HP Photosmart 7520 e-All-in-One review
This multifunction inkjet sits at the top of HP's Photosmart range. As the name suggests it's a photo-orientated printer for the home, but it's packed with a variety of useful features including a 25-page ADF and a fax modem, potentially making it an all-rounder capable of taking on office duties. It's rather big and boxy, with a tilting touchscreen control panel that looks like someone has stuck an Android phone on the front of the printer.
We haven't always enjoyed HP's printer touch interfaces, but this one is brilliant. It comprises a 4.3in screen surrounded by a few context-sensitive function buttons, displaying clear and feature-rich menus. It's generally quick to respond to taps and swipes, but we found it helped to briefly tap-hold selections to be sure the input had registered. The huge screen is put to good use, offering features such as a document preview during copy operations.
This is the first time we've encountered an HP printer using the increasingly popular five-ink setup, which includes a pigment black for text printing on plain paper, and dye-based black, cyan, magenta and yellow inks for photos. Unlike some other systems, HP's photo black ink is only used during photo prints, meaning that we can't factor it into our running cost calculations. Excluding it, pages of mixed text and graphics should cost just under 7p, which is quite reasonable. HP's figures suggest that the photo cartridge will last for an average of 290 6x4in photos, which works out at roughly 4p per photo for this cartridge alone.
Typically for an HP inkjet, the Photosmart 7520 produced good quality results on plain paper, delivering crisp black text at a rapid 12.5ppm and nearly reaching 19ppm at Draft quality. Colour speeds were less impressive, but the results were still very good.
You'd hope that a photo-orientated printer would also excel on glossy paper, but the 7520 was disappointing in a couple of ways. At its highest resolution setting, available only through the driver's unfriendly advanced settings, it was a touch slow, and the results looked in places as though they had been sharpened too much. More seriously, you can only select borderless prints in the advanced menu, and even then our prints on HP's own paper had narrow borders along two edges.
Although with this MFP, HP's scan interface contains a couple more options than usual, it's still over-simplified - particularly for the type of creative user who might be attracted to a photo product. There are no automatic crops or levels, and despite the presence of an 'Optimize for image quality' tick box, all our scans looked over-sharpened and artificial. We were also perplexed that the Scan Size box defaulted to Letter rather than A4, even though our test PC is correctly localised for the UK.
It's hard to avoid the impression that this is a high quality MFP that's let down by simplistic drivers and over-zealous scan sharpening which can't be de-selected. It's a shame, as when used from the touchscreen rather than a PC this is certainly an impressive device.
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