HP Envy 120 review - Outstanding build quality and interface; but with high running costs and disappointing photo output

The HP Envy 120 is a designer printer, so its interface and build quality are outstanding – even if the prints don’t match up

This sumptuous slab of glass and gloss black is an unlikely all-in-one printer, and it’s as luxurious as they come. It’s just 110mm high with a see-through scanning lid, and when you first turn it on the motorised control panel – complete with colour touchscreen – rises gracefully to greet you. If you think that’s neat, wait until you print something: the thin output tray arm extends automatically too. 

Everything is designed for a smooth experience, and that includes the initial setup. You’re prompted to go online and create an ePrint account for printing over email, and the wireless security settings are automatically sent to the device. AirPrint worked flawlessly at the first time of asking, too. 

If it was easy to make a printer so small and sleek they’d all be doing it, so there are of course compromises. HP’s quoted print speeds of 7ppm for mono and 4ppm for colour are the lowest here, and we didn’t get even hit them in our tests. Draft mono pages came out at 5.8ppm, with normal quality at 3.7ppm – mainly due to overzealous pauses between pages to let the ink dry. Colour pages came out at just 2.8ppm, but a 6 x 4in photo took a more reasonable 63 seconds.

With only two cartridges, quality was never going to match that of the six-ink printers in the group, but our test prints were still okay for the most part. Colours were mostly accurate, although photos had a cold, bluish tinge to them, and text wasn’t particularly crisp. We’d hoped for better given how slowly the prints arrive.

OUR VERDICT

Still, if Apple made a printer, it would probably be a lot like the HP Envy 120. It’s beautifully designed and built, initial setup and daily use are both as easy as any we’ve experienced, and it comes with the highest price tag and running costs here. Whether it’s right for you depends on your approach to home furnishings: pretty much every printer here is better for actual printing, but nothing comes close to the Envy 120’s glorious design.

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