HP Envy Pro 6420 full review

The HP Envy Pro 6420 is a colour all-in-one printer, scanner and copier whose design makes it look more like a piece of space-age architecture than a your run-of-the-mill home office equipment. Who says printers have to be boring-looking boxes? 

Better still, the 6420 won’t cost the earth – it's less than £100 to buy ($150 in the US where it's called the 6455 and around $150 in Australia, where it's the 6420), and the ability to sign up for an Instant Ink cartridge subscription means that if you’re going to be printing lots of pages, it can be very economical to run, too. 

It can print black ink at 1200x1200dpi, and colour at up to 4800x1200dpi. In practice that means very sharp text as well as rich and detailed graphics and photos. 

A4 documents can scanned at 1200x1200dpi, and copies made at 300x300dpi. Auto-duplexing (aka double-sided printing) is also supported, which saves on paper.

Like most home office printers these days, the HP Envy Pro 6420 has Wi-Fi, so you can print to it from a range of desktop and mobile apps, but there's still a USB port so you can hook up a PC or laptop directly.

Design & Build

Given its irregular shape, with the paper-in tray and ADF (auto document feeder) jutting out of the front and top respectively, it’s tricky to say at a glance how much desk space the HP Envy Pro 6420 will take up – at the most it’ll occupy around 194 x 432.5 x 511.5mm. It weights just over 6kg, which is pretty lightweight considering it’s an all-in-one printer. 

The ADF is housed in the unit which sits on the top of the HP Envy Pro 6420, and the tray here holds up to 35 sheets of A4 paper at a time. 

The A4 scanner sits directly underneath this – hook your fingers underneath the dark grey layer of plastic and gently pull the top section up. I say gently, because there’s no slow-close mechanism here, so you’ll have to push everything back until it’s perpendicular. 

The printing mechanism is located underneath all this. Helpfully, little recesses have been cut into the sides of the HP Envy Pro 6420’s body, making this easy to locate and lift up. 

Likewise, the location of the main paper-in tray at the bottom of the HP Envy Pro 6420 is given away by two small recesses and a little paper document symbol, which show you where exactly to grip and pull. The tray can hold up to 100 sheets of plain A4, or 10 x 15 mm and Letter-sized sheets, along with adjustable clips, to make lining everything up easy.

That said, it’s a tight fit down there and occasionally the pickup roller will grab two or three sheets of A4 by mistake instead of one. It will also sometimes bleep at you and tell you that paper is missing, even when you have another 20 or so sheets there. It's a problem we've seen with other HP inkjets in the past and seemingly one it hasn't yet managed to solve.

Set-up, apps & wireless printing

Despite the price, the Envy Pro 6420 doesn't have a screen. You just get a cluster of very basic controls and status lights, which only illuminate when relevant. Effectively, then, you’re required to use a desktop or mobile device to set-up and connect the printer to your home network.

Using a desktop device and a USB connection is by far the easiest route here, as using one of the mobile apps requires you to pair the printer with your phone via Bluetooth, which in my experience is a rather flaky and unreliable affair.

Stick with the wired option, and download HP Smart for Windows, or Mac OS. Not only is it more stable, but entering your wireless network’s password with a proper keyboard will be easier, too.

The whole set-up process is straightforward taking around 10-15 minutes. You’ll need a few sheets of A4 to print off a few test images to make sure everything is aligned properly. 

Windows users may need to download additional drivers, but Mac users can add the HP Envy Pro 6420 to their list of devices in System Preferences once initial set-up is complete – the 6420 supports Apple AirPrint. 

The 'HP Smart' apps (iOS, Android) let you print documents and images stored locally on your phones, as well as print files stored in the cloud. 

In this regard, the iOS version of the app is better, as it lets you print files from a wider number of third party services including Dropbox, Google Photos, Google Drive, Box, Evernote and Facebook, as well as your iCloud locker. The Android version, by contrast, only supports, Google Drive, Google Photos, Facebook, and Dropbox. 

Both apps also feature a document scanner, if you want to take snaps of letters and contracts on the fly using your phone’s camera, as well as shortcuts to the HP Printables website, where you can download PDFs of things like birthday cards, colouring sheets, and origami nets to your phone. 

The apps can be used to keep tabs on ink levels on the go, too. If you’ve not already signed up for an HP Instant Ink subscription, you’ll be prompted to do so when you check. 

