HP’s premium Envy model has all the features you might need in your home office and specialises in printing finely detailed photos.
An Instant Ink sub keeps you printing
Helpful touchscreen interface
Print from and to email
Front SD card and USB flash ports
Bulbous design takes up too much room
Coloured inks are combined in one cartridge
Replacement ink is expensive
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HP’s range of Envy inkjet printers are for the most part, family-friendly multifunction devices, but at the top of the product tree, is the HP Envy Photo 7830, which also offers a fax and automatic document feeder (ADF) making it attractive to anyone who works from home.
For the modest asking price of £129 (around US$172, AU$230) it packs in a lot of other features too. Wi-Fi Direct and Bluetooth with NFC for making a one-touch connection with Android devices. It can print from and to email, as well as scan to cloud services such as Dropbox. There’s an SD card slot and a USB port in the front panel and separate feeder trays for photos and plain paper. The box includes only two ink cartridges, one black and one containing the other three colours in a single cartridge.
HP’s design team have hidden the front SD card slot and USB port behind a discrete circular flap and made the out tray spring loaded so that it emerges from the front of the printer automatically when you print. Another welcome feature is the colour touchscreen interface that has even been designed to look a little like an iPhone embedded in the panel.
On the whole though, the abundance of curvaceous, glossy black plastic seems unnecessary, and the result is a printer with a larger-than-average footprint which takes up too much desk space in a cramped home office.
Here are the full specs of the HP Envy Photo 7830:
Type: Multifunction inkjet printer
Functions: Print, copy, scan, fax
Ink: C, M, Y, K in two cartridges
Connectivity: Ethernet, Wi-Fi, USB, NFC
Data storage slot: SD card, USB port
Print speed: 15ppm (black), 10ppm (colour)
Document tray capacity: 125 sheets
Print quality: 4,800 x 1,200 dpi
Scan quality: 1,200 x 1,200 dpi
Apple AirPrint: Yes
Google Cloud Print: Yes
App support: iOS/Android
Consumables included: 2 x ink cartridges
Size/weight: 454 x 193 x 491mm (WxDxH)/7.58kg
For the money, the HP Envy Photo 7830 has a long list of features. The ability to print, scan, copy and fax is enough to make it worthy of consideration by anyone setting up a home office, features such as duplex printing, scanning to popular cloud services and printing by email are all features a good office printer should offer. The HP can do all this and gives you access to them via a touchscreen interface.
Connectivity is also strong, with an Ethernet port, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth with NFC to choose from. There are USB ports at the front and rear and even an SD card slot. Two paper trays feed in plain A4 paper, photo paper of all sizes and a variety of envelope sizes. A total of 125 sheets can be preloaded, but the out tray can only handle one or two pages at a time.
Setup and operation
Setting up the HP Envy Photo 7830 is rather easy, with only two ink cartridges to install and the briefest of step-by-step instructions printed on a card. You can use the touchscreen interface to key in passwords when it comes to joining your Wi-Fi network and entering your email address, which is much easier than contending with hard buttons and a cursor.
The touchscreen is smaller and considerably less sensitive than that of the Canon Pixma TR8550, but the menu system is very intuitive, so you shouldn’t find yourself wasting time trying to figure it out.
In terms of print quality, the HP Envy Photo 7830 produced mixed results. It turns out pages at an unhurried pace, somewhat below the quoted speed of 15 per minute for black and white single-sided and considerable slower when printing on both sides, or in colour. Black text on plain paper can look crisp, but the weight of ink varies slightly from line to line. Coloured documents appear vivid, but also unevenly shaded.
Photographs, which this machine claims to specialise in, look bold on glossy paper, but there’s a lack of contrast that makes images look flat. Presumably, using only four colours, as opposed to the five and six ink systems favoured by Epson and Canon in their photo printers, simply cannot produce the same breadth of colour.
The other disadvantage of HP’s two-cartridge system is that when you use up all the magenta, for example, you have to throw away the whole colour cartridge, thereby wasting the unused colours.
The standard three-colour cartridge that comes in the box is only good for around 165 pages, so you should certainly upgrade to the XL size when it’s time to replace it. At around £35 ($45.78) for a colour XL, or £31 ($40.55) for black, it is still prohibitively expensive to print in mono or colour, which herds you towards HP’s Instant Ink program.
Each printer we source for testing is measured on our test bench and the results are critically compared with every other model we have reviewed. Rather than relying on the manufacturer’s quoted figures, we time the first page out and print speeds in single sheet and duplex mode using a standard ten-page document and a stopwatch app. To compare print quality, we print out the same set of test documents on every machine. These twelve test pages include text of varying font sizes and colours, mixed image and text pages, a set of photos and a series of test patterns designed to assess sharpness, colour fidelity, contrast and grey scale.
We also calculate running costs, compare functionality and consider each product’s versatility, design and build quality. The overall score reflects all of these parameters and overall value for money.
According to the packaging, you will save 70% on ink when you agree to a subscription, but this is only true if you take out the most expensive £7.99 ($10.46) per month option. This will give you enough ink for 300 pages per month and if you know you are going to print that much, it is worth it.
However, if you print that frequently, we would recommend one of the far more cost effective and rather less environmentally damaging ink tank systems. Though more expensive initially, the Epson EcoTank ET-7750 and Canon Pixma G4510 are superior machines that will save money in running costs in the long term.
It’s difficult to comment on the longevity of products in bench tests, but in this case we called in two samples of the Envy Photo 7830 and both were faulty, raising the question of reliability. It feels rather flimsy and prints noisily, which suggests a poorly made machine.
The Envy Photo 7830 might be considered stylish in its glossy black finish, and the touchscreen interface is certainly a major plus point. It makes this feature-packed device, mercifully easy to use. The companion app is similarly user-friendly and adds yet more functionality, like printing from social media, or email.
The Envy takes up more space on your desk than it needs to and doesn’t make enough room for loading paper, or collecting printed pages. It prints slowly and the quality is inconsistent. Photos lack contrast and look flat. The tri-ink colour cartridge is wasteful and running costs for colour and mono are relatively high unless you subscribe to HP’s Instant Ink system. This adds cost and commitment and we’re not convinced this machine warrants that.
The low asking price, high feature count and bright touchscreen all make this machine stand out among the ranks for home office printers, but the performance is disappointing. It prints slowly, noisily and with mixed results. Replacement ink cartridges are among the most expensive and taking out an Instant Ink subscription will only deliver the promised 70% saving if you print at least 300 pages per month. If your business needs to print that frequently, we would recommend spending more money on a more reliable printer.
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Jim is a seasoned expert when it comes to testing tech. From playing a prototype PlayStation One to meeting a man called Steve about a new kind of phone in 2007, he’s always hunting the next big thing at the bleeding edge of the electronics industry. After editing the tech section of Wired UK magazine, he is currently specialising in IT and voyaging in his VW camper van.