The Envy 7640 is one of several models in HP's refreshed fleet of all-in-one colour printers aimed at homes and small offices. The 7640 is one of the first to feature compatibility with HP's Instant Ink service, which delivers ink to your door when you're almost in need of a top-up for a monthly fee.
The Envy 7640 sports a number of features present in mainstream office printers. Out now for about £160 (around $103, or AUS$203) from various online retailers, the Envy 7640 can be had for a more palatable £119 (around US$183, or AUS$233) when picked up directly from HP online. But before you hand over your hard-earned, it's worth noting that the impressive Brother MFC-J5720DW can be bought online for a slither more at £149 ($219), and may be worth the extra outlay depending on your needs.
The Envy isn't much of a looker. Its slightly chunky dimensions and rounded corners makes it equally suitable for homes or smaller offices. Wherever it's stored, you'll find it difficult to stave off fingerprints - particularly on its reflective front edge.
It packs a number of features including a 25-page document feeder with separate trays for plain and photo paper, in addition to automatic two-sided printing and Wi-Fi Direct compatibility. In the box you'll find the printer, one HP 62 black ink cartridge, one HP 62 tricolour ink cartridge, a software CD, set of instructions, power cord and a phone cord.
Setup and specifications
HP printers tend to come in attractive multi-coloured boxes, and the Envy 7640 is no exception. Lifting it out isn't a difficult task thanks to its relatively light 9.4kg weight. It's almost twice as light as the Brother model, which tips the scales at a weighty 14kg.
Setting up the Envy 7640 is as easy as plugging it in and following the instructions displayed on its colourful and responsive LED touchscreen. It's possible to set up the Envy in around four minutes, timed from a cold boot to printing the first page. There's little chance of anything going wrong during the setup phase because the touchscreen displays easy-to-follow animated diagrams that guide you through each step.
The Envy 7640 holds two ink cartridges, black and colour, which can be installed by easily clicking them into place. The Envy can hold up to 125 sheets of paper in its main input tray and 15 sheets in the photo tray, both of which can print to a 25-sheet output tray. The dual-tray aspect makes it a more convenient setup than printers that make you manually load photo paper every time you want to use it.
For connectivity, the Envy 7640 has two USB 2.0 ports on its side, in addition to 802.11b/g/n Wi-Fi and one Ethernet port. It features Wi-Fi Direct for printing on mobile devices using HP ePrint, Apple AirPrint and other solutions.
The Envy's print quality reaches up to 4800 x 1200dpi, and HP claims that ISO pages per minute is up to 14ppm in black and up to 9ppm in colour. Print speed was tested using the photo yield test pages as defined in ISO/IEC 29103:2011, using photo_1.jpg out of the collection. The Envy took 10.86 seconds to print the document in colour at normal quality, which dropped to six seconds in low quality.
Testing a photo print, the Envy 7640 took 1 minute 12 seconds to print with maximum DPI on glossy paper measuring 13 x 18. The output quality was adequate but hardly held up to HP's claim that the 7640 prints "lab quality" photos. Certain photos suffered from slight detail loss in brighter areas, which also occurred when printing in black and white. Even when printed on the supplied colour photo paper, images lacked punch, and in some instances appeared blurry.
Scan resolution is up to 1200 x 1200 dpi. The integrated scanner supports flatbed scanning, and via the automated document feeder. Scanning is straightforward and lets you scan to computer, memory device or email. HP claims that the Envy takes 15 seconds per scan, but the final time was closer to 24 seconds from the moment the scanning process began.
The HP 7640 is an affordable, hassle-free printer that's easy to set up and packs an impressive feature set. It's a convenient option thanks to the ability to feed in different paper types, and can potentially lower the total cost of ownership thanks to compatibility with HP's Instant Ink service - depending on how much you print.
On the downside, it's not much of a looker and photo quality isn't particularly great, meaning the Envy 7640 isn't a model that we would recommend to the photography crowd. It also had a tendency to suck through too many pages at once, and jams became a common occurrence. The Envy 7640 is a practical option for general printing tasks, but don't expect anything more.