HP Envy 5540 printer in the test: good color inkjet printer for the Mac

If you look at the instructions printed on the printer, you will immediately understand how the cartridges should be inserted. : D

A quick note in advance: In this review, I am going to report on my experiences with the HP Eenvy 5540, which I bought a good two years ago. Unfortunately, the model is no longer available, but the HP Envy models are all very similar, so I assume that my experience with the print results can be transferred and that setting up the printer is basically the same. For this reason, I am listing the current HP Envy models below and briefly describing the differences. But now to the test report itself ...

After my old Samsung laser printer gave up its ghost at the time, I decided that I needed both a new laser printer and an inkjet printer (that runs on macOS) to help me out in the rare cases where I need color printouts. It should also be my new backup printer in case the laser printer should fail again. Ultimately, the choice fell on the HP Envy 5540, which I would like to introduce here.

The HP Envy 5540 at its new home: The printer looks a lot more elegant than most multifunction printers (Photos: Sir Apfelot).

The HP Envy 5540 at its new home: The printer looks a lot more elegant than most multifunction printers (Photos: Sir Apfelot).

Brief excursus: Inkjet printer with refillable cartridges: EcoTank from Epson

When choosing, I looked at a few different models. For example, Amazon is currently offering the Epson EcoTank models advertised that can print approx. 4.000 (yes, you read that correctly!) in black and white or approx. 6.500 pages in color with one ink filling. The ink can also be bought cheaply in bottles and then filled into the tanks. A good concept for multiple printers, but I print most of the time with my black and white laser printer, so that the inkjet printer will be less of a use for me. On the other hand, the EcoTank models cost from 200 EUR upwards, which seemed too much for my purposes.

The Epson EcoTank system allows easy refilling in order to massively reduce printing costs (Photo: Amazon).

The Epson EcoTank system allows easy refilling in order to massively reduce printing costs (Photo: Amazon).

Better small and fine ...

I didn't want the multifunction devices that fill half the desk. You may have the best price-performance ratio here, but I don't need a fax and one good document scanner with paper feed I already have. So rather a small model that has good support for OS X or macOS (yes, even with Mojave!) and knows how to use WLAN printing and maybe also airprint.

AirPrint allows wireless printing from any iPad or iPhone.

AirPrint allows wireless printing from any iPad or iPhone.

Wifi, Airprint or USB?

Airprint was not a must-have for me because I never print from the iPhone or iPad. However, it is important that the printer can print via WiFi or WiFi, as my new laser printer is only connected via USB and thus takes up a lot of space on the desk. With the WiFi support on the printer, you have the option of accommodating the device anywhere in the room without me going there USB cable with an extension embarrassed. By the way: With Wifi and Airprint, even ugly models can be hidden well. But in my opinion, the HP Envy does not fall into this category.

Print head in the cartridge or better not?

A common argument that is always thrown into the balance against HP printers is the fact that most HP inkjet printers have to use so-called printhead cartridges. This means that every time you change the ink cartridge, you also change the print head at the same time.

With the Envy models, the print head is also exchanged directly with the cartridge (Photos: Sir Apfelot).

With the Envy models, the print head is also exchanged directly with the cartridge (Photos: Sir Apfelot).

In terms of price, this is of course a disadvantage, since the cartridges are technically more complex and therefore more expensive. The advantage - which I like to mention with infrequent printers like me - is that you don't have to deal with dried out printheads, print the stripes or deliver an unclean print image due to dirt on the printhead. With the HP Envy models, the complete print head with the cartridge is always exchanged, so that you have a clean print image again after changing the ink cartridge at the latest.

Since I don't do a lot of inkjet printing, choosing a model with printhead cartridges is a good thing for me. You don't get the print per page that cheap, but you have a small printer whose print head is almost always "clean".

