A printer with an App Store.
As I mentioned earlier, the HP OfficeJet Pro 8500A Plus is loaded as far as features are concerned. Starting off, you can connect it to your computer through a USB cable or just put the printer directly on your network using a wired or a wireless connection. The front has a USB input as well as a card reader that you can directly print pictures from. While the USB/SD cards let you print pictures directly, it would’ve been nice if you could have also printed Word docs or PDF files from removable media.
The duplexer lets you handle double sided printing as well and the way it works is that the printer prints the first page, sucks the paper back and then prints on the back side. There is a bit of a wait between printing the front side and then sucking the paper back in to allow the ink to dry otherwise you’d end up with a smudged output. Double-sided printing works either by issuing a print command from your computer or using the copy function on the printer. The latter option does not support legal sized documents though.
The above mentioned features are somewhat standard on many printers- what does set the HP OfficeJet Pro 8500A Plus apart is its web connectivity. When you have the printer connected to an Internet-enabled network, it acquires an email address and printing to it is as easy and sending an email to that address. To set this up, your printer needs to have its Web services enabled and I ran into a problem doing just that. My router was blocking the ports required for the printer to connect online and once I enabled these ports (80, 443, 5222, 5223), I was all set.
I tested this out by sending a PDF file as an attachment to the email address of my printer. I immediately got a confirmation reply back that the email was received and was being sent to the printer. A minute later the printer starting printing the six page PDF document I had sent to it. Very impressive. Also supported by the HP OfficeJet Pro 8500A Plus is Apple’s AirPrint technology that allows you to print something from your iOS device without the need of installing any drivers. This also worked flawlessly as I printed a picture from my iPad.
The last and possibly the most interesting feature about HP’s web connect service is its ability to support apps. That’s right folks, your printer now has an app store that can do things like printing Sudoko puzzles to accessing your Google docs account to view or print any of your documents or scan and upload. Since I use Google docs for all work, including writing this article, logged on to my account using the printer and printed it out once the document was closed. Again, very impressive. Other apps included on the printer are Tabloid, Yahoo! and Dreamworks that has activity guides and coloring papers- stuff that my daughters would go apes over.