It can print black and white documents and colour pages quickly in draft quality settings, and the top-loading 20-page automatic document feeder is a boon for quickly scanning or copying multi-page documents. If overall print quality isn't the most important requirement for your business, the HP Officejet 4500 is a strong performer in other areas.
Setting up the HP Officejet 4500 is a simple task. It has a USB 2.0 port as well as 10/100 Ethernet for connecting the printer to a wired office network — we opted for USB to directly connect a MacBook Pro notebook and install drivers on Mac OS X (although Windows 7, XP and Vista drivers are bundled on the same disc). After installing the print cartridges the HP OfficeJet 4500 runs through a quick alignment process and is ready for printing within a few minutes.
When printing a 60-page monochrome document we were able to achieve a speed close to HP's quoted rate of 28 sheets per minute, with an average wait of around 2.3 seconds between pages. Shorter runs suffer because of the slight delay before the initial page prints. Switching to normal quality affects print speeds severely — our 20-page colour PDF document took a total of 5min 32sec to print, which is a print speed of just under 4 pages per minute. This is on par with mid-range multifunctions like the Canon MP550.
The HP Officejet 4500 is one of the cheapest multifunction inkjet printers we've seen that also incorporates an automatic document feeder, which makes multi-page document scanning an easy task. If you've got a filing cabinet full of old documents that you'd like to do away with, using a device like the Officejet 4500 could save a lot of time and frustration. It's not a particularly speedy process to photocopy multiple sheets using the ADF, with A4 prints coming out at an average of one every 20 seconds, but it is convenient.
Running costs for the HP Officejet 4500 are acceptable unless you're printing excessively high volumes — in which case a laser might be a better choice. Retail pricing for the HP 901 black cartridge is £14, while the tri-colour cartridge is £26 — this makes the ongoing running cost 7p per A4 black page.
If multi-page scanning/copying and fast print speeds (albeit at mediocre quality settings) are important to you, the HP Officejet 4500 delivers at a low initial price.
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