extension. An auto duplexer (for two-sided printing) hangs off the back, and a 35-sheet automatic document feeder (ADF) sits atop the scanner.
I wish HP had paid as much attention to ease of use. The control panel is clearly laid out and fairly easy to navigate. The power button, however, is the same dark color as its surroundings and sits in the far upper-right corner of the angled main control panel. It lights green when the machine is on, but the user needs to see it before then. The button to activate the Wi-Fi transceiver is on the front of the machine, but the installation documentation neglects to tell you to turn it on if you want to use it; the manual buries that revelation in the troubleshooting section. Finally, though ink levels display on the two-line monochrome LCD, the droplet icons beneath each indicator are the same silvery color--you can't tell which cartridge you're looking at.
Ink costs are just shy of pricey. A 780-page, high-yield black cartridge costs $30, or 3.8 cents per page; the 520-page, high-yield tricolor cartridge costs $35, or 6.7 cents per page.
The HP Officejet J6480 offers a lot of features for the price, but slowness is the primary trade-off. Although HP's ratings in our recentReliability and Service surveywere just average overall, among midrange MFPs this model is still very competitive.