The J6480 is a suitable addition to HP's Officejet All-in-One range. Although this multi-function's running costs may exceed some users' budgets, it has excellent features and delivers decent print quality.
One of the key connectivity features of the J6480 is its built-in wireless node. Compatible with 802.11b/g standards, the multi-function can connect to an existing wireless router, or facilitate a direct ad-hoc connection to a compatible device. Once HP software is installed on the computer, the device can be used just as if it were connected via USB. Users can print, scan and fax from the computer, as well as access data from any media cards that have been inserted in the device
The J6480 offers a number of other features that we were impressed with. An automatic document feeder is complemented by an automatic duplex option. There is an Ethernet port available for wired networking. Users can send faxes with the J6480, but there is also a 'scan to e-mail option. Users can scan a document in JPEG or PDF format and automatically attach it to an email. However, it seems that this can only be done through the device's USB connection, rather than Ethernet or wireless. Nevertheless, this feature could be extremely useful for businesses.
A number of PC-free functions make this multi-function stand out. Apart from fax and copy functions, users can also scan to computers without launching the PC application. From the device's control panel, users can choose which computer to scan to — using either a wired or wireless connection. Photo printing can also be achieved with the help of the J6480's card reader. However, as the device only has a small monochrome LCD screen, users are restricted to choosing from photo file names rather than previewing their content.
Printing speeds were quite fast. At draft quality, the device managed to print 19.35 text pages per minute and documents with graphical elements printed at 14.3ppm. While this does not rival the speeds managed by the Epson Stylus CX8300, it is still faster than most. Unlike most multi-functions which rely on three quality settings, the J6480 adds a fourth — Fast Normal — which is designed to compromise between normal quality and draft speeds. This is achieved to a large degree, printing at 8.3ppm with text documents at this quality setting, and 4.5ppm with graphics documents. While somewhat slower than draft, the quality difference was definitely noticeable. Draft documents were quite blurred and inaccurate, whereas Fast Normal documents managed to print faster than documents at the normal print settings while retaining much of the quality.
Given the J6480's intended purpose, print quality was acceptable. Photos are noticeably darker than photo-orientated multi-functions such as the Canon PIXMA MP970. Nevertheless, colour is quite accurate, with realistic yellows and defined blacks. While the J6480 did not provide the same vibrancy as the Canon, results should be acceptable for most users. The printer did have some trouble in printing graphic elements — at normal quality there was a noticeable amount of blurred text when overlayed with graphical elements. This did not occur when printed at best quality.
Scan quality was quite impressive. The J6480 is capable of an optical scanning resolution of up to 4800dpi for normal pictures, exceeding that of the PIXMA MP970. While this resolution can be impractical given the size of the resulting documents — nearly 2GB per file — it has some uses, particularly in regards to professional photography and text recognition. At a 1200dpi, the J6480 proved to have impressive scanning quality, with accurate colours. The scanner had some problems with lines — faces could sometimes have jagged edges upon close inspection, possibly due to a lack of anti-aliasing built-in to the software.
At 32.8 cents per printed page, the J6480 isn't the cheapest of printers to run. Given that it's targeted towards the home office, this printer isn't as competitive as it could be cost-wise. Nevertheless, given the multitude of features available for a relatively low initial price point, this may not be an issue for many.