Only one other Envy model, the Envy 4500 e-All-in-One Printer, is shorter on features and less expensive than the unit we’re reviewing here today: the $99.99-list Envy 4520 All-in-One Printer. In fact, as we wrote this in late October 2015, HP was selling the Envy 4500 for a mere $49.99—mind-bogglingly low for a full-blown multifunction printer. The Envy 4520, on the other hand (most likely because it’s so new), sold everywhere we checked for its full $99.99 MSRP. Still, that’s very inexpensive for a photo and document printer that can do all it does.
Like the HP Envy 5540 we reviewed a week or so before this model, the HP Envy 4520 was part of a new six-printer lineup HP released midyear. Ranging in list price from $79 to $299, the six new models comprise two Envy personal or family all-in-ones (AIOs) and four home- or small-office OfficeJet AIOs. (As we noted in our review of the Envy 5540, over the course of the next month or two we’ll look at most or all of them.) They all have one thing in common, though: support for a program HP calls “Instant Ink,” in which you pay a flat subscription fee to print a certain number of pages per month. To make that possible, HP sends you the necessary ink cartridges in the mail as you run low, automatically.
Instant Ink-compatible printers like these six new ones come ready to take part in the program right out of the box. Even so, most of HP’s recent, Internet-connectible consumer- and business-grade printers support or are eligible for, Instant Ink. (That includes some high-volume models, such as the popular OfficeJet Pro 8630 e-All-in-One Printer we looked at back in early 2014.)
The real-world distinction here is that signing up for Instant Ink is much easier with the printers that come Instant Ink-ready, as opposed to those that require you to register the machine with the service on your own. In fact, we found registering an Instant Ink-supported OfficeJet Pro 8620 a much more involved process that eventually led to a short session with HP’s Instant Ink support team. The good news is that the technician was knowledgeable and knew exactly how to help us.
Like its similarly priced sibling, the Envy 5540, the Envy 4520 is small, prints somewhat sluggishly versus competitors, and lacks an automatic document feeder (ADF) for copying and scanning multipage documents. (You have to flip them over manually to copy or scan the other side.)
In other words, this isn’t a workhorse AIO by a long shot, and it’s missing some important convenience and productivity features you might expect on a slightly more expensive AIO. At the same time, unless you need multipage scanning and high-speed volume printing and copying on a semi-regular basis, the Envy 4520 isn’t a bad little entry-level printer.
Read the entire review at Computer Shopper