For the last couple of months, we have been taking part in a printer challenge with Instant Ink. We tested two printers the Epson L355 and the HP Envy 5540 which both claim to have ink which will never run out. In the first part of the test, we found that the Epson printer was slightly more compact and would provide ink to last 2 years with normal use, but was tricky to set up and more expensive. Meanwhile, the Envy was easy to install and set up and had touchscreen and wireless capabilities. We now set out to test the print quality. We tested this out for a month using some of the recommended tests and also our everyday printing.
With HP inkjet plain paper with ColorLok loaded in each printer, I tested the print quality of both printers. I tried both ‘Draft’ and ‘Normal’ quality modes – as these are the most used in the everyday home. I mainly use normal mode but for something like a recipe I would use draft. There was not a great deal of difference between the two but I thought the HP was a bit brighter and claerer in the draft copy.
After that, I tried a longer document in normal setting to see if print quality stayed high for a lot of pages. This was a page with lots of photos and text. Both documents had good quality throughout the 8 pages with the HP again being a little brighter.
For this experiment, I used HP Advanced Photo Paper and printed in Best quality mode. I timed both printers to see which was the fastest. I printed both in A4 and it took the HP Envy 89 seconds to print the whole page and the 210 seconds. This was really fast for both printers and I felt the quality was equally good on both final pictures. The colours were really sharp and they were photos I would be happy to display in my house. I was so happy with the finished quality I immediately printed a few of my favourite photos from the last few months to put on the fridge.
DRY SMUDGE TEST
This test was really interesting to me. The twins cannot ever wait for their things to be printed out and alwasy grab it before it has finished. I wanted to know if the ink would smear. Both printers passed this test. No smearing at all.
WET SMUDGE TEST
This time I used HP Advanced Photo paper and ‘Best’ or highest quality to print. Then I used a damp piece of tissue paper and swiped over the image. As you can see neither smudged at all. The print quality in both looked equally strong in this collection of images.
To test the water resistance of the ink I spilt a little water from a cup on to the page – just as if an accident happened- and dried it up with a paper towel. The ink ran a little on both printers but when you bloted it with the paper towel you could not really tell that an accident had happened. I was really impressed with this test. I thought the documents would be ruined completely
This time I looked at the photos which I had put on the fridge as they are in direct sunlight. Aftter two weeks there was no noticeable fade on either of the prints. I will have to come back to this test after a couple of weeks and see if there is any diferennce as I don’t think two week s would be long enough to notice any fade.
Both of these are great printers which would have I would heartily recommend for a family. The print quality on both was really excellent. I liked the ink tank on the Epson printer, the idea that you have paid for two years of printing is appealing. After testing this printer I am going to give it to my niece who is heading to university. I like the idea that she will not need to buy any new cartridges for a couple of years.
Overall there are several reasons I would choose to buy the HP. it was easier and quicker to set up. I liked the fact that the Instant Ink service works with your printer to determine how much ink you are using. You can choose to have additional pages during a busy month or manually adjust your plan. During the time of testing, I found that I didn’t run out of ink, even though I was using it for lots of different projects both for home and work. I found it really easy to use and particularly liked the touchscreen feature. Most of all I loved the price. This is a printer which costs under £70 with excellent speed and print quality.
See my full review of the HP Envy 5540.
Disclaimer: I was sent the printers, accessories and a subscription to instant ink for the purposes of this review.