HP Tango X review

Can printers be sexy?

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Our Verdict

For occasional printouts, the HP Tango X is a decent choice for home users. Where things go a bit awry is in its scanning functions and less than impressive app.

For

  • Stylish looks
  • Fast text printing
  • Quiet

Against

  • No physical control buttons
  • Awkward app experience
  • Poor copy functions

Printers have mostly been awkwardly large grey boxes that sit around as a bit of an eyesore until you need them. Sure, you could tuck them away in a hidden corner or drape a lovely bit of fabric over them, but that’s hardly an effective solution.

Enter the HP Tango X - a compact printer that tucks away when you don’t need it, and looks more like a thick book than a printer. If you’ve been craving for a printer that compliments your furniture, then HP has you covered, but sadly looks are the only strong point you’ll get with the Tango X.

Price and availability

The HP Tango X is priced at AED 799 and is available at all leading retailers. For a cheaper option you can choose the simpler HP Tango printer instead, which omits the fancy wraparound cover styled by the Tango X. However the only option available in the Middle East at the moment is the Tango X, so you’ll have to just settle for that model instead.

Design                         

The Tango X at first glance doesn’t look like a printer, thanks to its stylish fabric cover. Available in either a Charcoal Linen or Indigo Linen color, it’s the cover that masks the fact that this is in fact a printer. When wrapped around the Tango, the cover seamlessly hides the printer away when not in use, making it less of an eyesore. Unfurl it and the cover acts as a paper tray to hold printouts.

What’s also strikingly different with the Tango X is how there’s no on-screen display or many buttons to press. Most (if not all) of the control functions are done via the printer’s accompanying app, which is both a blessing and a curse. 

On the plus side it means that the printer sports a super-sleek and minimalist appearance, but on the downside it means that for any issues with printing or errors, you’ve got to grab your phone and find out what’s wrong via the app.

The fabric cover – while pleasant to look at – did cause a few issues when printing. In one test printout, a page got caught on the end of the cover, which then cause the next page to bunch up and curl up underneath. It’s a shame, since the regular Tango printer has a physical tray that slides out to catch printouts.

Setup and performance

Setting up the Tango X is done through its accompanying app. Just pair it to your Wi-Fi network, install the print cartridges, and you’ll be ready to go.

The app is where you’ll be able to check the status of your printer, including current print jobs and ink levels. You can adjust a few very basic settings from within the app, but for anything more advanced, the app opens up the printer’s web-based UI in a browser window, which is a bit of a disconnect as a user experience. 

On our phone, the UI opened up in Chrome by default, which initially blocked the page from loading because it was pointing directly to an IP address. It would have been a lot simpler if there was a way to change these settings all from within the app, but sadly it isn’t so. Even running something as simple as a print test or cleaning job has to be done from outside the app.

Printing speeds are actually quite decent, with a text-only printout taking around 12-15 seconds to print. Pages with both images and text took around 45 seconds to print out, so while the Tango X isn’t the fastest printer in HP’s lineup, it’s perfectly adequate for the occasional printout or two, and its performance clearly reflects this.

You can of course print other-sized media such as 6x4 photos or flyers, and the Tango X handles these quite well too. Because this is a device you’re only going to use occasionally, there’s no permanent paper feeding tray – you have to prop up the cover each time and load pages in. It’s a small niggle, but again points to the fact that you’re only going to use the Tango X occasionally.

Aside from spitting out regular printouts, there are a couple of extra features on the Tango X that we don’t quite get the point of. There’s a scan and copy function that HP proudly boasts about, but in reality it’s a lot less dramatic. No, there’s no hidden flatbed scanner here – you have to position your document on a flat surface, and then take a photo of it using the HP app on your phone, which then straightens the image and sends it to the printer to print.

This is wholly unnecessary, and the results are very mixed. In well-lit areas and using a good smartphone camera, the results were fairly clear – almost legible. But in other instances when we moved too close to a document, the resulting photo was blurry, and there was no way to fix it without taking a new photo. It’s a cumbersome process, and the quality of the ‘copy’ solely relies on how good your smartphone camera is.

Integration with other online storage services such as Google Drive and Dropbox is also limited, as you can only print out jpeg files and pdfs – Word documents get no love from the Tango X. On the plus side, the printer is web-enabled, so in theory you should be able to print to it from literally any device, no matter where in the world you are. It’s also important to note that there’s no standard USB port here to connect to your PC, which is another puzzling omission.

Then there’s the ability to print items using your voice, either through Amazon Echo, Google Home, or Microsoft Cortana. You can spit out a copy of your calendar, ask the Tango X to print out some coloring sheets for your kids, and perhaps print out a copy of your shopping list. Realistically speaking, barking commands at your printer doesn’t seem like the best thing to do, so it’s entirely up to you to decide if you’re actually going to use this feature.

Printer cartridges can be a nuisance to order, so HP offers a solution with its Instant Ink program which is a subscription-based system that weighs out the number of printouts you use per month. It’s then able to dispatch new cartridges before you run out, making things a lot easier. It’s only available in certain countries however, so everyone else will have to trudge outside and buy their ink cartridges the old fashioned way.

Final verdict

HP set out to create a stylish printer, and that’s exactly what they’ve done with the Tango X. It easily hides away when not in use, and is ready to print within minutes when you need it. Its average print speeds make it perfect for occasional printouts or for regular homework assignments, and the print quality for photos is also quite decent.

Where things fall behind a bit are within the app itself – the scanning function is poor, and should have been left out entirely. The integration with voice assistants is charming, but we doubt anyone will use it. Basically, if you’re in the market for a printer to use at home that isn’t an eyesore, then this is a perfect fit.

Images credit: TechRadar