With so many printers being released by Epson and Canon, you could be forgiven for forgetting about HP. And just in case you had, here’s the brand new 6540 to demonstrate exactly what the company’s products can do.

The 6540’s biggest selling point is its claim of 30ppm (pages per minute). Speeds quoted by manufacturers should always be taken with a pinch of salt, but while the 6540’s real-world performance is almost half as slow as the stated speed, it still outperforms every other printer in its price range.

Not only does it produce black and white text at the staggering rate of 16ppm, its output is surprisingly dark and legible. Speed falls to a – still rapid – 7.8ppm at the second quality mode. Even with the dark and pristine lettering produced by the third quality setting, performance is a very reasonable 7.5ppm.

Switch to colour and the 6540 is more impressive. Even at the most basic setting, the quality is extremely good at a blistering 6.3ppm – almost half as fast again as its nearest contender. It retains a slender performance lead in the remaining quality modes while producing higher-quality output that fizzes with colour.

The HP’s professional design looks the part and the carefully thought-out external control panel makes it easy to adjust the printer’s settings. While it doesn’t feature any specific digital camera features, you can bolt on an optional 250-sheet paper tray in addition to the standard 150-sheet tray. Factor in the option for automatic two-sided printing and you can see that this is potentially a very powerful inkjet.

Our only complaint concerns the running costs. Black and white text is an affordable 2.5p a page, but for colour output you can expect to pay 4.5–5p per page – making it twice as expensive to print out colour images as on, for example, the Epson Stylus C86.

  • HP: www.hp.com/uk
  • £118 inc VAT

  • Build quality: 8/10
  • Features: 8/10
  • Value for money: 7/10