A big, sturdy, multifunctional printer, but its wealth of features are marred by disappointing prints and scans
- Quick and easy to set up
- Fast mono printing
- Ink subscription could cut running costs
- Significant slowdown when printing colour
- Disappointing photo print quality
- Inferior scanner
If you think laser printers are for offices and inkjets are for home, the HP OfficeJet 6950 might change your mind.
This is a multi-function inkjet printer designed with an office workload in mind: it’s fast to print, sturdily built and has all the features most offices could want.
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HP OfficeJet 6950 review: What do you get for the money?
The HP OfficeJet 6950 is a big, dark grey box. At 464 x 518 x 229mm (WDH) it dominates any table you place it on.
That’s perhaps understandable given you’re getting a colour A4 printer, flatbed scanner, sheet-fed copier and fax machine in one device, though. And its size is tempered, somewhat, by its quirky, slanted styling. It gives the impression of a printer that’s been manufactured in italic, which is strangely pleasing to the eye.
The top of the printer is dominated by a 35-sheet automatic document feeder, under which sits the scanner bed. Below that, there’s a simple control panel with a small, monochrome touchscreen. At the bottom is a removable paper tray, which can hold 225 sheets of plain paper. The printer’s maximum print resolution is 600 x 1,200dpi.
You can connect to the printer from a PC using a USB cable, or connect from all manner of devices by connecting it to your Wi-Fi network. There’s also a pair of RJ-11 ports on the rear to connect it to your phone line for sending and receiving faxes, and to connect your existing phone so you can still make regular calls.
Also worth noting is that the OfficeJet 6950 comes with a two-month trial of HP’s “Instant Ink” service. This alternative way of paying for ink still uses regular ink cartridges but you sign up to a pay-as-you-go subscription, instead of buying new cartridges as you need them. You pay up-front for a monthly quota of pages, which can range from 15 (for 99p per month) to 700 (£22.49 per month), and covers a range of options in between.
When your printer is running out of ink, HP sends you a new cartridge in the post, regardless of which Instant Ink plan you’re on. You can switch between plans on a monthly basis and stop at any time.
HP OfficeJet 6950 review: Is it easy to use?
At 2.2in across the diagonal, the OfficeJet 6950’s touchscreen is a bit too small to avoid being fiddly, requiring plenty of scrolling to get through the various menus. However, it’s still perfectly usable and preferable to smaller LCD displays that require physical buttons to navigate.
Setting up the device to work with a PC is relatively straightforward using HP’s Smart app, which can be easily downloaded from the Windows 10 Store. This takes you through the basics, downloads the latest software and is also used to access the printer’s everyday functions. While setup is smooth, there are some aspects of it that are frustrating; you can’t use it to scan documents and photos at its maximum resolution of 1,200dpi, for example.
Looking closely at the result of scans to the PC, though, you can perhaps see why: in our scan tests it suffered from banding and failed to capture detail. As a result I wouldn’t recommend this printer if you’re also looking for a decent scanner.
HP OfficeJet 6950 review: What about speed and running costs?
Printer cartridges are split into the standard four colours, so there’s no waste as they’re used up. The cost of printing is a bit over the odds for an inkjet, with mono prints working out at 4.6p per page and colour 6.5p per page, if you purchase the best value XL cartridges.
However, these prices can be smoothed to between 3p and 4p per print using HP’s “Instant Ink”. The cheapest 99p per month “Light” plan lets you print 15 pages per month, which works out to 6.6p per page, regardless of whether it’s colour or mono. However, as you move up the plans, printing gets cheaper. There’s a “Moderate” plan, costing £3.49 per month, that lets you print 100 pages per month, which works out to 3.5p per page. Spend more and you get more pages and the price decreases.
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It’s worth noting, however, that if you go over your quota, additional prints are usually charged at 10p per page. If you don’t use your full allowance, you can carry prints over to the following month, which can be redeemed against future over-printing, but you can only hold a maximum of three times your current page quota. Getting the best value out of a subscription requires you to keep reasonably close to the quota.
The main thing in its favour of the HP OfficeJet 6950 is its speed. This is an inkjet printer that can almost keep up with laser printers when it comes to ploughing through the pages.
It produced the first page of our 25-page test document in 12 seconds and went on to reach an impressive speed of 14.6 pages per minute. Colour prints were slower, dropping to 4.4 pages per minute and printing on both sides of a sheet of paper slows things further – down to three sides per minute when printing in colour.
It prints photos quickly, though, taking just over six minutes to print six 6x4in images. Our 10x8in test photos were also produced at impressive speed, taking a total of 4 minutes 11 seconds.
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Copies were produced at equally impressive rates. In our tests, the OfficeJet 6950 reproduced a mono copy of a document using the flatbed scanner in 12 seconds, which is very fast. Colour copies took a bit longer, finishing the scan and print after 25 seconds.
Copies made with the document feeder were created at similar speeds, although this is slightly less impressive as most printers we’ve tested speed up once they can control the speed at which pages are flying through their document feeders.
HP OfficeJet 6950 review: What’s print quality like?
Where speed was impressive, alas, quality was a different story. In general, I found the prints produced by the HP OfficeJet 6950 looked washed out and pale, particularly with photos.
Here, it’s the dark areas of photos that suffer the most, with black looking more like a very dark green than the neutral it should have been. Even in photos that needed to be pale, though, I found the printer deposited too much ink and oversaturated colours.
When it comes to printing text and mixed content on plain paper, however, the quality is fine, although the colour elements still can’t compete with the best inkjet printers. It also did a decent job of duplex printing, keeping the ink from soaking through the page, even on cheap paper.
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HP OfficeJet 6950 review: Should you buy it?
I was hoping for better quality photo prints from the HP OfficeJet 6950 but that might not bother you too much if you’re looking for an office workhorse. On that front, there’s plenty here to like: it prints and copies quickly and at a reasonable price per page as well.
Even here, though, there are better choices. HP’s own OfficeJet Pro 8022, for instance, costs around the same amount of money to buy but is cheaper to run if you prefer to buy your cartridges rather than use HP’s Instant Ink subscription. It’s also better at printing photos and is almost – but not quite – as fast.