The choice: HP Envy 5540

Based on the criteria mentioned above, I finally decided on the HP Envy 5540. It was important to me that I have a paper compartment for the 10 × 15 photo papers in the printer, with which I can print out one or the other photo. The larger and more expensive Envy models still have support for 13 × 18 photo paper, a colorful, larger touch display and similar bells and whistles that I didn't need. For this reason, I got the smallest model with a b / w touch display, photo paper tray and WiFi printing: the Envy 5540.

Installation and setup

An important point with a printer is always the operation - and that starts with the setup. The first thing I did was remove the transport locks, plug in the power plug and switch on the HP Envy. Thereupon a message appeared on the display as to what to do and a message that there was a paper jam. I couldn't explain that to myself, but after opening the lid (you basically fold the top of the printer including the scanner's glass plate backwards) I found a transport lock in the area where the ink cartridges will later be inserted. With this fuse removed, the printer walked me through the setup. This is quite easy, including the WiFi settings.

If the Envy is connected to the WLAN, firmware updates are done very quickly.

If the Envy is connected to the WLAN, firmware updates are done very quickly.

Insert the printer cartridges

The next little problem arose with inserting the ink cartridges. From an old printer model I am used to inserting the cartridges with the highest side facing back and then locking them into place. After almost breaking the printer, I got the idea to try the other way around. So you put the cartridges in so that you can see the writing on the cartridges the right way round. So it works without a lot of force. ;-)

If you look at the instructions printed on the printer, you will immediately understand how the cartridges should be inserted. : D

If you look at the instructions printed on the printer, you will immediately understand how the cartridges should be inserted. : D

Test print and calibration

I didn't mention it, but the HP Envy has a scanner - even all models in the series. This is used to calibrate the printhead by the printer making a test print after inserting the cartridges, which is then placed on the scanner plate and scanned. Once the calibration is done, you can move on to setting up the printer on the Mac.

This is what it looks like when you run wet fingers over the test print.

This is what it looks like if you run wet fingers over the test print.

Setup on Mac (under macOS Mojave)

If you connect the printer with the USB cable, it is easy because the Mac will then automatically recognize it. It is a little more complicated via the WiFi network. HP offers several variants to choose from (WPA, program for setting up or manual entry of the network), whereby I opted for the most obvious version: I entered the access data for the WLAN network on the printer.

This worked quite comfortably with the touch display on the printer, whereby you select the appropriate one from the list of networks and then enter the password on the touchscreen using a special keyboard (as was previously the case when texting with the number pad of the mobile phone).

If the HP Envy is in the WLAN network, you call up the system settings on the Mac (under old OS X versions as well as under macOS Sierra to Mojave) and then the "Printers & Scanners" area. There you go to the left in the bar on the "+" sign and the HP Envy should appear in the following window. If not, is the printer and the Mac on different wireless networks? That was the case with me and it made me wonder at first. ;-)

In addition to the compartment for normal paper, the Envy 5540 also has a special compartment for photo paper measuring 10 x 15 centimeters.

In addition to the compartment for normal paper, the Envy 5540 also has a special compartment for photo paper measuring 10 x 15 centimeters.

Print image in black and white and on photo paper

First of all, of course, I made a few test prints. When printing normal office documents in black and white, there is practically no difference to laser printing. The resolution is high and the printout looks great even on normal paper. Of course, the HP Envy needs a little more time to print the document, but the end result is impressive.

Basically, my Envy 5540 also supports duplex printing (double-sided printing on the front and back), but this is not the case with all Envy models. If you absolutely need this feature, it is best to take a look at the list below to see which ones support it and which don't.

Printing photos on photo paper (a few sheets of HP glossy paper are included with the printer) is easy and can be started from any program. I once printed a holiday photo and a Christmas card that my kids designed from the "Photos" app on my Mac. Both prints are impressively good in terms of both color reproduction and resolution. In terms of print quality, there is nothing to complain about either in black and white or in color.

 

My first test print of a vacation photo (who cares: South of France near Briançon) looks very good. The color rendering fits and the term "laboratory quality" is not far-fetched.

My first test print of a vacation photo (who cares: South of France near Briançon) looks very good. The color rendering fits and the term "laboratory quality" is not far-fetched.

