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HP Envy 5540 review

Front right view, HP Envy 5540
Our Rating :
Price when reviewed : £79
inc VAT

Another adequate, but unenviable, inkjet MFP – the Envy 5540 is a workhorse, nothing more

HP’s Envy printer range usually combines smart product design and useful features with affordable home prices. That’s certainly true of the Envy 5540: it’s a compact and attractive inkjet multifunction peripheral (MFP) with a touchscreen, automatic duplex (double-sided) printing, and support for the latest mobile printing and cloud-based services. It connects to a single PC via USB, or to a wireless network. There’s no fax, and no wired Ethernet port, though few home users would want one.

This printer uses cartridges with integrated print heads, so there’s no waiting for the ink system to prime itself before you start using it. That said, we had to remove and re-insert the tri-colour cartridge before it was happy to proceed. In the base there’s a captive 125-page A4 paper tray, with a 6×4″ photo tray above it. Although the latter is rated for up to 15 sheets, the printer struggled to pick the top of 10 sheets – we had to unload three or four before photos would print.

Front view, HP Envy 5540

We like the simple, strong output tray, which extends automatically when you start printing. It’s a shame that HP hasn’t fitted the Envy 5540 with a colour screen, but its mono touchscreen is otherwise up to the company’s usual high standards. Its tap and swipe gestures will feel immediately familiar to anyone who’s used a smartphone, while the menu system itself couldn’t really be more intuitive.

HP’s Android app is fine, but our oft-repeated criticisms of its PC software remain true here; everything is over-simplified. The print interface, for example, relegates everyday choices such as paper size to the Advanced Options page, while the TWAIN scan interface doesn’t include any advanced options such as de-screening (removing patterns from scans of printed material), or even a free choice of resolution. At higher resolutions, scans contain artefacts, suggesting that they’ve been sharpened – there’s no facility to turn this off. At least, unlike some recent HP MFPs, this one could scan properly at 1,200dpi.

The main tab on the print interface is too simple: you’ll need these advanced options quite often

What can we say about HP’s scan interface that we haven’t said before? Looks good, isn’t good.

Tested over a USB connection this is a fast enough printer, reaching 11.5 pages per minute (ppm) on our formal letter test, and nudging up to 12.7ppm at draft quality. At 4ppm, colour speed was also fairly good. Scan speeds were less impressive, however, with a preview needing 22 seconds, a 300dpi A4 scan taking 25s, and our 1,200dpi photo scan almost three minutes. A4 photocopies were tardy, needing 24 seconds in black, or 37 in colour. Scan quality was fine, sharpening aside, while plain paper print and photocopy quality was very good. Photos were unimpressive on HP’s Premium Plus paper, however, with dark colours lacking in saturation.

 Instant ink works out fairly cheap, and takes the hassle out of supplies

The Envy 5540 is compatible with HP’s Instant Ink system, where you pay a monthly subscription and have ink cartridges delivered automatically as you need them. It’s a smart idea, and provided you choose the correct plan it should offer savings on the 7.4p per page cost of buying XL cartridges yourself. All the same, we’d give the 5540 a miss: Canon’s PIXMA MG6650 costs about the same, and has it beaten in almost all regards.

TechnologyThermal inkjet
Maximum print resolution4,800×1,200dpi
Maximum optical scan resolution (output bit depth)1,200×1,200dpi
Number of colours (cartridges)4 (2)
Maximum number of colours (cartridges)4 (2)
Quoted photo durability (source)Not stated
Standard interfacesUSB, 802.11b/g/n wireless
Optional interfacesNone
Dimensions (HxWxD)156x454x410mm
Duty cycle (pages per month)1,000 maximum, 400 recommended
Paper handling
Maximum paper sizeA4/legal
Maximum paper weight300gsm
Standard paper trays (capacity)2 (140)
Maximum paper trays (capacity)2 (140)
Photo features
Borderless printingA4
Direct (PC-less) printingNo
Memory card supportNone
Supported operating systemsWindows Vista or later, Mac OS X 10.7 or later, Android, iOS, BlackBerry, Windows RT, Windows 10 Mobile
Other features5.5cm mono touchscreen
Buying information
WarrantyOne year RTB
Price£79 inc VAT
Consumable parts and prices62XL black cartridge, 600 pages (ISO/IEC 24712) £17, 62XL colour cartridge, 415 pages (ISO/IEC 24712) £19
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 VAT7.4p
Cost per ISO/IEC 24712 A4 page inc VAT (colour part)4.7p
Cost per ISO/IEC 24712 A4 page inc VAT (mono part)2.8p
Part codeJ6U66A