Clearly meant for home use, the HP Envy 5540 All-in-One Printer ($129.99) doesn't offer the office-oriented features you'd want in even in a home officemultifunction printer (MFP), like fax capability or an automatic document feeder (ADF) for scanning. However, it goes beyond the basics for an inkjet MFP for the home, with mobile printing, Web-connected features, and connectivity options that include Wi-Fi and Wi-Fi Direct. In our tests, it was a little slow for printing from business applications, but it was fast for photos, making it well-suited for home use.
Of course, virtually any inkjet, including the 5540 ( at Amazon Canada) can be used in a home office if your print needs are sufficiently light. However, you can get printers for the same price or less that are much better suited to the task. The Brother MFC-J470DW ( at Amazon Canada) , for example, is our Editors' Choice for moderately priced inkjet MFPs and includes faxing and an ADF. The one unarguable advantage the 5540 has over the Brother model is that it's a little faster for printing photos.Our Experts Have Tested 53 Products in the Printers Category in the Past YearSince 1982, PCMag has tested and rated thousands of products to help you make better buying decisions. (See how we test.)
BasicsBasic MFP features for the 5540 are limited to printing, copying, and scanning. In addition, the 2.2-inch front-panel touch-screen LCD offers a menu that lets you print an assortment of templates stored in the printer, including graph paper and music paper.
The connection options for the 5540 are USB, Wi-Fi, and Wi-Fi Direct. If you connect via Wi-Fi to a network that's connected to the Internet, you can use the touch-screen menus for HP's print apps, which let you print from an assortment of Web sites. Among the most popular, according to HP, are the choices for printing crossword puzzles, Disney coloring book pages, and a seven-day menu planner.2.5Fair $99.99See Itat EpsonRead Our Epson Expression Home XP-420 Small-in-One Review 2.5Fair $99.89Check Stockat AmazonRead Our HP Envy 4520 All-in-One Printer Review 4.0Excellent $450.00See Itat AmazonRead Our Brother MFC-J470DW Review4.0Excellent Read Our Dell C3765dnf Color Laser Printer Review 4.5Outstanding $1,959.38See Itat AmazonRead Our Dell B3465dnf Multifunction Laser Printer Review 4.0Excellent $1,329.00See Itat AmazonRead Our Brother MFC-J6920DW Review 4.5Outstanding $2,199.99See Itat AmazonRead Our Xerox WorkCentre 3615/DN Review 4.0Excellent$1,266.31See Itat AmazonRead Our Canon imageClass MF6160dw Review 4.0ExcellentCheck Stockat AmazonRead Our HP Officejet Pro 8620 e-All-in-One Review4.0Excellent $299.99See Itat EpsonRead Our Epson WorkForce Pro WF-5620 Review 4.0Excellent $689.99 See Itat AmazonRead Our Canon imageClass MF227dw Review 4.0Excellent$259.68Check Stockat WalmartRead Our Brother MFC-J5720DW Review 4.0ExcellentCheck Stockat AmazonRead Our HP Color LaserJet Pro MFP M277dw Review
Connecting to a network also lets you print through the cloud (assuming the network is connected to the Internet), as well as print to and scan from a mobile device through an access point on the network, using an iOS, Android, Windows, or Blackberry smartphone or tablet.
If you use a USB connection to a single PC instead, you'll lose the ability to print though the cloud and the ability to use HP's print apps, but you can still take advantage of the printer's Wi-Fi Direct to connect directly to the printer from a mobile device to print and scan.
Paper handling for the 5540 is a mixed bag, but a definitive a step up from the less expensive HP Envy 4520 e-All-in-One ( at Amazon Canada) that I recently reviewed. Both include a duplexer, but the 5540's 125-sheet input tray offers a boost in capacity from the HP 4520's 100 sheets. Even better is the 15-sheet, 4-by-6-inch photo tray that the less expensive model lacks, so you can switch between printing on plain paper and photo paper without having to swap out paper in the main tray each time. Paper handling for scanning—with both models—is limited to manually placing pages one at a time on the letter-size flatbed.
SetupAt 6.1 by 17.9 by 16.1 inches (HWD) and only 15 pounds, the 5540 is small and light enough for one person to easily move into place. For my tests, I connected it by USB cable to a system running Windows Vista.