 

The second printout is a Christmas card that my children designed. Here, too, the colors look good. The resolution is also more than sufficiently high.

The second printout is a Christmas card that my children designed. Here, too, the colors look good. The resolution is also more than sufficiently high.

Important note: the prints are not waterproof. If you wipe the paper with wet fingers, you make stripes. If you print a lot of photos and would like them to be waterproof and indestructible, I recommend the Canon Selphy, which I do tested here have.

Update 04.04.2019/XNUMX/XNUMX: ColorLok technology makes colors smudge-proof

I kindly got the hint from my reader Wolf in the comments below that the HP inks become smudge-proof if you use paper with ColorLok technology. The paper is coated and ensures that the colors are fixed by a chemical reaction after application. Corresponding paper is not even expensive. Here one Carton from HP with 2500 sheets for just under 20 euros (As of 04/2019).

0,90 EUR
Printer paper, copy paper white A4 80g / m² with ColorLok technology, 2500 sheets from HP Hewlett ...
Format: DIN A4; Grammage: 80g / m²; with patented ColorLok technology; suitable for color inkjet printers and laser printers alike.

Printing costs and cartridges

A not entirely unimportant aspect of printers is the printing costs. As a rule, Hewlett Packard is already in the "more expensive" range, since the cartridges also contain the print head. Refilling by hand is usually prevented by a built-in chip in the cartridge, which detects tampering and then causes the printer to throw an error.

In order to reduce costs anyway, HP offers the XL ink cartridges, which according to the manufacturer last for 400 to 600 pages. The calculation is of course based on a standardized procedure that is highly standardized and has little to do with everyday use. For example, occasional cleaning of the print head is not included, which always uses a certain amount of ink. Calculating a price per page is very difficult because every motif has a different color combination and color density.

The HP 301 or HP 301 XL cartridges come in my Envy - unfortunately the color cartridges can only be completely exchanged on all Envy models.

The HP 301 or HP 301 XL cartridges come in my Envy - unfortunately the color cartridges can only be completely exchanged on all Envy models.

Since the color cartridges are always completely exchanged and thus all three colors are replaced, it is possible that two of the three colors are still well filled, but you still have to replace the complete cartridge with all colors because one has run out.

If you want to print super-cheaply, you should perhaps distance yourself from HP as the manufacturer and look for a printer where the cartridges can even be refilled individually (see Epson Eco Tank).

With the XL ink cartridges, HP offers a cheaper alternative for high-volume printers.

With the XL ink cartridges, HP offers a cheaper alternative for high-volume printers.

My conclusion: suitable as an all-round talent for occasional printers

For people who are looking for a color inkjet printer for the Mac that is not as bulky as most multifunction printers, the HP Envy 5540 can safely access it. The Envy 5540 can be used especially when the office is of a manageable size and you need a printer that prints in black and white as well as in color.

With the purchase of the Canon Selphy, however, he has less and less to do with me because I use a laser printer (test report will follow!) For the monochrome office printouts and the Canon Selphy for all photo prints. Sooner or later, the HP Envy will probably find its way into my wife's office, since as a graphic designer she clearly has more jobs for the little ones than I do.

The current HP Envy models at a glance

There are currently some Envy models from Hewlett Packard available, all of which look similar and can basically all print in color and also scan with ink, but they differ in detail. To bring a little more light into the darkness, I would like to briefly introduce the current HP Envy printers. However, many technical data are the same for all models. I would like to briefly mention these here so that the overview of the individual models is not overcrowded with properties that are present in all models anyway:

  • Touchscreen control panel
  • Basic functions: printing (black / color), scanning, copying
  • Scanner type: flatbed
  • Connections: USB 2.0, Ethernet, WLAN, Airprint
  • Print quality: up to 4800 x 1200 dpi
  • Borderless printing
  • Duplex printing
  • Output tray

HP Envy 4525

Special features (View product on Amazon):

