If the HP Officejet 6100 ePrinter ($99.99 direct) succeeds at nothing else, it significantly redefines the features you should demand in an inexpensive inkjet printer. Suitable for both home and office use, it's a good fit in the dual role of home and home office printer, as a shared printer in a micro office, or as a personal printer in any size office. It's also the hands-down winner as budget priced Editors' Choice for any of these roles.
In addition to fast printing with reasonably good output quality across the board, the Officejet 6100 offers both Ethernet and WiFi, along with USB of course. And as with the more expensive Editors' Choice HP Officejet Pro 8100 ePrinter ($149.99 direct, 4.5 stars), the ePrinter in the name indicates more exotic connection options as well, namely: support for printing from iOS devices over WiFi with Apple AirPrint and for printing through the cloud with the free HP ePrint service. The HP ePrint Web site assigns the printer an email address, which lets you print documents by sending them to the printer as email attachments.
The Officejet 6100 also earns points for its 250-sheet input capacity, instead of the more typical 100 or 150 sheets at this price. Not surprisingly, however, you don't get a duplexer (for printing on both sides of the page) and there's only one paper tray. If you want to print an envelope, say, you'll have to swap out the paper in the tray first.
Basics, Setup, and Speed
At 7.1 by 18.4 by 15.3 inches (HWD), and only 10.6 pounds, the Officejet 6100 is both light enough for one person to move easily, and small enough to share a desk with. Setup is typical for the breed, with an extra, mostly automated, step for registering the printer with ePrint.
For my tests, I connected to a wired network and installed the drivers on a Windows Vista system. On our business applications suite (timed with QualityLogic's hardware and software) it came in at an effective 3.6 pages per minute (ppm). That counts as a more than respectable speed for the price. The somewhat more expensive Editors' Choice Epson WorkForce 60 ($129.99 direct, 4 stars), for example, was only a little faster, at 4.1 ppm.
The Officejet 6100 also scored well on photo speed, averaging 1 minute 8 seconds for a 4 by 6 photo. That's not much slower than the OfficeJet Pro 8100, at 52 seconds, and almost twice as fast as the WorkForce 60, at 2:12.
Output Quality and Other Issues
Output quality for the Officejet 6100 is at the low end of par for an inkjet overall, but still good enough for most business and personal needs. Text lacks the crispness that you'd get from a laser printer, and I wouldn't even consider using it for, say, a resume. For day to day business use, however, you shouldn't have any complaints unless you have an unusual need for small fonts.
Graphics quality is easily good enough for most home use or for any internal business need, including PowerPoint handouts for example. I saw banding in some full-page graphics, but it was relatively subtle with most color fills, and didn't show at all with some. I also saw a loss of some thin lines, but that's a common issue, and the Officejet 6100 does better on this score than many printers. Colors in photos were a little oversaturated, but roughly a match overall for the low end of what you'd expect from drug store prints.
Ultimately, the Officejet 6100 offers a lot to like. It?s fast for both business applications and photos, it delivers reasonably good quality across the board, and it offers a higher paper capacity than most printers at this price. It also lets you share the printer over a network, print from iOS devices with AirPrint, and print from anywhere and any device by sending documents as email attachments. All this adds up to making the HP Officejet 6100 ePrinter a strong contender as either a personal printer or shared printer at home or in a micro office, and also makes it Editors' Choice.
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