Both apps are very easy to use, and while you’ll no doubt be able to tinker with your selfies and snaps in greater detail using other apps, you do get a degree of customisation options, and fun filters to apply to everything here. 

They are not as useful as the desktop apps, however. You won’t, for example, be able to do things like clean the printheads or run alignment tests from your phone, you’ll have to use the Windows or Mac apps. Hopefully in time, HP will update the mobile apps so they’re on par with their desktop counterparts. 

Mopria for Android is also supported, which is handy, as this means you can print files straight from your phone – you could, in theory, do all your tinkering, filtering, and cropping in your phone’s native gallery before printing it via the Share icon, and selecting Mopira Print.

Performance

Print speeds are good – about average for an inkjet in this price range. It compares favourably with the Canon PIXMA TS7450, speed-wise.

I recorded a page-per-minute rate of 12.49ppm when printing 20 pages of black text, which on average took 1 minute 36 seconds 

Printing out a 20-page file with a combination of text and colour images – pie charts, bar graphs, and other basic graphics – took almost twice as long, 3 minutes and 16 seconds on average, giving me a page-per-minute count of 6.12.

Printing a large colour image on a single page of A4 takes anything between 44 seconds to 1 minute 10, depending on the detail and amount of ink required.  

Frustratingly, although HP says the printer can handle glossy photo paper and borderless prints, during testing the photo paper would just get stuck at the back of the printer, and couldn't be pulled through by the rollers.  All it would do was leave a pair of grey smudge marks where the roller wheels at the back of the printer tried to move the sheet through. 

Text and graphics - on plain paper - are pin-sharp, appearing crisp and professional, even on 'Normal' print settings. Prints of photos on plain A4 are good, quality-wise, with colours faithfully reproduced. It was just a shame about the paper feeding issues.

Running Costs 

The HP Envy Pro 6420 uses just two cartridges, one black and one tri-colour (cyan, magenta, yellow), so replacing this isn’t as expensive upfront as a system that might use four or even five cartridges. 

The standard-sized HP 305 black and tri-colour cartridges cost £10.99 each, and promise you 120 and 100 sheets on average – this works out at about 9p and 10p per page, respectively. 

Larger HP 305XL black and colour cartridges are also available, with RRPs of £19.99 and £17.99, which promise on average 240 and 200 sheets’ worth of ink, a lower cost per page of 8p and 9p. 

The HP Envy Pro 6420 also works with the bigger HP 307XL black in cartridge, which costs £26.99, and promises a huge 400 sheets’ worth, which brings the cost per page down to 6p. 

Then there are HP’s Instant Ink rolling subscription plans. These see HP automatically send new cartridges out to you in the post whenever the HP Envy Pro 6420 detects that ink levels are low, and covers you for a certain number of prints per month. Prices are as follows:

15 pages: 99p/month
50 pages: £1.99/month
100 pages: £3.49/month
300 pages: £9.99/month
700 pages: £22.49/month

Assuming that you did print 100 pages every month, that middle tier is excellent value for money in comparison to the standard cartridge prices – two HP 305 cartridges together would cost £21.98 (£10.99 x 2), so £3.49 is a real saving, equivalent to 3p per page.

Price and availability

The HP Envy Pro 6420 is available to buy for around £90. 

At the time of writing, I could find only a few places had stock, including Amazon UK.

Other vendors, such as Printerbase, listed the HP Envy Pro 6420 for £96 but had no stock.

German retail Sotel was selling the HP Envy Pro 6420 for £121.66, with no extra Brexit-related charges for UK shipping.

Finding it in the USA proved impossible, because it's not called the 6420. Instead, HP sells it as the Envy Pro 6455 for $149.95. It's the same price on Amazon US.

Verdict

The HP Envy Pro 6420 is a good all-round colour printer that offers high-quality prints for a low price. It is occasionally frustrating to use, largely thanks to limited controls on the device itself, and the mobile apps. The problems it had printing on heavier-weight paper may be a dealbreaker for some, otherwise, this is a good all-in-one option for families.

Specs

HP Envy Pro 6420: Specs

  • Colour Inkjet all-in-one printer, copier, scanner
  • Ink type: Cartridges
  • Print resolution: 4800 x 1200 dpi
  • Scan resolution: 1200 x 2400 dpi
  • Maximum paper size: A4
  • Auto Document Feeder
  • Dimensions: 194 x 432.5 x 511.5 mm (H x W x D)
  • Weight 6.16kg

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