Over the past few years, a trend of sorts has emerged in the market for all-in-one (AIO) inkjet printers. In addition to manufacturing the standard range of practical office appliances for printing, copying, and scanning, most of the major printer makersâ€”HP, Brother, Canon, and Epson come to mindâ€”have added stylish-looking, luxury or semi-luxury models to their product lines. No longer does buying an AIO for your small or home-based office mean you have to choose one bulky, clunky-looking machine over another.
Weâ€™ve seen some reasonably good-looking printers over the years, but HP took the first shot in the style-over-substance wars (or at least the style-equal-to-substance ones) about two and a half years ago with the sleekÂ Envy 100 e-All-in-One Printer. For a while, only Canon and HP sparred in this printer maker’s fashion rivalryâ€”Canon with its glossy, elegant cube-shapedÂ Pixma MG6220Â andÂ MG8220, and HP with its follow-on Envy, theÂ Envy 110 e-All-in-One, which we looked at back in November 2011.
Lately, though, Epson and Brother have rolled out runway-ready models of their ownâ€”Epson, with its Expression Premium XP Small-in-One line (our fave so far being theÂ Expression Premium XP-800), and Brother with its very goodÂ MFC-J4510DW. What this tells us: Buyers of small- and home-office printers care enough about printer appearance to warrant making good-looking printers. Not only are we seeing eye-candy models from a wider range of manufacturers, but Canon sent us a refreshed version of the Pixma MG6220, the highly stylishÂ Pixma MG6320, a couple of months ago, and HPâ€™s update of the Envy 110, the $249.99-list Envy 120 e-All-in-One Printerâ€”the subject of this reviewâ€”arrived in our lab a few days ago.
The evolution of the Envy line: the HP Envy 100, 110, and 120 (left to right).
What distinguishes this and preceding Envys from its competitors is that, above all, their primary strength is, well, looking good. With the other products weâ€™ve mentioned here, their good looks are secondaryâ€”a by-product, if you will, of being premium office appliances.
Take the Pixma MG6320, for instance. As one of Canonâ€™s higher-end photo printers, its primary purpose is to churn out top-quality images, and it does. Meanwhile, Epsonâ€™s Expression Premium XP-800, as well as Brotherâ€™s MFC-J4510DW, focus first on squeezing as much functionality into the smallest â€œreasonableâ€ form factor. That you get a machine that looks good in a style-conscious office or your living room is a secondary consideration, not the primary one.
The Envy 120Â is, as youâ€™ll see in the Design & Features section on the next page, a good-looking printerâ€”one of the tops in that regard. However, as we pointed out about the Envy 110 before it, as AIOs designed for small-offices and small-businesses go, it is not a very practical choiceâ€”especially if you do even an average amount of printing.
While, for the most part, it produces good-looking output, itâ€™s slower than most AIOs, regardless of price, and because it has one of the highest per-page ink costs among printers in this price range, it’s expensive to use. Furthermore, it lacks several key conveniences and productivity features, such as an automatic document feeder (ADF). Itâ€™s really all about the look.
See the entire review atÂ Computer Shopper.