HP Envy 4500 review

Previous versions of HP’s Envy printers have been impressively designed, but were expensive both in terms of their initial purchase price and also in the cost of buying replacement ink cartridges.

The new Envy 4500 corrects one of those problems – but not both. The printer itself is far less expensive than we’d expected, costing just £49.00. That’s a real bargain, considering the wireless connectivity and other features that are built into the printer. But, as is often the case, the sting in the tail comes with the cost of the ink cartridges.

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Like all the Envy printers, the 4500 model has a neat, low profile design that measures just 125mm high and 445mm wide, so it’s easy to sit it on a desk or on a convenient shelf if you’re tight for space at home. And despite the low price, HP manages to include USB and wireless connectivity, 1200dpi scanner and copier, two-sided printing, 100-sheet paper tray, and support for Apple’s AirPrint technology so that you can print from an iPhone or iPad. And, for non-Apple devices, HP also includes support for Google’s CloudPrint and its own Wireless Direct feature, which allows wireless devices to connect directly to the printer without the need to use an existing wifi network.

You wouldn’t expect a printer costing less than £50 to be particularly fast, and HP quotes speeds of just 8.8 pages per minute for mono and 5.2ppm for colour. In fact, our test results were closer to 7ppm for mono and 3.5ppm for colour, but those speeds are still adequate for light use at home.

The printer’s 1200dpi resolution and four-colour print system produced good quality for text and graphics documents, and it’s more than adequate for printing letters, graphs and charts, and school reports for the kids. Photo output was good too, although the colours on our test photos weren’t quite as vibrant as we might have liked. To be fair, though, you can’t really expect first-class photo output from such an inexpensive printer, and the Envy 4500 is still adequate for printing out the occasional 4x6 postcard of your holiday snaps.

Colour printing isn’t too expensive either, as the XL-size three-colour cartridge (cyan, magenta, and yellow) costs £25.00 when bought directly from HP and should last for about 330 pages. That works out at 7.6p per page, which is around average for an inkjet printer of this type. However, the XL black cartridge also costs £25.00 and can only manage a modest 480 pages – or 5.2p per page. That’s definitely above average, so you’ll really need to shop around online and see if you can find a better deal for those cartridges.

OUR VERDICT

A purchase price of £49.00 is hard to beat for such a versatile printer, with its two-sided printing and AirPrint support. Its performance and print quality are also perfectly adequate for simple documents and postcard prints. However, basic mono printing is expensive and means that the Envy 4500 can only really be recommended for occasional, light use at home.

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