Printing speed isn't impressive either. The Envy 5540 isn't quite as slow as some Epson models, but it's behind a lot of the competition. Our 20-page document came out at an average of 10.9ppm; Canon's Maxify MB5350 managed more consistent print quality at 16ppm. The Envy is perfectly fast enough for occasional personal use, but it doesn't offer the sort of exceptional speed that might excuse a degree of text distortion.
Our scanning tests went much better. Colour and contrast were excellent, and just the right amount of sharpening was applied to make pages look crisp but not too spiky. Even better was the speed at which everything happened: greyscale documents scanned at 200ppi whizzed over the network in ten seconds flat, and even at 300ppi a full colour A4 scan was completed in 22 seconds. It's frustrating that HP hasn't included an ADF, or the Envy 5540 would be a great way to digitise a large collection of documents for a very low price. As it is, you'll have to step up to the 100 Envy 7640 if you want multi-page scanning.
Our biggest irritation with the Envy is that it takes just two cartridges - one regular black supply and one combined tri-colour cartridge. This really isn't an efficient way to do things: as soon as any one colour runs out, the entire cartridge must be replaced. In fairness, you can switch to black-only mode until you get a new one, so you're not left unable to print. And the cartridges themselves aren't ruinously expensive: 8.8p per colour page is still cheaper than any laser, and a better deal than the Epson WorkForce WF-2630.
All the same, the low capacity of these tri-colour cartridges (they're rated for just 415 pages) means you'll be switching cartridges, and throwing out good ink, with infuriating frequency. Black-and-white printing costs, meanwhile, are much less competitive, coming out at 3.5p per monochrome page.
On paper, the HP Envy 5540 looks like a stylish and capable printer for a fantastic price. But print quality and speed don't match the confidence of the design, and the value proposition gets worse and worse the more you print.
This review originally appeared in PC PRO issue 262
On paper, the HP Envy 5540 looks like a stylish and capable printer for a fantastic price. But print quality and speed don’t match the confidence of the design, and the value proposition gets worse and worse the more you print.Share on FacebookShare on TwitterShare on LinkedInShare via EmailFeatured Resources
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