Review: HP Photosmart 7520 e-All-in-One Printer is a fast home machine with great output quality

At a Glance
  • HP Photosmart 7520 e-All-in-One Printer

    PCWorld Rating

The best features of HP's $200 Photosmart 7520 e-All-in-One multifunction inkjet printer (MFP) may be its output quality and the 4.33-inch LCD control panel that makes this machine marvelously easy to use. It's also a well-rounded unit (print/copy/scan/fax), with good speed and all the features most home and small offices need.

It's easy to set up the Photosmart 7520, and the software is first-rate. The LCD panel has a clear, icon-based menu structure; though it's a touchscreen, you don't tap so much as press (for perhaps half a second) to invoke options. The printer has the now-ubiquitous cloud-printing capabilities, including HP's own Web-based apps, as well as HP ePrint and Apple AirPrint for printing from mobile devices.

While the Photosmart 7520 is photo-centric, its paper-handling features extend well beyond that. The main paper tray holds 125 sheets, and integrated into its top is a secondary photo tray that holds up to 20 sheets of photo paper (5-by-7-inch maximum). There's also a 25-sheet automatic document feeder (ADF) for the scanner. However, the lid for the A4 flatbed scanner doesn't telescope to accommodate thicker materials. The Photosmart can print and scan in duplex (both sides of the page), but duplex scanning requires two passes.

The unit achieved average to better speeds in our tests. Monochrome pages of text and text with graphics emerged at 9.5 pages per minute (ppm) on the PC and 9 ppm on the Mac. We chose a higher-quality setting for printing color photos, producing slower times but better output quality (see below). A 4-by-6-inch photo printed at default settings on plain (letter-size) paper took about 16 seconds (or 3.75 ppm). The same photo on letter-size photo paper took 62 seconds (0.98 ppm). A letter-size, high-resolution photo printed on the Mac to glossy paper took about 2.5 minutes (a middling rate of 0.4 ppm). Scanning and copying speeds are a tad faster than average compared with other inkjet MFPs we’ve tested.

The Photosmart 7520’s output quality is among the best we've seen from an inkjet. Photos, printed using a high-quality setting, feature an elegantly cool color palette and excellent detail in even dark areas. Monochrome graphics lacked a distracting green or purple tinge. Text is sharp and dark at default settings, and nearly laser-like at best settings. Even draft-setting documents, which issue forth considerably faster, are more than legible.

Ink costs for the Photosmart 7520 are about average for a mainstream inkjet. The standard cyan, magenta, and yellow cartridges cost $10 each and last for 300 pages (3.3 cents per page), while the standard black costs $12 and lasts for 250 pages, or 4.8 cents per page (cpp). That's just shy of 15 cents for a four-color page. You can reduce color ink costs significantly with the XL cartridges, which are $18 for 750 pages, or 2.4 cpp. The XL black offers only slight savings at $23 for 550 pages or 4.2 cpp. The photo black cartridge costs $10 for 130 photos (7.7 cents per photo), or $18 for 290 photos (6.2 cents per photo).

HP's Photosmart 7520 offers outstanding print quality and ease of use, with all the features most small or home office users need. It's definitely worth consideration--especially by photo mavens. Canon’s Pixma MX892 is a similarly straightforward and competent choice.

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At a Glance
  • PCWorld Rating

    Pros

    • Excellent text and photo output
    • Easy-to-use control panel

    Cons

    • Scanner lid can't telescope to accept thicker material
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