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HP Photosmart 5520 review - not the photo printer you're looking for

Kat Orphanides
21 Jun 2016
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

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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.