HP Envy 4520 Wireless AIO Photo Printer Review

If you are looking for an affordable all-in-one inkjet printer, then the HP 4520 Wireless All-in-one Photo Printer comes to fill that gap for you. This is an ideal printer for folks who do not want to spend too much in a printer that they may only use every once in a while but that doesn’t mean it can’t do everything other printers can. This is a printer, scanner and copy machine all built in one device. The outside is a brand new design for HP and this time they went with a pretty low profile. There is a usual scanner lid on the top, a pull out jaw underneath than you can feed up to 100 sheets of paper and there is a USB port in the back for connection to your computer.

The face of the unit is really bear with only one of the actual buttons for powering on/off. All the other controls happen through the 2.2 inch monochrome LCD display. The set up is really easy, you can either use the software CD included to install the drivers or you can download them from the internet for the latest updates. You can print using a USB connector or you can connect the printer to your Wi-Fi network so that you can print from the cloud. Even though it’s not the smallest printer on the market in its price range, the HP 4520 is a dependable performer and worth the investment.

Design and features

The HP 4520 comes with a matte black finish with a patterned scanner lid on the top. It has a curved chassis that measures 14.4 x 17.5 x 5 inches which is relatively bigger than other units in the market such as the Epson XP-420. It suffices as a desktop printer to place anywhere with the house or in a small office for printing thanks to its Wi-Fi support capability. It comes with mono touchscreen LCD that is 2.2 inches which provides the only physical controls in addition to the on/off button.

In the absence of a wireless network, you can connect the printer through a direct-wired USB to a single PC. It however does not come with a dedicated USB port which could come in handy to connect with external storage or USB thumb drives for direct printing.  Important to note is the fact you will have to connect the printer directly to the internet for the standard mobile-connectivity options to work including Apple AirPrint and cloud. You can also connect your mobile device to the printer via wireless direct. This is an equivalent of HP’s Wi-Fi direct a protocol for connecting your devices to the printer without any intermediary connection via a router or network.

The printer has a 100-sheet input tray that is quite sufficient for most home use however you will be forced to change manually between photo paper and plain paper every time you want to use it. The output tray comes with a slider to adjust to different paper sizes including A4, A5, B5, DL, C6 and A6. Conspicuously missing is an auto document feeder feature or Automatic Document Feeder (ADF) for copying or scanning multipage documents without user assistance. As such, you will have to scan one page at time. If you go for this type of printer, then you should keep your scanning volume to the minimum otherwise consider going for a printer with an ADF.

Performance

The envy is capable of capturing scans with a resolution of up to 1200×2400 dpi for detailed images. The flatbed scanner supports different formats including PDF, PNG, JPEG and TIFF. The printer performs dismally on the business application suite managing 1.4 pages whereas the Brother MFC-J470DW manages 4.9ppm and even the Epson Expression Home XP-420 small-in-one outshines it at 2.6ppm. The output quality is mixed up with the text quality scoring below most inkjet MFPS but you won’t find this to be a problem if you use fonts bigger than 8 points. Additionally, graphics and photos come out reasonably detailed and vibrant.

Cost per page

It is important to consider the running cost of your printer be it in the house or for small scale office use. The HP envy comes with an Instant Ink Program that lets you to print a number of pages per month at a fixed fee. It works more of the same as your cell-phone plan. There are three different monthly subscriptions to fit your printing volumes, with the best per-page deal for most folks being what the company calls its “Frequent Printing” tier. There is a whole overview of the plans at HP website which will help you make an informed decision on the most suitable plan for you. One of HP’s selling points for Instant Ink is that the printer monitors ink levels and automatically orders more ink before you run out, so the new cartridges arrive before you need them. However, HP attempts to impose this instant ink program to users with constant reminders whenever you change the ink cartridge or install the printer.

Conclusion

The HP Envy 4520 is a decent AIO wireless ink-jet printer that gives you value for money that best fits general home use. It offers scan and copy functions, and Wi-Fi networking and can run on both Windows and Mac OS. The medium 2.2 inch monochrome LCD display interface offers most of the controls and you can connect the printer directly to A PC with a USB cable. The printer however lacks some office-centric features like an ADF for scanning, and there are better printers in the competition that can beat it in its own game in one way or the other. For instance the Brother MFC J470DW eschews the HP when it comes to speed and offers better text quality. The Brother model also comes with an ADF and Fax capability, some of the essential features that are missing in the 4520. If all you need is a basic printer with excellent print quality, then you may consider the HP Envy 4520.

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