Physical setup is standard. Installing the drivers and other software is a little unusual for printers in general, but it's the approach HP expects to be using for inkjets for the foreseeable future. The Start Here booklet tells you to go to the HP website where "HP will guide you through...your printer setup." Unfortunately, the webpage is a general installation page, rather than one that's specific for the printer, and when I tried searching for the HP Envy 5540, the site didn't respond. HP says this was only because the printer was not yet available when I tested it, and the website should be ready for it by the time you read this. To actually install the software, I took the alternate route of installing from the distribution disc that comes with the printer.
Speed and QualityThe 5540's speed is lackadaisical at best for business applications, but fast for photos. On our business applications suite (timed with QualityLogic's hardware and software), it managed only 2.1 pages per minute (ppm). That makes it faster than the HP 4520, which turned in a remarkably slow 1.4ppm, but not even half as fast as the Brother MFC-J470DW, which I timed at 4.9ppm.
On the other hand, photo speed is dramatically faster relative to the competition, with the 5540 averaging 53 seconds for a 4-by-6-inch print in my tests. That makes it a touch faster than the Brother MFC-J470DW and the HP 4520, which both came in at about 60 seconds, and a lot faster than some other competitors, including theEpson Expression Home XP-420 Small-in-One ( at Amazon Canada) , which averaged 2 minutes 13 seconds per photo.
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Output quality is typical for an inkjet MFP across the board. Text quality falls in the middle of the range that includes the vast majority of inkjets, making it good enough for most home needs, as long as you don't need unusually small fonts.
Graphics output is at the bottom of a much tighter range that also includes the vast majority of inkjet MFPs. It's easily suitable for most casual home use, and even good enough so most people would also consider it acceptable for business PowerPoint presentations and the like. As with most inkjets today, photos are a match for typical drugstore prints.
About HP Instant InkLike the HP Envy 4520, the 5540 can take advantage of HP's Instant Ink program. At $2.99 to $9.99 per month, the Instant Ink plans work a little like a cell phone plan, in that they let you print some number of pages per month for a fixed fee, charge extra for additional pages, and limit the number of pages you can roll over if you don't use them.
You can skip the Instant Ink plan and buy cartridges as needed. However, HP claims that being on the plan can cut your running cost in half. The catch is that the claim assumes you print exactly the number of pages you pay for. If you sign up for, say, the $2.99 per month plan and print the 50 pages you're entitled to, you'll spend 6 cents per page. Print three pages, and you'll spend $1.00 per page. Print 51 pages, and you'll spend 6 cents each for the first 50, plus another $1 for the fifty-first.
You have the option to go off and back on the Instant Ink plan, as well as switch between plans, at any time. But if you forget to opt out when you don't expect to print much—if you're taking a vacation, for example—you'll still be paying the full fare.
Complicating matters further is the fact that pages under the Instant Ink program are defined differently than the pages companies have in mind when they quote cartridge yields. When HP and most other companies today say that a given cartridge will print 100 pages, for example, it's basing the yield on a specific image defined in an ISO/IEC specification. When HP says that you can print 50 pages per month on the Instant Ink program, however, it's talking about a literal 50 pages. Whether you print a single period on the page or cover it edge to edge in ink, it counts as a page (with two-sided pages counting as two). All this makes it hard to compare running costs with the Instant Ink plan to running costs without it, much less make a comparison to the running costs for competing printers. The best you can do is keep the differences in mind and consider the cost carefully before you sign on.
One of the selling points for the Instant Ink plan is that the printer monitors ink levels and automatically orders more ink before you run out, so the new cartridges arrive before you need them. But if your printing needs fluctuate so that you print almost nothing for most of a month, and cram a lot of pages into just one or two days, you can easily run the cartridges dry in one heavy-duty print day, and still wind up out of ink.
A related issue is that HP tries hard to get you sign up for Instant Ink both when you install the printer and every time you change ink cartridges, with reminders on the printer's front panel LCD. If you have no interest in signing up for one of the Instant Ink plans, the reminders can turn into a decidedly minor, but repeating, annoyance.
ConclusionIf you need a printer for a home office, or for the dual role of home and home-office printer, take a look at the Brother MFC-J470DW, which is not only faster than the HP Envy 5540 All-in-One Printer for business applications, but includes an ADF and fax capability. That said, consider the 5540 if you don't need these office-centric features and can make good use of the 5540's Wi-Fi Direct support, or you find the HP Instant Ink program attractive for its promise of a known running cost per month and automatic delivery of ink before you need it.3.0Check Stock$389.99 at AmazonMSRP $129.99View MoreView More
Designed as an inkjet multifunction printer primarily for home use, the HP Envy 5540 All-in-One Printer can print, scan, copy, print through the cloud, and print directly from mobile devices.
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