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HP Envy 5640 review

Simon Handby
6 Jan 2015
Our Rating 
Price when reviewed 
90
inc VAT

It looks great, but HP's expensive Envy 5640 MFP disappoints on several fronts

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HP's Envy 5640 is an inkjet multifunction peripheral (MFP) that can print, scan and copy, but not send faxes. Aimed at home users, it's as good looking as other Envy models, with a curved front that reminds us of a high-speed train. There's very little clutter; other than a power button, the printer is controlled entirely via a medium-sized colour touchscreen that's simply excellent. The SD memory card port is hidden behind a neat revolving door, while the paper supply is tidied away in two fully enclosed trays - one for A4 and one for 6x4" photos. Photo paper is selected automatically when you need it and the paper output tray glides out when you start printing.

This is a well-specified MFP, capable of printing automatically to both sides of each sheet of paper (duplexing). It feels expensive, too, with nice touches such as the ultra-secure hinges, which hold up the scanner bed when you need to change ink cartridges or remove a paper jam. The Envy 5640 has no wired Ethernet port, but Wi-Fi makes it ideal for sharing between everyone in the house, whether they're using computers or mobile devices.

While there’s a lot to like about the MFP itself, we're less enthused about its PC software. For unfathomable reasons, HP's setup program offers to install Google's Chrome browser and toolbar, and like other printers it defaults to sending usage data over the internet. Once installed, both the print driver and TWAIN scan interface are great if you only ever want the most basic options, but both prove oversimplified otherwise. This is particularly true of the scan interface, which misses basic features such as auto-marquee, auto-exposure and any control over sharpness. It's far inferior to equivalents from Canon and Epson. 

Manufacturers often ship printers with modest ink supplies, and the Envy 5640 has cartridges rated for just 200 black and 165 colour pages. While we're used to seeing low ink warnings in our tests, this was the first printer ever to start with new cartridges and actually run out, by which point the spent colour cartridge had printed 39 graphics-rich pages, three 10x8" photos, seven 6x4" photos, a colour photocopy and two test and configuration pages. Despite this disappointment, at around 8.6p per page, ongoing ink costs are reasonable if you stick to the high-capacity cartridges. 

This is a fairly swift printer, and it produces excellent text and graphics on plain paper, and adequate photos on coated paper. Scans, however, were a touch slow even over USB, and images looked artificial at higher resolutions. This was especially true at the maximum 1,200 dots per inch: scanning a 6x4" photo took more than two minutes, and for reasons we couldn't establish the resulting image was completely black. There were no problems once we’d dropped the resolution slightly.

While the Envy 5640 looks and feels lovely, it's quite disappointing. We'd much rather save £15 or so and buy Canon's similarly specified PIXMA MG5650.

Hardware
TechnologyThermal inkjet
Maximum print resolution4,800x1,200dpi
Maximum optical scan resolution (output bit depth)1,200x1,200dpi (24-bit)
Number of colours (cartridges)4 (2)
Maximum number of colours (cartridges)4 (2)
Quoted photo durability (source)50+ years (HP)
Standard interfacesUSB, 802.11b/g/n wireless
Optional interfacesNone
Dimensions (HxWxD)161x454x410mm
Weight6.8kg
Duty cycle (pages per month)1,000 (maximum), 300-400 (recommended) pages per month
Paper handling
Maximum paper sizeA4/legal
Maximum paper weight250gsm
Standard paper trays (capacity)2 (125 + 15)
Maximum paper trays (capacity)2 (125 + 15)
DuplexYes
35N/A
Photo features
Borderless printingYes, A4
Direct (PC-less) printingWi-Fi Direct, memory card
Memory card supportSDXC
Supported operating systemsWindows Vista or later, Mac OS X 10.7 or later, Android, iOS, BlackBerry, Windows RT
Other features6.7cm colour touchscreen
Buying information
WarrantyOne-year RTB
Price£90 inc VAT
Consumable parts and pricesHP 62XL black cartridge (600 pages ISO/IEC 24712) £20, HP 62XL colour cartridge (415 pages ISO/IEC 24712) £22
Quoted life of supplied black cartridge(s)200 pages (ISO/IEC 24712)
Quoted life of supplied colour cartridge(s)165 pages (ISO/IEC 24712)
Cost per ISO/IEC 24712 A4 page inc VAT8.6p
Cost per ISO/IEC 24712 A4 page inc VAT (colour part)5.3p
Cost per ISO/IEC 24712 A4 page inc VAT (mono part)3.3p
Supplierwww.morecomputers.com
Detailswww.hp.co.uk
Part codeB9S59A