Review: HP Envy 100 eAIO printer

26 Aug 2011

Review: HP Envy 100 eAIO printer

It’s rare that you can find an all-in-one printer that wouldn’t look out of place in your living room. But that seems to be what HP has achieved with its Envy all-in-one printer which it is targeting at the back-to-school market.

Despite all the news in the past week about HP exiting the PC business, printers and ink look like a profitable mainstay market for the technology giant and it has put an impressive amount of work into adding social media, online tools and anywhere printing via AirPrint for iOS devices and Google CloudPrint.

Internet connectivity appears to be the order of the day with the latest generation of printers and some of the apps that appear on the digital screen such as Disney ensure that children can be kept entertained as you can print out puzzles and drawings for them to colour, for example.

What is particularly cool about this device – let’s call it the iPhone of the printer world – is its design and some of the futuristic things it can do.

It features a glittery finish and is designed to fit in anywhere in the home or the office.

When I first switched it on I was very impressed by the robotics effect of the LCD screen lifting itself up and the printer tray revolving so all that was missing was some R2-D2 bleeps and the effect would have been complete.

As a connected printer the idea is that you can connect via Wi-Fi to notebooks, tablets and smartphones to do your printing. As an A4 printer I found it did an impressive job. Set-up was easy enough once I matched the IP address of the printer with the software on my PC and for a few weeks all was well.

However, a Service Pack update on my Windows 7 computer, caused some problems with drivers and I spent the best part of a morning trying to update the software. This is a major bugbear of mine – in a world where smartphone ups can be updated over the air without causing problems why is the Windows world in such a sorry state when it comes to driver updates. It’s painful and if I struggled with it, how are ordinary printer users – parents and children – meant to put up with it.

After the problem was resolved I was back in business and the machine itself gave no problems. As well as Wi-Fi printing, it features USB and SD-card ports so budding photographers can print directly from the machine.

The printer can print on both sides of pages and does a stand-up job – pages thankfully didn’t have that wet feeling.

However, for glossy colour prints I felt it didn’t truly match other members of the HP family like the PhotoSmart range in terms of quality – but I have to add that colour ink levels were quite low in the machine by the time I got to review the Envy, with prints suffering a striped effect.

This, however, can be easily resolved by simply going out and buying the cartridges, which is actually one of the factors I think could work for the Envy. Unlike, most printers in the market today, the Envy doesn’t require a handful of different cartridges such as magenta, yellow, black, blue, etc to do the job, it just requires the 300 range of a tri-colour ink cartridge to do the job, which should save some shillings.

Overall, I found the device unobtrusive (it’s quite small and discreet) and at the same time attractive because of its silver, mirror like coating and could be ideal for any family with students requiring a machine capable of quality output and yet can take a beating in terms of high demand.

The HP Envy 100 eAIO is €299 and is available at Harvey Norman outlets nationwide.

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years