All-in-one (AIO) printers are getting much more compact, even with a full complement of features. HP’s Envy 4520 packs in wireless and double-sided printing as well as printing from a phone or tablet, all in a svelte black unit.
What used to be premium business features are coming to the budget end of the market. The Envy 4520 is a small, neat, wireless all-in-one printer with double-sided printing and comprehensive tablet and phone printing options, which is impressive for the £49.99 (inc. VAT) price tag.
Setup is mostly excellent: when you turn it on, the printer asks you to pick and confirm your language and location using the small touchscreen control on the front; then you’re asked to load paper so it can print a test sheet, which it then asks you to put on the scanner to use for alignment. That’s much better than putting a pre-printed alignment sheet in the manual that many users will never find. We also love the way the printer automatically extends the arm that printouts rest on, so pages don’t tumble to the floor.
The printer also shows you the URL to visit to install the printer driver, but at this point setup becomes much more confusing because it doesn’t turn wi-fi on or remind you to do that yourself. You could connect via USB of course, but wireless printing is far more convenient. If you don’t have Wi-Fi Protected Setup (WPS), where you push a button on your router to authorise devices without typing in a password, prepare for a trip back to the days of T9 text messaging: instead of a full keyboard, HP gives you T9-style groups of letters so you have to tap the ‘abc’ button three times to type ‘c’, which is a strange interface choice these days.
After the printer is setup, you can find it on other PCs just by looking for a printer to add, at which point you can read the PIN off the printer screen to type into your PC, and the printer driver will be installed automatically.
Once the printer driver is installed, HP uses a bit more of your ink to print a sheet telling you that you need to go to the HP Connected site to activate your printer and personalise its email address. The idea is that you can email documents from a phone or tablet to print them, which is extremely useful because it means you can print a document while you’re out and have it waiting when you get back to the office (or print it remotely for a colleague). You can also print from iOS, Android, Chrome, Kindle and BlackBerry devices on the same wi-fi network as the printer, as well as from Windows devices.