A feature-packed and affordable inkjet but costs per page are high if you don’t take out a subscription to HP’s Instant Ink
- Lots of features for the price
- Decent print quality
- Attractive design
- Expensive prints - needs ink subscription
- Can’t duplex
- Lacks a screen
On the surface, the HP Envy Pro 6432 looks like an old-school case of a flashy, affordable printer that’s going to turn out to be expensive to run.
However, with a subscription to HP’s Instant Ink subscription, you should be able to temper the cost of this printer’s relatively low-yield ink cartridges.
HP Envy Pro 6432 review: What do you get for the money?
The HP Envy Pro 6432 is one part multifunction printer, one part light show. When switched on, the output tray is lit up by an LED strip, which glows different colours, depending on what state the printer is in.
This is essential, because there’s no screen to explain what’s going on. There is a control panel, though, with a simple numerical display and some backlit buttons. These buttons are invisible when not in use and light up like the deck of the Starship Enterprise when their functions are called upon.
It’s a clever system that’s relatively intuitive to work your way around, as long as nothing too complicated goes wrong. For example, if a cartridge runs out of ink, an orange light appears on the handle of the lid. Open it up and there’s another light on the inside to indicate which ink cartridge needs replacing. However, bigger problems tend to generate error codes, signified by an alternately flashing “E” and a single-digit number, which will have you scrabbling for the manual.
The rest of the design is a cool white and grey, and it’s surprisingly compact considering it incorporates a scanner and an 35-sheet automatic sheet feeder. Considering its size we were expecting it to have forfeited the ability to print on both sides of a piece of paper, so we were pleasantly surprised it can manage this. Print resolution is high, too, reaching a top 4,800 x 1,200dpi, and you can scan at 1,200 x 1,200dpi.
As for connectivity, that’s pretty standard, with USB and Wi-Fi, so you can print easily from a PC, laptop or mobile device.
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HP Envy Pro 6432 review: What about running costs?
The biggest nod to the relatively low price of the HP Envy Pro 6432 is its use of just two ink cartridges, one black and one containing three colours (cyan, magenta and yellow).
This keeps things simple but is wasteful: one of those colours is going to run out before the others and you’re going to have to replace the whole cartridge at that point or your colour printing is going to look terrible.
If you go down the traditional path of buying your own replacement cartridges, this printer is expensive to run. We worked out that, when using HP’s most efficient XL cartridges, mono prints cost 6.7p each, which is expensive for an inkjet.
Presuming all the colours in the other cartridge run down at the same rate, which is just about impossible, colour printing costs a minimum of 9p per page. Again, this is expensive. Ink capacity is also disappointing, with even the highest yield colour cartridge only managing 200 pages.
This, however, makes the HP Envy Pro 6432 a prime candidate for HP’s Instant Ink subscription service, and this model comes with a generous six-month subscription for free.
The service lets you pay as you go on a monthly basis by the number of prints you produce, rather than the number of cartridges you run through. You’re sent replacement cartridges automatically when your printer is running low, along with an envelope in which to send your old cartridge back for recycling.
When you start the free trial you have to choose which tier you want to be on, but if you find you need to print more pages you can switch up to a higher tier. Effectively, this means you can print as many pages as you like for six months, but be aware that the tier you end up on will be the one you’re charged for when your first payment is due.
Keep paying, and a subscription could dramatically reduce the running costs of this printer. The basic subscription costs 99p per month and lets you print 15 pages. You can pay more to print more pages, with monthly tiers at £1.99 (50 pages), £3.49 (100 pages), £9.99 (300 pages) and £22.49 (700 pages).
If you print more pages than you’ve paid for, you’re charged an extra 10p per page (charged in 10-page blocks of £1 each), but if you print fewer pages, you can roll over up to three times your monthly allowance, which can be used instead of paying for future excess prints. There’s no contract and you can switch between tiers at any time.
If you hit your printing targets exactly, this could push the cost of printing down to between 3.2p and 6.6p per page, depending on the tier you choose. This is regardless of whether pages are printed in colour or mono, but it you’ll still pay for failed prints as it includes any page with ink on it (regardless of size) as a full page.
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HP Envy Pro 6432 review: What are the speed and print quality like?
For the price and considering the restrictions of the cartridge technology, the HP Envy Pro 6432 produced surprisingly good photo prints. Compared with the similarly priced Epson Expression Home XP-4100, the photos were bright, vibrant and saturated with colour. Some fine detail was sacrificed in places, but the overall effect is more vivid.
We noticed a bit of banding on our colour document when printed in standard mode, but this isn’t as prominent as it is on the Epson.
Mono printing speed isn’t too shabby, reaching a rate of 13 pages per minute (ppm) in our tests. Printing in colour slows the printer right down, however, to a glacial rate of 2ppm. Duplex printing also takes its toll, slowing it further to around 1.3ppm.
HP Envy Pro 6432 review: Should you buy it?
For the price, the HP Envy Pro 6432 carries an extraordinary set of features and produces decent-quality prints. However, due to the high cost per page and the three-colour cartridge, we wouldn’t recommend it if you can afford something better.
Our favourite all-rounder at the moment is the Canon Pixma TS8350, which prints great-looking photos and documents and is available for around £120. It’s very popular, though, so stock can be patchy and tricky to track down. If your needs are mostly printing office documents, then the HP OfficeJet Pro 8022 is another good alternative.