HP OfficeJet Pro 6830 and Instant Ink review

HP OfficeJet Pro 6830

In many ways the OfficeJet Pro 6830 is a conventional multifunction printer, aimed at home workers and small businesses. However, it's also the first printer that HP has launched in the UK that can be used in conjunction with its new 'Instant Ink' subscription scheme. See also: what's the best multifunction printer?

Priced at just £129, the OfficeJet Pro 6830 printer is certainly good value for money, providing a 1200x600dpi printer, 1200x1200dpi scanner and copier, and fax machine. It includes USB, wifi and Ethernet connectivity, and supports Apple's AirPrint for printing to iOS devices, as well as HP's own ePrint app for Android devices. The printer also provides two-sided printing, along with a 35-page document feeder. It only has a single paper tray, with a capacity of 225 sheets of A4 paper, but that should be perfectly adequate for the small business users that the printer is aimed at.

HP quotes speeds of 18 pages per minute for mono printing, and 10ppm for colour. Our test documents actually produced speeds of 14ppm for simple mono text, and 6ppm for documents that contained text and graphics, but those speeds are respectable enough for a printer in this price range. Print quality is very good too, with sharp, smooth text that comes close to laser quality. Photo printing on ordinary plain paper was a bit dull, but using more expensive glossy paper produced much better results, so the OfficeJet Pro 6830 can certainly be used to produce marketing brochures or occasional product photos if required.

But, of course, a low purchase price is often accompanied by high costs for replacement ink cartridges. If you buy one of HP's value packs you can get a complete set of high-yield colour cartridges – cyan, magenta and yellow – that produce 825 pages for £37.00. That works out at 4.5p per page for colour printing, which is actually very reasonable. Oddly, though, simple mono printing isn't quite so competitive. The high-yield black cartridge provides 1000 pages and costs £23.00, which comes to 2.3p per page – which isn't exorbitant, but is still a little higher than we'd have liked for a business printer that is going to be used on a daily basis.

There is, however, a third option in the form of that new Instant Ink subscription scheme. This allows you to pay a flat fee that covers a specific number of pages each month – £1.99 for 50 pages per month, £3.49 for 100 pages, and £7.99 for 300 pages per month. The printer monitors its own ink levels and automatically orders replacement cartridges when they are required, but the cost of these cartridges is included in your monthly subscription fee.

According to HP, this is considerably less expensive than paying for replacement cartridges as you would normally do. The catch here is that the cost per page is the same, regardless of whether you're printing mono or colour. The £1.99 subscription therefore works out at 4p per page – which is very good for colour, but poor for mono. The £3.49 subscription works out at 3.5p per page, while the £7.99 subscription drops to 2.6p per page. The subscription schemes therefore represent good value for colour printing, but poor value for simple mono documents. There's a sting in the tail here as well. If you don't print the full number of pages in one month then you can carry some pages over to the next month. But if you go over your monthly limit then you could end up paying even higher fees, depending on the number of excess pages and the particular subscription fee that you have signed up for. See also: what's the best multifunction printer?

HP OfficeJet Pro 6830: Specs

  • four-colour (CMYK) A4 inkjet printer
  • 1200x600dpi print resolution
  • 1200x1200dpi scanner
  • 300x300dpi fax
  • rated speed – 18/10ppm for mono/colour
  • 1x USB interface, 1x Ethernet, 802.11n wifi
  • 225-sheet input tray
  • 35-sheet document feeder
  • dimensions – 462x388x224mm
  • weight – 8.0kg
  • four-colour (CMYK) A4 inkjet printer
  • 1200x600dpi print resolution
  • 1200x1200dpi scanner
  • 300x300dpi fax
  • rated speed – 18/10ppm for mono/colour
  • 1x USB interface, 1x Ethernet, 802.11n wifi
  • 225-sheet input tray
  • 35-sheet document feeder
  • dimensions – 462x388x224mm
  • weight – 8.0kg

OUR VERDICT

Any attempt to reduce the cost of running a printer is obviously welcome, but you need to think carefully about your printing needs before signing up for the Instant Ink service. If you have light printing needs then you may well find that you're better off simply buying replacement cartridges just as you would for any other printer. In that case, the OfficeJet Pro 6830 is good value for people who regularly need high-quality colour printing for brochures and other marketing documents, but less competitive on routine mono printing for letters and other text-heavy documents.

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