HP ENVY100 e-All-in-One (D410a)
Easy setup; nice design; AirPrint support; some interesting apps
Quite big; slow printing; touchscreen is difficult to use
With iOS 4.2’s release last week, we thought it a perfect time to try out one of HP’s new ePrint enabled printers (that’s HP’s fancy marketing term) which means you can print directly to them using AirPrint (Apple’s fancy marketing term) via Wi-Fi on an iPhone or iPad.
We got our hands on the ENVY 100 – one of the five-or-so new printers that support AirPrint, and have been very impressed by the ease of use. It also looks great and has a load of other handy features.
The ENVY is aptly named – as it’s the only printer in recent memory that I’ve really thought to be good looking. That said, it might be a bit too shiny for some, and despite having a very low profile, it’s a big printer. But it packs in a flatbed scanner too, so we can forgive it some of the bulk.
The printer features a self-tilting touchscreen display that rotates upwards when printing to allow a paper tray to swivel out and catch your document. It’s a nice touch to make the printer worth its $399 pricetag, but I can’t help feeling that with all those moving parts, something is bound to stop moving one day.
This was hands-down the easiest printer I’ve ever set up. The touchscreen on the printer made it simple to go through the steps – it displayed the directions as it progressed through the (short) process – and entering a wireless password directly meant it jumped on the Wi-Fi network before I even attached it to a Mac.
After that was done, and the print cartridges and paper were in, printing from an iPhone or iPad was immediate. Just hit print (in the apps that support it), and out it pops. It really does make the iPad (and iPhone) that little bit more magical. (More on that later.)
In fact, it took a lot longer to set up on the Mac – though this was still straightforward. I just went to print a Word document, selected the ENVY from the Nearby Printers list, and downloaded and installed the software. (It’s also included on a CD, if you don’t have great internet access.) The download and installation took only a few minutes, and the document printed.
It’s not just the looks and setup department where the ENVY is attempting to win your heart; it’s also got a bunch of apps that promise to make printing more exciting. Unfortunately, they don’t really deliver.
Yes, HP has jumped on the app bandwagon, with built-in and downloadable programs that will let you print a Sudoku, access your Facebook photos, get Bing driving directions, or even handy travel guides, all from the little touchscreen on the printer.
The Facebook app was easy to get going – just install, go to facebook.com/devices (on your Mac or iPhone) and enter the code that the printer displays. Then you’ll have access to all your photos for easy printing straight from the net. The quality’s not great, but it’s fine for a standard photo sized print.
Bing maps was less useful, crashing a number of times, and I accidentally shut down the printer twice while trying to type an address (on the laggy virtual keyboard) when my arm accidentally brushed my power button. While the idea is brilliant in theory, the hardware just isn’t up to scratch to fully support it.
Whether you find a great app for the ENVY or not, it’s likely that whatever it does is easier from your Mac. And once AirPrint gets some more support, it’ll be even better on your iPhone or iPad. The touchscreen just isn’t up to a lot of input – although it’s great for setting up and changing some preferences, swiping through photo albums and entering addresses via the keyboard just didn’t feel as good as I wanted it to (I sometimes had to wait a second between entering characters).
App gimmickry aside, the ENVY does a good – but not great – job of printing your documents and images. Colours aren’t as vivid as other printers, but blacks are fine, with very clear and readable text. It’s also relatively slow for colour printing, though black and white is on par with other inkjets.
The ENVY uses a single colour cartridge, meaning you’ll have to replace it once one colour is used up, or print only in magenta until it’s finished. Though that might not be an issue if you’re not doing a lot of colour printing.
In terms of scanning, the story is the same: the ENVY does a good job, but it’s quality won’t blow you away. It’s perfect for occasional use such as scanning in photos and the odd document, but if you’re hoping for exceptionally clear high-res scans, or fast document scanning, the ENVY isn’t for you.
Printing from iOS
Printing from iOS is, like doing most things on iOS, simple. For example, when viewing a PDF attachment in Mail on an iPhone, it’s a matter of choosing the ‘send to’ button in the top right corner, and selecting ‘Print’, and choosing the ENVY from the list. Within a few seconds, the printer starts printing. The only issue I found was that if the printer was asleep, iOS wouldn’t always find it (but the same was true with the Mac).
Comparing documents printed on the Mac with those printed from iOS, there were a few minor formatting differences, but these were negligible. If you’re interested in printing from an iPhone or iPad, this (and the other ePrint options from HP) is a great way to do it.
Printing by email
The ENVY is supposed to let you print via email – when you set it up, it provides an address, and all you have to do is send your documents there. I tried this a number of times, but couldn’t get it to work. Resetting the address (and allocating another) didn’t fix the problem, so I gave up. This could equally have been an issue with my email system or with the printer. Either way, it wasn’t a straightforward process, and if you think you’ll be reliant on being able to email documents to print (or allowing others to email them), then there’s a chance that the function won’t work as expected.
Australian Macworld’s buying advice
If it weren’t for the ENVY’s AirPrint abilities, I’d find it pretty hard to recommend – it’s a solidly built, good-looking printer, but sadly, the performance is akin to other inkjets that sell for around the $100 mark, meaning you’re paying a premium for the ePrint abilities, those good looks and the gimmicky apps.
If all you need is a printer to support AirPrint, there are cheaper HP models with the feature (or you can use Printopia for Mac to share your existing printer). But the ENVY is still a solid multifunction option if you need the printer to look good alongside your Mac, or ever feel the need to print from Facebook without touching a computer.