Review: HP's Envy 120 e-All-in-One is a motorized luxury inkjet multifunction printer

At a Glance
  • HP Envy 120 e-All-in-One

    PCWorld Rating

    The HP Envy 120 is for those who do only a little printing and a little scanning, but who want to do it in style.

Connoisseurs of cool tools will appreciate HP's $250 Envy 120 e-All-in-one inkjet MFP not only for its style, but its gadgetry: its motorized control panel that automatically raises and lowers, its see-through scanner platen. However, it is not about economy or efficiency. Capacity is limited, ink prices are rather hefty, and there's no automatic document feeder for the scanner. That said, it handles the basics well and is a conversation-starter for sure.

Clean-lined design with no physical buttons

The Envy 120 installs easily via either its Wi-Fi or USB 2.0 interface. The software bundle, which includes photo manipulation, scanning tools, and remote printing, is more than competent. The driver dialog, while basic, does have the important options, and it's exceptionally easy to use. The well thought-out control panel is completely touch-based, right down to the power switch. There are no physical buttons of any kind to break up the clean lines.

Paper handling features include an 80-sheet input tray. The 25-sheet output device is no typical tray, but rather an arm that rotates out automatically from underneath the control panel whenever you print. The Envy 120 automatically duplexes—that is, it prints on both sides of the paper by pulling it back in and flipping it over without user intervention.

Unique scanner is upside-down and viewable

There's no automatic document feeder, however, the Envy 120's flatbed scanner is still notable for operating upside-down from the norm. Instead of laying a document face-down, you lay it face-up, and the scanning element passes over it. And because the top of the unit is made of transparent glass (replacing the mirrored and opaque surfaces of prior models), you can actually watch the scanner head glide across your document.

Nearly everything on the Envy 120 is motorized: the control panel swings up automatically to get out of the way when you print, the output catch swings out automatically, and even the paper cassette injection is motorized. That last one's a rarity, and overenthusiastic users could come close to breaking it before they realize that they don't need to physically push in the cassette. The only thing not motorized besides the scanner lid is the small, innocuous panel on the right front of the unit, which rotates forward 45 degrees to expose PictBridge/USB and Secure Digital/Memory Stick Duo slots.

Good performance and print quality

The HP Envy 120's output is easy on the eye. The color palette of photos is on the cool side, but that matches the overall air of the machine nicely. Black pages are dark and sharp, and even draft mode documents look decent--a tad blurry, but quite legible. Speed is so-so, but who cares with a printer that's so fun to watch? Monochrome pages (text and mono graphics) print at about 5 per minute (ppm) on both the Mac and PC; 4-by-6-inch photos print at 4 ppm to plain paper and 1 ppm to glossy stock. Full-page glossy photos take about three minutes at best quality.

Alas, pages printed on the Envy 120 are expensive, no matter which size cartridge you choose. In addition to the typical standard-size and high-capacity cartridges, an “economy” cartridge set comes with slightly lower capacities and lower costs per page, and dowdier packaging. For black ink, the standard 60 cartridge costs almost 7.5 cents per page (cpp); the economy cartridge is 6.7 cpp; and the high-capacity 60XL works out to 6.2 cpp. The cyan, magenta, and yellow inks reside in a single tri-color cartridge which costs 12.7 cpp in standard size, 11 cpp in the economy size, and 9.8 cpp with the 60XL.

When style is a priority and printing is light

By the numbers, the Envy 120 seems like a non-starter. But in terms of user experience and style, it leaves the competition in the dust. It's a perfectly viable option for low-volume printing, and it will turn more than a few heads while it’s working—and blend in nicely when it’s not.

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At a Glance
  • PCWorld Rating

    The HP Envy 120 is for those who do only a little printing and a little scanning, but who want to do it in style.

    Pros

    • Super-stylish design
    • Good performance and print quality
    • Motorized components and transparent scanner are fun to watch

    Cons

    • Expensive black ink
    • No automatic document feeder
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