So-called “photo printers” that also double as all-in-one (AIO) copy/scan/fax machines are convenient hardwareâ€”but, too often, we run into a little problem with them: They cost more to use than similarly priced business AIO models. A good case in point? The $199-list HP Photosmart 7520 e-All-in-One Printer ($149.00 at PCNation.com). It, like many other photo-optimized AIO models we’ve tested, prints nice-looking photos. But everything else you print on this machineâ€”such as business documents, flyers, and lettersâ€”costs more per page than when you print the same documents on a business-focused machine. That’s because the ink is more expensive, on a cost-per-page (CPP) basis, with this machine than on several comparably priced business-oriented models.
That said, you should ask yourself two important questions before buying a photo-optimized AIO like this one. First, does it actually print photos better than a comparable business-centric model? (Not all photo printers actually do.) And, second, is having the ability to print photosâ€”in some cases, slightly better-looking onesâ€”worth the extra expense you’ll incur when using it to print other types of documents? If you use your AIO a lot, over time, the cost difference can be substantial.
Also, dubbing a machine a â€œphoto printerâ€ doesnâ€™t automatically mean it prints superior images. Canonâ€™s photo-centricÂ Pixma MG4220Â ($99.00 at Amazon Marketplace), for instance, doesnâ€™t churn out photos that look a whole lot better than those from several business-oriented AIOs, while, on the other hand, the companyâ€™s slightly higher-endÂ Pixma MG5320Â ($89.00 at Walmart.com)Â does. Both models, however, have high CPPsâ€”too high, as we see it.
Without question, the Photosmart 7520 prints great-looking photographs, but then so does Kodakâ€™s photo-optimizedÂ ESP 3.2Â ($69.00 at Walmart.com), which costs half as much and offers significantly lower CPPs. The Photosmart 7520 does, however, provide, in addition to great photo printing, several other convenience features for the additional cost, such as an automatic document feeder (ADF) for copying, scanning, and faxing multipage originals, as well as support for memory cards and automatic two-sided printing.
This machine does load on the features compared to the $100 AIO set, and aside from the high CPP, we did find plenty to like about the Photosmart 7520. Itâ€™s high-tech, fancy-looking, even attractive. It has a handy, easy-to-use color touch screen for navigating features and making configuration changes. Plus, it supports HPâ€™s printer apps, which allow you to download and print content from an ever-increasing number of providers on the Web. And in our tests, we found it very easy to set up, and it printed reliably.
Still, don’t be misled by the price: It may cost close to double what some entry-level inkjet AIOs do, but this isÂ stillÂ a low-volume specialty machine that, over time, will cost you a good bit to use if you print much. We like it for homes and home offices that need to print quality photos, and occasionally need the convenience of a full-featured AIO. Households that care more about dÃ©cor than price or cost of ownership will also like this machineâ€”it hasÂ an interesting-looking form. But it’s not for heavy print duty, and it will cost you if you print plenty of images.
Read the full review at Computer Shopper.