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HP Envy 4500

HP Envy 4500 review: Capable and cheap, but it’s not the all-in-one we’d buy

Our Rating :
Price when reviewed : 59
inc VAT

A cheap MFP with strong features and decent performance, but it’s a bit slow

Specifications

9ppm print speed, USB, 802.11n wireless, 390x445x608mm

http://www.hp.co.uk

The HP Envy 4500 may be cheap but its specifications are those of a more expensive printer. There’s support for wireless networking and automatic duplex printing, for example. Unlike budget entries in HP’s Deskjet range, even those with Wi-Fi, the Envy 4500 also supports HP’s ePrinting standard. This means you can set it up with an email address, and it’ll print anything sent to that address. There also support for printing from Android and iOS mobile devices, which is common to most printers and all-in-ones with either wireless or wired networking.

HP Envy 4500

It’s worth noting that HP sells the Envy 4500 under a variety of very similar model numbers, though, so whether you’re looking at an HP Envy 4500, Envy 4523, Envy 4524 or Envy 4527, you’ll end up with the same printing, scanning and copying features as the model we’re testing here. 

Once set up, you begin to see where HP has made some savings to produce the Envy 4500 at its price. It takes black and tricolour ink cartridges, rather than the individual tanks found on more expensive printers, which means you’ll need to replace your colour cartridge as soon as you’ve drained one of its colours, rather than replace colours separately based on your usage. Its monochrome display isn’t touch sensitive either. Neither compromise is unreasonable for the price, but the paper handling is perhaps a little too basic. The input tray is captive in the base, and when loaded with A4 paper the front panel can’t be closed. Mono print costs are a surprisingly high 4p per page, even using HP’s high-yield XL cartridges. This is balanced out by a low colour cost of 5.75p per page, which gives you a reasonable mixed black and colour cost of 9.8p. However, it’s worth noting that tri-colour cartridges can have some hidden costs in that you have to replace the whole cartridge if you run out of any one colour of ink.

Slightly dubious interface design for both scanner and printer elements of MFPs is something that’s sadly familiar in HP’s devices. In this case the interface in the Envy 4500 print driver is far too simple for an MFP aimed primarily at family users. It tidies away too many common options in the unfriendly Advanced section. Incredibly, this includes paper size, which is a basic setting for anyone who needs to print photos, particularly as the Envy range has full support for borderless photo printing, unlike HP’s Deskjet range. The TWAIN scanner interface is similarly over-simplified, and only provides predefined resolution choices that don’t include 150dpi, which is one of our standard test resolutions.

HP Envy 4500

Fortunately, there’s a lot to like about the Envy 4500 when it comes to print quality. It produced fairly good black text on plain paper, while colour graphics were excellent. Colours had real strength, and there was little sign of banding or other inkjet weaknesses. With only three colours, given that the pigment-based black isn’t used for the task, this isn’t an amazing photo printer. However, the results were still quite good on a variety of coated papers. Our one gripe was that the paper transport mechanism’s grip wheels left tiny tracks in the glossy finish of our A4 black and white test print. While black tones initially looked decidedly pale and bluish, they developed over a couple of days to a deeper shade, although they never quite matched up to prints produced by devices with a dedicated photo black cartridge.

Scan Interface We’re not keen on HP’s over-simplified scan interface, which lacks genuine advanced options

This Envy 4500’s scanner performed general-purpose jobs well, although high-resolution scans appeared to have been processed to boost their contrast, giving them an artificial look. The irritating software is unfortunate because the scanner’s ability to distinguish every shade on our test pattern suggests that the underlying hardware is very good.

Advanced Paper Size The print driver is also over-simplified; you need the Advanced settings for things as basic as paper size or maximum resolution

In prints and copies this is an unhurried device, with standard quality text emerging at 8.7ppm, although pleasingly sharp draft text was a bit nippier at 13.5ppm, and good enough to use for a fair of day-to-day printing. Although colour print quality is very good for a budget inkjet, the Envy’s colour print speed of 1.8ppm is still sluggish in our book. Photos were very slow indeed, with six postcard-sized borderless prints taking nearly 27 minutes to print. Tested over Wi-Fi, scan speeds were on the slow side of typical, although at two and a half minutes our 1,200 dots-per-inch photo scan was just slow.

HP Envy 4500 review: Verdict

Despite some niggles this MFP performs well, and is about as smart-looking as a printer gets. When we originally reviewed the Envy 4500 it cost £59, but prices fell steadily after its release and despite it now being end of line, you may find it going cheap in various places across the web. It remains a reasonable MFP with wireless capabilities, although you do end up making concessions in terms of consumables. That said, rather than replace the tri-colour cartridge every time one of the ink tanks runs low, we’d much rather spend slightly more on a printer with individual colour inks. For instance, the excellent Canon Pixma MG5750 will only set you back around £80 – it’s a much better buy and remains our Best Buy winner in this competitive price range.

Basic Specifications

Rating****
Maximum native print resolution4,800×1,200dpi
Max optical resolution1,200×2,400dpi
Output bit depth24-bit

Quoted Speeds

Quoted speed, mono A49ppm
Quoted speed, colour A45ppm

Tested Print Speeds

Time for two 10x8in photos 1.019m 13s
Time for six 6x4in photos 1.026m 40s

Physical and Environmental

Standard printer interfacesUSB, 802.11n wireless
Optional printer interfacesnone
Size390x445x608mm
Weight5.5kg
Noise (in normal use)64dB(A)
Duty cycle1,000 pages

Paper Handling

Maximum paper sizeup to A4
Maximum paper weight250gsm
Standard paper inputs1
Standard paper input capacity100
Maximum paper inputs1
Maximum paper input capacity100
Duplex (code, cost if option)Yes

General

Printer technologythermal inkjet
Supported operating systemsWindows XP/Vista/7/8, Mac OS X 10.6 or later
Other inkjet featuresmulti-line mono display, cloud printing
Other inkjet options£19

Buying Information

Price£59
Consumable parts and prices£18
Price per colour A4 page5.8p
Quoted life of supplied black cartridge190 pages (ISO/IEC 24712)
Quoted life of supplied colour cartridge(s)165 pages (ISO/IEC 24712)
Quoted life of supplied photo cartridge(s)N/A
Warrantyone year RTB
Supplierhttp://www.hp.co.uk
Detailswww.hp.co.uk

Print Quality

Number of ink colours4
Number of ink cartridges2
Maximum number of ink colours4
Maximum number of cartridges2
Quoted photo durability50 years
Quoted photo durability sourceHP

Tested Scan Speeds

Full scan area preview21s
A4 document at 150dpiFail
A4 document at 300dpi31s
6x4in photo at 600dpi42s
6x4in photo at 1200dpi2m 31s

Tested Copy Speeds

Time for single A4 mono copy 1.025s
Time for single A4 colour copy 1.043s
Time for 10 A4 copies using feeder 2.0N/A

Photo Features

PictBridge supportNo
Borderless printingup to A4
Direct (PC-less) printingYes
Supported memory cardsnone
CD printingNo

Copy Features

Maximum number of copies20
Max mono copy resolution600dpi
Max colour copy resolution600×1,200dpi

Fax Features

Max mono fax resolutionN/A
Fax memory (maximum mono pages)N/A
HP Envy 4500
HP Envy 4500 review: It's good – but not the one we'd buy
All-in-one printers Home office Printers

A cheap MFP with strong features and decent performance, but it’s a bit slow

59 inc VAT