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HP Envy 4520 review: A low-cost multifunction touchscreen printer under $150

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The Good The HP Envy 4520 printer uses the latest ink delivery technologies to prolong cartridge life and potentially save you money through its Instant Ink delivery service. It also scored well in print speed tests and produced high-quality output results.

The Bad The printer lacks a memory card reader and an Ethernet port for direct networking. The touch display can also be tricky to use.

The Bottom Line The HP Envy 4520 is a capable all-in-one that combines a printer, copier and scanner with two ink delivery choices designed to ease back on expensive ink refills.

Visit manufacturer site for details.

8.0 Overall
  • Value 8.0
  • Features 8.0
  • Performance 8.0
  • Design 8.0

Review Sections

The HP Envy 4520 truly deserves its "all-in-one" moniker, giving the user control over what to do with the machine, how to connect it to different devices, where to pull print materials from and how to refill depleted ink cartridges.

Sarah Tew/CNET

Its redesigned chassis sits low to the ground and easily disappears out of the way when you're not printing, and the minimal touchscreen design frees the control panel from button clutter and confusion. And at its price of $100 in the US at the time of this review (it sells for £59 UK and AU$99), it's an affordable option for people who don't want to spend too much on a printer that might only get used on scattered occasions. Even though it's not the smallest printer on the market in its price range, the HP 4520 is a dependable performer and worth the investment.

HP Envy 4520

Price as reviewed $100, £59, AU$99
Dimensions in inches (width x depth x height) 17.5 x 14.5 x 5 inches (44.5cm x 36.8cm x 12.7cm)
Functions Print/Copy/Scan
Inks 2-ink tank (black, tricolor)
Automatic 2-sided printing (duplexer) No
Automatic document feeder No
Memory card reader No
Connectivity USB 2.0, Wi-Fi, AirPrint, Google Cloud Print
Paper input tray capacity 100 sheets
Display 2.2-inch monochrome LCD

Design

HP's Envy series of printers always leans heavily toward a slim design, and the 4520 continues the legacy with a new, curved chassis that measures 17.5 inches wide, 14.5 inches deep and 5 inches tall. You can get a smaller all-in-one unit like the Epson XP-420 if your work area is really hurting for space, but as far as multifunction printers go, the 4520 is one of the sleekest I've seen.

Sarah Tew/CNET

This time around, the company went back to a matte black finish with a patterned scanner lid on top. The control panel rests on a lip just below it at a fixed angle, easily viewable unless you have the printer higher than eye level. Curiously enough, there are no physical function buttons on the panel aside from the power button on the left-- you can only interact with the printer through the 2.2-inch monochrome LCD display, so you shouldn't expect to be viewing and editing photos.

Others might have an easier time navigating through menus, but I wish there were a few shortcut buttons built into the hardware to quickly bring you directly to the print, copy and scan functions. The user experience on the tiny display makes you lift and drag a finger to scroll across all the menus, and the touch response isn't as snappy as on a smartphone, causing issues with latency and accidental presses. There's also no way to recalibrate or change the sensitivity of the screen.

Paper handling

A 100-sheet input tray pulls out of a drawer from the bottom of the machine and has adjustable sliders to accommodate popular media sizes including A4, A5 and A6. The tray itself also has designated size markers etched into it that act as a guide to make sure the paper fits properly into the feeder.

One cool feature here is that the 4520 automatically extends a plastic lip to corral prints when you start a job to keep things organized, though you still have to flip up the last piece to prevent sheets from flying onto the ground.

The output tray directly below the display can hold a maximum of 25 sheets of paper at a time, which makes sense for a printer designed to print up to 1,000 pages per month. That number is also known as the printer's "duty cycle."

Given the budget price tag, I'm not surprised to see that HP didn't build an auto-document feeder into this guy for batch scans. If you plan to do a lot of scanning, you'll be happier with the Epson XP-420.

Setup and networking

HP includes a manual for the initial setup and basic troubleshooting, but the driver CD you get in the package is really easy to follow with a clearly labeled guide to connecting the printer to your computer and your home network.

Sarah Tew/CNET

You can start printing in minutes with a simple USB connection, but you'll need to shake hands with a wireless network in order to take advantage of the print-sharing and cloud-printing features. If you subscribe to the Apple or Google ecosystems, the easiest way to do it is with Apple AirPrint and Google Cloud Print, services that let you send jobs to the printer from your iOS devices and Google Chrome Web browsers.

Alternatively, you can also input your SSID and network password directly into the printer to go wireless, and if your router features WiFi Protected Setup (or WPS), you can establish a connection with a single push of a button.

Unfortunately, you need a wireless network in your home to get the printer online, as there's no Ethernet port present on the device.

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