I haven’t owned a printer for years and the reason I’ve resorted to only printing at work, is simple. Ink. I never seemed to have enough to print the family photos. Then, I never used enough ink and cartridges seemed to have dried up when I needed them. I could never remember which one had run out and found myself more than once, in the queue at computer stores wondering if I had the right colour or size. Over the last couple of weeks though, I’ve changed my tune. The HP Envy 5540 is a neat, stylish home colour printer and scanner that comes preconfigured with a new HP innovation, Instant Ink.
Unpacking the HP Envy reveals a printer much like the others the line the shelves at computer superstores. It’s slim, at only 156mm high and extends 410mms deep, meaning it can easily sit under a spare room desk. Surprisingly, HP have managed to pack in a second paper tray which accepts 15 sheets of postcard sized paper, ideal for photo printing.
There’s a USB port on the printer, but you’ll probably never use it as this printer is equipped with WiFi and is compatible with AirPrint for iOS, meaning you can print wirelessly straight from your iPhone and there are similar apps available for Android and Windows
I’ve often found printers a little fiddly but the two ink cartridges slipped in easily and the small touchscreen on the face of the printer shows a helpful installation video to guide you through the set-up process. HP have really moved on the set-up process and after installing the ink the printer prints a configuration page which you then scan to ensure the printer is aligned and operating as it should.
The WiFi set-up is easy, and the setup web page I was directed to automatically found my printer and connected to my WiFi without me needing to root for my wireless password. As a I finished the set-up, the printer printed a page with an email address for my printer. This allows me to simply email files to the printer, and it will automatically print them and you can customize the address to something easy to remember.
The entire set-up took no more than fifteen minutes and then I printed some test pages. Print speed is good at around ten pages per minute for full pages of text. The quality is excellent for such a low cost printer and text and graphics were sharp, crisp and really well defined. Letters and boarding passes looked great in black and white and colour.
I printed some photos on advanced photo-paper and also experimented with the peel off ‘Social Media Snapshots’ paper. Photo reproduction is good and while a serious photographer would likely buy a dedicated photo printer, the snapshots would be ideal for kids or parties.The Envy 5540 is also a scanner and a copier and both work well, with the scanner producing clear, crisp scans at a resolution of 1200dpi. In a clever piece of engineering they’ve also added double-sided capability to the printer, ideal for longer documents or forms.
The black and white cartridge will print around two hundred pages and the colour cartridge a little less. The Instant Ink service that HP have launched with the Envy 5540 and other web connected printers staves off any concerns around running out of ink just before printing a families boarding cards.
Priced as an add-on subscription service from three Euros a month, it lets your printer manage the ink ordering for you. The WiFi connection that I set up to print wirelessly also lets my printer keep HP updated on my ink levels. When I’m running low, and using a clever prediction of how soon I’ll run out, HP send me out new cartridges. They even include a recycle bag to send the old cartridges back.