  • 5,5 cm mono touchscreen
  • Print speed: up to 9,5 pages / min (black and white) and 6,8 pages / min. (Colour)
  • none separate paper cassette for photo paper
  • no ADF (automatic document feeder)
  • Print size: max. 215,9 mm x 355,6 mm
  • Ink cartridges: HP 302 and HP 302XL
HP ENVY 4525 multifunction printer (instant ink, photo printer, scanning, copying, airprint, duplex) ...
  • HP Instant Ink: With HP Instant Ink, you no longer have to worry about your ink and save time ...
  • Savings tip: the HP Instant Ink 50 page rate. Further information in the product description
  • Highlights: space-saving photo printer; versatile multifunction printer with borderless printing and photo printing in ...

HP Envy 5030

Special features (View product on Amazon):

  • 5,5 cm mono touchscreen
  • Print speed: up to 10 pages / min. (black / white) and up to 7 pages / min. (Colour)
  • 2. Photo paper feeder: 15 sheets
  • no ADF (automatic document feeder)
  • Print size: max. 215,9 mm x 355,6 mm
  • Ink cartridges: HP 304 and HP 304XL
15,90 EUR
HP ENVY 5030 multifunction printer (instant ink, photo printer, scanning, copying, WiFi, airprint) ...
  • HP Instant Ink: With HP Instant Ink, you no longer have to worry about your ink and save time ...
  • Savings tip: the HP Instant Ink 50 page rate. Further information in the product description
  • Highlights: space-saving photo printer; versatile multifunction printer with borderless printing and photo printing in ...

HP Envy 6230

Special features (View product on Amazon):

  • 5,5 cm mono touchscreen
  • Print speed: up to 13 pages / min. (black / white) and up to 8 pages / min. (Colour)
  • 2. Photo paper feeder: 15 sheets
  • no ADF (automatic document feeder)
  • Print size: max. 215,9 mm x 355,6 mm
  • Ink cartridges: HP 304 and HP 304XL
HP ENVY Photo 6230 multifunction printer (photo printer, scanner, copier, WLAN, Airprint, Instant...
4.293 Reviews
HP ENVY Photo 6230 multifunction printer (photo printer, scanner, copier, WLAN, Airprint, Instant...
  • HP Instant Ink: With HP Instant Ink, you no longer have to worry about your ink and save time ...
  • Savings tip: the HP Instant Ink 50 page rate. Further information in the product description
  • Highlights: versatile photo printer with extra photo paper compartment; space-saving multifunction printer with borderless printing, ...

HP Envy 7830

Special features (View product on Amazon):

  • Fax function
  • 6,75 cm color touch screen
  • ADF up to 35 sheets (automatic document feeder for scanning or faxing)
  • Print speed: 15 pages / min. in black and white and 10 pages / min. in color
  • 2. Photo paper feeder: 15 sheets
  • Print size: max. 209,9 mm x 349,6 mm
  • Ink cartridges: HP 303 and HP 303XL
HP ENVY Photo 7830 multifunction printer (photo printer, scanner, copier, fax, WLAN, Airprint,...
  • HP Instant Ink: With HP Instant Ink, you no longer have to worry about your ink and save time ...
  • Savings tip: the HP Instant Ink 50 page rate. Further information in the product description
  • Versatile photo printer with extra photo paper compartment; space-saving multifunction printer with duplex, WiFi, SD card, ...

 

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The page contains affiliate links / images: Amazon.de

4 comments

  1. Mathias says:

    What does it look like if you only want to print black and white? My current HP printer only does this when magenta, cyan and yellow are not empty. That means that I cannot print black and white when yellow is empty!
    Have they fixed that in the meantime?

    • sir appleot says:

      Hello Mathias! I can't tell right now, but I think a year or two ago it was still as you described. If a color is empty, you have to swap it before it prints.

  2. Wolf says:

    if you use paper that is Colorlok certified, the print should be smudge-proof. Colorlok is a trademark of HP, but there are also licensed papers from other manufacturers. At Colorlok, the anionic dyes in the ink are fixed in the paper surface using cationic fixing agents.

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