The good news about the $100 (as of February 17, 2012) HP Photosmart 5510 e-All-in-One color inkjet multifunction printer (copy/print/scan) is that it looks great in a small or home office, produces very good output, and is exceptionally easy to set up and use. The bad news is that HP has paired it with a feature-deprived driver that doesn’t even help with manual duplexing. As James Coburn said to Mel Gibson in the movie Payback, “That’s just plain mean.” Not to mention environmentally irresponsible.
The Photosmart 5510 is like its cousins–the Photosmart 6510 and the Photosmart 7510–in that it provides a color LCD touchscreen with contextually lit buttons that you use to control the machine’s functions. The touchscreen gives the unit a very modern look and makes it very easy to use.
Paper handling is rudimentary: A flip-out front panel reveals an open bay with an 80-sheet input area. Output falls into the same space, with a cleverly designed catch that swivels outward. There’s no automatic duplexing, and there’s no automatic document feeder (ADF) to go with the A4/letter-size scanner. The scanner lid doesn’t telescope to accommodate thicker items such as books.
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HP omitted a number of software features from the Photosmart 5510’s driver. You can print and scan, but you can’t specify layout options such as booklet, poster, or multiple reduced-size pages on a single sheet. Worst of all, this MFP doesn’t support manual duplex printing. One round of printing the odd-page sheets in a batch, turning them over, orienting them correctly, and then printing the even-number sheets–will have most users ruing the day they bought this unit. On the other hand, advanced features such as push scanning (scanning to a PC using the printer’s control panel) and printing via email using HP’s ePrint are included. Go figure. You may also print photos from Secure Digital or MultiMediaCard memory cards inserted into a front slot.
The Photosmart 5510 prints normal, single-sided pages quickly. Text pages emerged at 9 pages per minute on the PC and 8.5 ppm on the Mac. Snapshot-size photos printed to plain paper at about 4 ppm and to glossy photo paper at just under 1.9 ppm. Print speeds for full-page photos printed on the Mac were a little slower than average at 0.4 ppm. The Photosmart 5510 produced very fast, and very nice-looking, draft-mode documents. Scans were reasonably fast as well.
The Photosmart 5510’s looked good when it arrived, too. Though a tad on the light side, photos had a realistic color palette on both plain and glossy photo paper. Text looked dark, crisp, and sharp. Scans had a slightly cool temperature and exhibited minor banding issues, but overall they were more than acceptable.
The Photosmart 5510’s replacement ink costs are about average. The standard black cartridge costs $12 and lasts for 250 pages (which works out to 4.8 cents per page), while the standard cyan, magenta, and yellow color cartridges cost $10 each and last for 300 pages (3.33 cents per color per page). The resulting 15-cent four-color page is a tad pricier than average. You can lower the color ink costs by using XL cartridges, which cost $18 and last for 750 pages (that’s 2.4 cents per color per page–almost a cent per page cheaper for each color. The $23 XL black has a less dramatic effect on expenses: It lasts for just 550 pages and costs 4.2 cents per page–only 0.6 cent cheaper per page than the standard black cartridge.
Removing software features that already exist, cost nothing, and save time and paper is misguided–and that’s by far the kindest adjective I could think of. Hopefully, HP will rethink this decision and I’ll be able to recommend the Photosmart 5510 as the bargain it should be. In the meantime, I’ll call it the Photodumb and recommend that you opt instead for a basic inkjet MFP that carries a more helpful, environmentally responsible driver–the Epson Stylus NX430, say, or the Brother MFC-J430w. Or check out the otherwise identical HP Photosmart 5514, which includes an auto-duplexer for only $20 more.