HP Envy 5540 review

Costing less than £80, the Envy 5540 provides a printer, scanner and copier in a compact unit that measures just 156mm high, 454mm wide and 410mm deep. The black plastic box doesn’t look particularly exciting, but HP has managed to squeeze in two paper trays – the main tray holds 125 sheets of A4, and there’s a second tray that can accept 15 sheets of 10x15cm postcard paper, so you can switch between photos and conventional documents without having to remove and replace the paper.

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There's a USB port, but we imagine most people will prefer the convenience of the built-in Wi-Fi, which supports Apple’s AirPrint for iOS devices. There are mobile printing apps available for Android, Windows and Chromebook devices, too.

It even manages to include automatic double-sided printing, which is relatively unusual for a printer in this price range.

HP Envy 5540 review: Performance

Print quality is very good, with smooth, sharp text and graphics that will meet the needs of people who work from home, or students who need smart presentation for reports or essays. It’s not all that fast though. The Envy 5540 manages a respectable 10 pages per minute for text documents, but text and graphics pages were more sluggish at around 4ppm.

Photo prints also came out very well when using glossy photo paper, and took a reasonable 65 seconds for a postcard print. However, the Envy only prints with four coloured inks – cyan, magenta, yellow and black – so serious photographers may prefer to opt for a dedicated photo printer that uses additional inks.

Low cost printers such as this often come with a sting in the tail, in the form of very expensive replacement ink cartridges, However, calculating running costs for the Envy 5540 is complicated by the fact that the printer offers both standard and high-yield XL-size cartridges, as well as three different subscription options for HP’s Instant Ink scheme.

The standard-size black ink cartridge costs £10 and lasts for just 200 pages of mono text, while the three-colour ink cartridge costs £15 and manages only 165 pages. That works out at a hefty 5p per page for mono and 9.1p for colour. The XL cartridges are a little better – both cartridges cost £20, and you’ll get 600 pages from the black cartridge and 415 from the colour cartridge. That brings the cost of mono printing down to 3.3p per page – which is still fairly high – while colour printing comes down to a quite reasonable 4.8p.

The Instant Ink scheme is a bit of a mixed bag. The three subscription levels that are available start at £1.99 per month for 50 pages – which works out at a flat rate of 4p per page, for both colour and mono printing (and the Envy 5540 will automatically order new ink to be sent in the post when it starts to run out). There are also subscriptions available for £3.49 (100 pages per month), and £7.99 (300 pages per month), which give you costs of 3.5p per page and 2.7p per page respectively. If you’re printing a lot of colour documents or photos then those prices are great, but they’re still relatively high if you mainly print lots of simple text documents.
 

 

HP Envy 5540: Specs

  • 4-colour (CMYK) inkjet printer
  • print resolution – 1200x1200dpi
  • scanner resolution – 1200dpi
  • connectivity – wifi, USB, Apple AirPrint
  • primary paper trays – 125 sheets A4
  • secondary paper tray – 15 sheets 10x15cm
  • dimensions – 156x454x410mm
  • weight – 6.8kg
  • 4-colour (CMYK) inkjet printer
  • print resolution – 1200x1200dpi
  • scanner resolution – 1200dpi
  • connectivity – wifi, USB, Apple AirPrint
  • primary paper trays – 125 sheets A4
  • secondary paper tray – 15 sheets 10x15cm
  • dimensions – 156x454x410mm
  • weight – 6.8kg

OUR VERDICT

The Envy 5540 is good value for people who need to produce a lot of colour documents or photo prints, and provides good quality for such a low-cost printer. However, simple mono text documents remain relatively expensive and there are cheaper options available if you need to print a lot of mono documents on a regular basis.