The first thing you'll notice about the $150 (as of February 6, 2012) HP Photosmart 6510 e-All-in-One color inkjet multifunction printer is that it looks better than the competition. But it's also a good printer, with first-rate output quality and better-than-average print speeds, though ink costs are just average.
The Photosmart 6510's good looks are partly due to its 3.45-inch touchscreen control panel. The screen is large enough to read and tap easily, too, making the unit as a whole very easy to use. Connectivity falls a bit short: You'll find only SD and Memory Stick card slots behind a front panel, and the machine has no USB/PictBridge port--an unusual omission. The MFP does support USB and Wi-Fi, though, and the installation routine is concise.
HP's bundled software for the Photosmart 6510 is simple to use and supports all of the unit's capabilities, including scanning and copying. It also allows you to scan from the control panel to a PC or a Mac, even if you're using Wi-Fi; some competing models require a USB connection for this function. The Photosmart 6510 supports HP's Web-based apps and remote Web printing, as well as local printing via Wi-Fi from Android and iOS devices.
Paper-handling features for the Photosmart 6510 are fine for low-volume printing and the occasional scan. The 80-page paper cassette has an integrated 20-sheet photo tray. The output tray holds 50 sheets, and the MFP offers automatic duplexing (two-sided printing). You don't get an automatic document feeder here, but you can find an ADF on a slightly higher-priced cousin, the Photosmart 7510. Unfortunately, HP seems to have abandoned the notion that users will ever scan anything thicker than a letter: None of the Photosmart units we've tested have a telescoping lid to facilitate the scanning of pages from magazines or books.
The Photosmart 6510's ink costs are merely average. The standard black cartridge costs $12 and lasts for 250 pages (4.8 cents per page), while the standard cyan, magenta, and yellow color cartridges cost $10 each and last for 300 pages, or 3.33 cents per page. That's about 15 cents for a four-color page. You can reduce the color ink costs appreciably with the XL cartridges, which are $18 for 750 pages, or 2.4 cents per page--almost a cent per page cheaper per color. However, the $23 XL black lasts for only 550 pages, or 4.2 cents per page, only slightly less than the standard black.
In our tests, the Photosmart 6510 posted average to slightly above-average print and scan speeds. Text and monochrome graphics exited at a sprightly 7.7 pages per minute on the PC and 7.2 ppm on the Mac--nearly a page per minute faster than the median rate. A half-page photo printed at a slightly above-average rate of about 3.16 ppm, while the same image printed at a slightly below-average rate of about 1 ppm to glossy photo paper. Single-page copies came out around the norm at 3 ppm. Full-page photos printed on the Mac arrived at a rate of about 0.4 ppm--a bit slower than average.
Output from the Photosmart 6510 is very good. At standard settings, text appears sharp and black, though color graphics tend to be a little grainy on plain paper. The color palette overall has a slight lean toward yellow, giving graphics a warm and friendly, if not completely accurate, vibe. On glossy photo paper, color graphics show considerable detail in dark areas and are overall quite nice, with the same warm color scale.
There's no doubt that the HP Photosmart 6510 will look better on your desk than most competitors will. Beyond that, the output is quite good, and the MFP is easy to operate. If your scanning needs are minimal--meaning, the lack of an ADF and a telescoping scanner lid won't disturb you--the Photosmart 6510 is a good choice for the price.