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HP Envy Photo 7830 review: Decent photos from a great all-rounder

Sasha Muller
24 Sep 2019
Our Rating 
Price when reviewed 
83
inc VAT

Don’t expect amazing photos, but the 7830 is a good, solid, speedy all-in-one

Pros 
Impressive speeds
Good all-round print quality
Well-priced
Cons 
Big and chunky
Scan software lacks options
Can be expensive to run
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Looking for a home all-in-one that can tackle all the usual family printing tasks but also output decent photos? There’s a chance that HP’s Envy Photo 7830 might just be right up your street. Along with the basic print, scan and copy capabilities you’ll find in HP’s DeskJet, OfficeJet and Envy printers, it packs in a dedicated photo paper tray along with the promise of authentic colours and lifelike detail from professional quality photo inks.

What’s more, it’s a printer that’s at home with smartphone printing, with Bluetooth and NFC pairing plus photo printing direct from the cloud or HP’s smartphone app. Of course, printing photos might seem like something nobody does anymore, but it’s still a big thing for homework, filling non-digital photoframes and sending snaps to those who aren’t au-fait with photo-sharing services and apps. Any printer that can do it well and cost-effectively deserves a little extra credit.

HP Envy Photo 7830: Design and Setup

The Envy Photo 7830 doesn’t make a great first impression, just because it’s unusually big by home printer standards. When even office printers are beginning to look stylish and compact, the Envy Photo’s 46 x 43cm desktop footprint seems massive, and that’s not helped by its 20cm height. And while it’s hard to grumble about the 7.58Kg weight when most of it feels rock-solid, that’s not the case across the construction. The chunky auto-document feeder at the top of our review sample fell off at one point during testing when we opened the lid, and while said review sample appears to have been all around the houses, this still doesn’t inspire confidence overall.

There are, however, some aspects of the design that we really like. You can cram up to 125 sheets of A4 into the main input tray, where it’s kept out of harm’s way inside a touch, curved cartridge. The photo input tray fits on top of this, fitting up to 15 6x4in photo paper sheets. This in turn is protected by a lid which doubles as an output tray, and instead of the usual, flimsy fold-out extender the Envy Photo 7830 has a sort of weird, tough plastic tongue which slides out automatically before printing then pushes neatly back into place when no longer in use.

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The USB Type-B, 100Mbit Ethernet and fax modem sockets sit just where you’d expect them at the rear, while a USB Type-A port and an SD card slot are concealed behind a revolving circular flap near the front-left corner. There they’re handy for printing out photos direct from a card or USB memory stick.

One thing we’re not so keen on is the touchscreen controls. Now, the 2.65in capacitive screen on the Envy Photo is a lot easier to use and more responsive than the old-school resistive horrors you used to find on HP’s all-in-ones, but it’s still not great. Typing in a wi-fi password on a tiny onscreen keyboard is no picnic while swiping through the icons left to right can be frustrating. Trying to tap settings options in the top quarter of the screen often seems to take two or three tries. Physical buttons can be unsightly, but at times they just work better.

Credit where credit’s due, though; HP does have one of the best smartphone printer companion apps in the business. You can print photos directly from your phone or the Photos/Gallery app, or even from social networks and cloud services, including Dropbox, Instagram, Facebook, Google Drive and Google Photos. You can also scan and email documents without turning on your PC It would be great to have the option to print multiple photos on a single sheet, but otherwise the whole app is easy to use and very functional, including options to track and order ink whether or not you feel like signing on to HP’s Instant Ink programme.

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HP Envy Photo 7830 review: Performance

Speeds are surprisingly good for a home rather than home office printer, with the Envy Photo printing out black text documents at 16ppm and colour documents with inlaid graphics at 4.7ppm. Even printing text documents in duplex – itself a rare feat for a home printer – it reached speeds of 7ppm. Impressively, it’s also quick to spit the first page out, managing it in 18.5 seconds with a 24 page document and 33 seconds with the more complex, colour job.

It’s just as nippy on its home turf, colour photos. A 10x8in print arrived in 95.25 seconds while a 6x4in print emerged in just 19 seconds. An A4 scan took just 17.49 seconds, while a 4-page scan to PDF job took 81.34 seconds to make it through the ADF. A colour copy took a mere 28 seconds. That’s really not bad for a mainstream home printer.

Testing did throw up some oddities in the drivers and the scanner software, though. With the latter, HP has prioritised ease-of-use over all else, with the result that you can’t set the resolution or colour depth of a scan, only the type of scan, which left a 10 x 8in photo scanning at just 200dpi. Detail and colour accuracy were fine, but if you’re using scans for any serious design work, this isn’t really going to cut the mustard.

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It’s a similar story when printing; you have to dive quite deep to find the options to set resolution to maximum and make sure you’re getting the best quality. True, this isn’t a device for professional photo studios – or even expert amateurs – but we’d like the options available and a little closer to the surface.

As for the print quality, there’s good news and ever-so-slightly disappointing news. On the good front, this is an impressively versatile printer. Black text looks crisp and really dark, graphics print bright without any sign of banding or the ink smearing, and whether you’re printing out homework or a draft of a small business plan, you’re going to get great results.

And on the mildly disappointing front? Photos look pretty good, but not as good as the Photo branding might lead you to expect. HP wins points for smooth tones and natural colours, but you won’t get the depth of colour or dynamic range that you’ll see from more expensive photo printers. A lot of this comes down to the inks. Despite talk of professional quality photo inks, the Envy Photo 7830 uses what looks like a pretty bog-standard tri-colour cartridge with a separate black. There are no extra photo inks or photo blacks involved, and you suspect that there’s only so much resolution and dithering can do.

Ink costs aren’t too low, either. If you buy high yield XL cartridges you’re looking at around 11p for a colour A4 page or 3.9p per black and white page. These costs aren’t horrific by low-volume, home printing standards, but you might want to hold back a little on those 8 x 10in colour photos. Alternatively, you could subscribe to HP’s Instant Ink service, where the plans start at free (for 15 pages per month) and go up to £7.99 per month (for up to 300 pages), with no difference in cost between black and white and colour prints. If you plan to print a lot, this could work out costing less.

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HP Envy Photo 7830 review:Verdict

The Envy Photo 7830 turns out to be a great all-rounder, pumping out everyday black-and-white or colour prints at decent speeds and delivering consistently good output. As a photo printer it’s more above average than awesome, but the prints still look good enough for quick snaps, filling photo frames and general family use. It’s not hard to find other inkjets that beat the 7830 in specific areas, with our recommended mid-range all-in-one, the Epson Expression Premium XP-6100, beating it for both scans and photos. The 7830 isn’t quite of the same calibre, but it’s a strong, very affordable alternative.