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HP Tango X review: The future of home printing?

Tim Danton
5 Mar 2019
Our Rating 
Price when reviewed 
180
inc VAT

A clever printer that fits in with our phone-obsessed lifestyles, but being 100% wireless has its drawbacks

Pros 
Quiet and compact
High-quality prints
Free photo prints
Cons 
No USB connection
Not the fastest performance speeds
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The HP Tango X isn’t a normal printer. While the phrase “designed from the ground up” has been overused to the point of redundancy, the Tango genuinely has been. HP’s engineers have cast aside all thoughts of what a typical home printer is and created something that will fit into our (and it hurts me to write these words) modern lifestyle.

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HP Tango X review: Design and setup

In practical terms, that means this printer is 100% wireless. Indeed, its setup routine is based around your phone rather than your PC via the HP Smart app. It’s also both quiet and compact, with the Tango X including a textured wraparound cover/output tray that means you can camouflage your printer when it’s not in use.

While that may seem like a silly gimmick, I found it useful in practice: I tested this printer in my living room, and 99% of the time I wasn’t using it so didn’t need to gaze at its off-white form. The obvious drawback came when one of my family wanted to print out a page and it wasn’t loaded with paper, ready and waiting.

The printer’s wireless nature also proved an issue for placement. It still needs a power supply, so you can’t just put it anywhere, and perhaps because it uses 802.11n Wi-Fi rather than 802.11ac, I found the Tango fussy about where it lived. You need a solid Wi-Fi connection because there’s no USB port to connect to when it stops working.

HP Tango X review: Print speeds

Nor should you expect fast print speeds. HP claims 20ppm mono and 11ppm colour, but those figures are for draft mode and assume minimal actual printing occurs.

In reality, you’ll have to wait around 30 seconds for the first page to appear and can expect, at most, three or four pages per minute. However, that’s fine for this machine’s intended use, which is for occasional printing such as homework.

HP Tango X review: Performance

The good news is you can also expect excellent quality. In part because it isn’t in such a rush to output pages, in part because it uses black pigment ink, text is solid with no feathering, while the three-colour ink cartridge produces strong graphics and excellent photos.

Print on HP photo paper and you’ll get prints that will last your lifetime and, unless you whip out a magnifying glass, look just as good as professional print-outs from sites such as Photobox. Their only slight flaw is a 1mm-thick white border on one edge.

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HP Tango X review: Running costs

That brings me to one of the Tango’s big claims: sign up to one of HP’s paid-for ink replacement schemes and it promises free photo prints for the printer’s lifetime. Even if you opt for the £1.99 per month scheme, which covers 50 normal pages per month, you can keep on printing and HP will send you cartridges as you need them. You can view all your options here.

There are three other caveats. First, that the photos must be printed from your phone, not your PC. You will also need to provide the photo paper – this doesn’t need to be HP-branded – and note that your freebies only go up to 7 x 5in. Print an A4 photo and you’ll be paying full whack. But this is still an excellent deal and helps soften the blow of the Tango’s high asking price.

HP Tango X review: Other features

The Tango also supports copying and scanning, but, again, your phone is called for. Open up HP Smart and press the Copy button: you’re then prompted to take a photo of your target document, which is sharpened and straightened before being sent to the printer. You can also “scan to email” in a similar way.

While the app integrates with both Dropbox and Google Drive, you can only print out PDFs and JPEG photos from HP Smart. This is one of the few areas where the Tango frustrates, because surely it makes sense to print out Google Docs and Microsoft Office documents from here?

Still, you can get around this by printing to the HP Tango in the normal way from your computer, or email the document to your printer’s unique email address.

HP Tango X review: Verdict

If the Tango sounds appealing, then note you have two buying choices: the straight Tango for £129, which is the same printer but doesn’t include the wraparound cover, or the Tango X which does. It costs an extra £51, which seems crazy for a piece of fabric, but is arguably worth it.

And while either option is expensive compared to conventional all-in-one printers, the truth is that HP does deliver on its promise. This, rather than a bulky printer sitting in the corner of a study, is surely the future of home printing.

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Key specifications
Print resolution4,800 x 1,200dpi
Maximum paper sizeA4/Legal
Claimed print speed20ppm mono, 11ppm colour
Wi-Fi802.11n
BluetoothBluetooth LE
Dimensions377 x 206 x 91mm
Weight3.08kg
Warranty1yr limited warranty
Price£180