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HP Photosmart 5520 review – not the photo printer you’re looking for

Our Rating :
Price when reviewed : £70
inc VAT

Although it's a useful home printer and scanner, this MFP produces some of the worst photos we've seen

The HP Photosmart 5530 is a neat-looking and relatively low-cost option for photo printing, but as we discovered, low prices and high-quality prints don’t exactly go hand in hand. It has just four ink colours, and although it’s one of HP’s cheaper printers, there are individual cartridges for each. These slot into the print head, which has integrated print nozzles.

The combination of individual tanks and a print head that’s built into the printer rather than the ink cartridges means that you don’t have to worry about replacing ink unnecessarily simply because one colour has run out or the nozzles have clogged. If the nozzles on the printer do block up, you can run cleaning cycles or, in extreme cases, get a replacement print head.

HP Photosmart 5520

With the ink installed and the printer switched on, you’re ready to configure it using the integrated touchscreen display. On-screen instructions can take you through loading paper into the surprisingly flimsy tray at the bottom of the printer. The tray lacks a cover and there’s no output tray – printed pages are spat out just above the stack of fresh paper, with only a thin bit of plastic to prevent them from falling off onto the table.

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To our surprise, however, this worked reasonably well to keep our multi-page print jobs in order, at least up to the 20-sheet mark. Loading 6x4in paper requires you to push it a long way into the depths of the printer’s input tray with only the paper guides to go on, or you can pull the tray out completely to load it. It’s awkward and uncomfortable, but everything stayed properly aligned.

With both paper and ink in place, the printer will align its print heads for optimal quality. After the alignment page has been printed, all you need do it place it on the platen of the integrated scanner and the MFP will do the rest of the job itself. You can also configure its wireless connection, which is essential if you want to take advantage of HP’s ePrint features to send documents to the printer via email.

HP Photosmart 5520

When you install the drivers, you’re given the option of either installing them from the disc or going online to get the latest version of the software. Annoyingly, the default software installation includes junk apps such as a Bing search bar for your browsers and software which feeds back information about how you use the product. The HP Photo Creations tool lets you use templates to turn photos into calendars and cards which you can either print or order online, but this is also of limited use. We recommend using the custom software selection option to deselect unwanted applications.

The driver has only a handful of basic settings, but if you want to configure even something as simple as borderless photo printing, you’ll have to open the Advanced tab in the paper/qualities screen. This is not very pretty to look at, but there are plenty of handy options, including a greyscale printing mode and a choice of profiles in the Colour Management pull-down. We’d have appreciated a clearer layout and more information about all the options presented.

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Basic Specifications

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

Quoted Speeds

Quoted speed, mono A411ppm
Quoted speed, colour A48ppm

Tested Print Speeds

Time for two 10x8in photos 1.04m 33s
Time for six 6x4in photos 1.06m 11s

Physical and Environmental

Standard printer interfacesUSB, 802.11n wireless
Optional printer interfacesnone
Duty cycle1,000 pages monthly maximum duty cycle

Paper Handling

Maximum paper sizeA4
Maximum paper weight300gsm
Standard paper inputs1
Standard paper input capacity80
Maximum paper inputs1
Maximum paper input capacity80
Duplex (code, cost if option)No


Printer technologythermal inkjet
Supported operating systemsWindows XP/Vista/7/8, MacOS X 10.6+
Other inkjet features6.7cm colour screen

Buying Information

Consumable parts and prices£16
Price per colour A4 page6.4p
Quoted life of supplied black cartridge250 pages (ISO/IEC 24711)
Quoted life of supplied colour cartridge(s)300 pages each (ISO/IEC 24711)
Warrantyone year RTB

Print Quality

Number of ink colours4
Number of ink cartridges4
Maximum number of ink colours4
Maximum number of cartridges4
Quoted photo durability108 years
Quoted photo durability sourceWilhelm Imaging Research

Tested Scan Speeds

Full scan area preview23s
A4 document at 150dpiN/A
A4 document at 300dpi38s
6x4in photo at 600dpi46s
6x4in photo at 1200dpi2m 37s

Tested Copy Speeds

Time for single A4 mono copy 1.018s
Time for single A4 colour copy 1.019s
Time for 10 A4 copies using feeder 2.0N/A

Photo Features

PictBridge supportNo
Borderless printingA4
Direct (PC-less) printingYes
Supported memory cardsSD, MMC, Memory Stick Duo
CD printingNo

Copy Features

Maximum number of copies50
Max mono copy resolution600x600dpi
Max colour copy resolution600x600dpi

Fax Features

Max mono fax resolutionN/A
Fax memory (maximum mono pages)N/A