The only disappointing omission is a USB host port for walk-up printing or scanning.
Design and usage
This MFP’s design is typical of the latest generation of HP printers: all swoops and curved surfaces, and a colour touchscreen replacing the clutter of conventional buttons. It’s rather nice, but it’s not perfect: the acres of sombre black plastic won’t be to everyone’s taste, and it’s annoying that the 250-sheet paper input tray is captive in the base. I often mention how this can make loading and unloading paper fiddly, and it certainly was here: it’s tricky to push 6x4" photo paper far enough in, and almost impossible to grab its front edge to extract it again. Everything else works well, however, particularly the touchscreen, which supports tap and drag gestures.
Also see: Still The Best Laser Printers for Mac UK
The HP’s ink cartridges share similar packaging and design to those of Canon’s Pixma range, which suggests there may be some shared technology. Unfortunately they also share the lack of physical keying that would prevent you from inserting the wrong colour in the wrong slot – care might be needed here.
You can buy XL replacement cartridges rated at 825 colour pages each, and a black cartridge capable of 1,500 pages. Using these, running costs are a competitive 5.8p per A4 page of text and graphics, but this printer is also compatible with HP’s Instant Ink – where new supplies are ordered automatically and delivered as needed. This can typically lower costs further, and it’s worth looking into whether HP is running free trials if you’re planning to buy.
Printing speeds are fast across the board. The OfficeJet Pro 6960 completed our 25-page mono text test at a rate of 15.6 pages per minute (ppm) and our more complex colour graphics test at 4.7ppm. In Draft mode, it reached 18.5ppm on text, and the quality was still quite acceptable. Photo printing was slower, however: with the Max DPI mode switched on, borderless postcard-sized photos took about 90 seconds each.
I’ve reviewed recent HP MFPs with slow automatic document feeders (ADFs). This one was quick for mono copies, helping deliver ten pages in 80 seconds, but in colour the same job took almost three minutes. The scanner itself might not be helping: even over a USB connection it needed 1min 16secs to copy a 6 x 4in photo at 600 dots per inch (dpi), and it took a tedious 4mins 40secs to scan the same photo at 1,200dpi. I’m no fan of HP’s oversimplified TWAIN scan interface, either, and my test photo scans appeared to have been digitally sharpened, which made them look unnatural.
The OfficeJet Pro 6960 has good features and a nice design, and printing quality is high. It’s fairly cheap to run, too, which makes a good choice for everyday office work. Its scanner is too slow, however, and HP’s annoying software doesn’t help get the best out of it. It's still not cheap any you be better off choosing the Epson Workforce WF-3620DWF instead.