HP Envy100 e-All-in-One MFP

Hewlett Packard Co.‘s (NYSE: HPQ) Envy100 e-All-in-One colour inkjet multifunction printer (for printing, copying, and scanning) makes being decorative a higher priority than being useful. Created with the same stylistic flair as HP’s like-named laptops, such as the Envy 17, the Envy100 gets green points for being free of PVC plastic and for having ink cartridges made with recycled materials. Unfortunately, the US$250 price (as of November 30, 2010) does not buy you decent speed or cheap inks. Aesthetically pleasing rivals include the Epson Artisan 725 and the Canon Pixma MG8120.

Predominantly shiny black with silvery accents, and low-slung (just 4 inches high), the Envy100 e-All-in-One will blend easily into any modern décor. Turn it on, and you’ll see its 3.45-inch colour touchscreen LCD and touch-sensitive controls gleaming at you from the front panel. The panel is supposed to tilt up and down automatically during operation, but on our unit, this feature sometimes stalled. HP is working on a firmware fix for the inconsistency.

Looks aside, the Envy100 is suitable for light use. An 80-sheet, letter/A4-size input drawer pulls out from the front. A narrow plastic output arm swings out to catch printed pages (up to 25 sheets) and retracts after you remove them. Automatic duplexing (printing on both sides of the page) is standard for both the PC and Mac. The letter/A4-size flatbed scanner has a glass cover with an eye-catching finish that graduates from pure black to mirror. A discreet door covers a USB/PictBridge port and a media-card slot that takes MultiMediaCard, Memory Stick, and SD Card media. HP’s numerous Web apps are available through this machine, if you give it access to the Internet.

The Envy100’s minimalist approach went a bit too far with the documentation: The lack of printed setup help invites confusion, though detailed instructions are available from HP’s Website. The HTML-based user guide leans heavily on animated how-to’s, which might explain why the written instructions can be vague.

No one is likely to buy the Envy100 for its speed. Plain-text pages plodded out at rates of about 4.8 pages per minute on the PC and 4.6 ppm on the Mac. Photos struggled, too: snapshot-size images appeared at a rate of 1.6 ppm on the PC, and our 22MB professional photo took just over 3 minutes to print on the Mac. Normal scans and copies posted middling times.

Print quality is generally good. Text on plain paper looked crisp, though dark gray rather than black. Photos printed on plain paper looked a little faded and grainy; HP’s own glossy stock smoothed out most of the problems. Our full-colour copy test on plain paper yielded a fairly accurate, albeit grainy, reproduction. Colour scans looked somewhat yellowish and hazy.

One thing your neighbors won’t envy is this MFP’s high ink costs. The standard-size cartridges include a 200-page black for $15 (7.5 cents per page) and a 165-page unified tricolour for $20 (12.1 cents per page). The high-yield cartridges include a 600-page black for $35 (5.8 cents per page) and a 440-page unified tricolour for $41 (9.3 cents per page). A page printed in all four colours would cost 19.6 cents with the standard-size cartridges and 15.1 cents with the high-yield cartridges.

The Envy100 e-All-in-One looks better than it works, but the fashion-forward users who are likely to consider this model probably have similar priorities. You can find other cool-looking models whose inks aren’t quite so pricey, however.

PC World (US)

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