It’s been a couple of years since we’ve reviewed one of HP’s Envy-brand all-in-one (AIO) inkjet printers. The last one, the Envy 7640 e-All-in-One [amazon_link asins=’B074P4T1FT’ template=’CopyOf-PriceLink’ store=’store-1′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’031e6569-c42f-11e7-8386-87b3d29b5cce’], was a predecessor to (or at least, in the same series as) the model we’re reviewing here today, the $199-list HP Envy Photo 7855 All-in-One.
Why has it been so long? Well, frankly, there just haven’t been new Envy models to review until now, in late summer 2017. Part of a multi-device rollout that includes the $129-MSRP Envy Photo 6200 All-in-One and the $149-list Envy Photo 7100 All-in-One, the Envy Photo 7855 is the flagship model in this new line.
[amazon_link asins=’B074P4T1FT’ template=’ProductAd’ store=’store-1′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’ae50decb-c42c-11e7-8e74-eb2e80817e8c’]As the highest-numbered AIO of the bunch, the Envy Photo 7855, as you’d expect, costs the most and gets the most robust set of features. It has, for instance, an automatic document feeder (ADF) for sending multipage originals to the scanner, rather than making you place them on the platen one at a time. In fact, the Envy Photo 7855’s feature set, which includes several functions its less-expensive siblings don’t have&mdashmemory device support, fax, Ethernet, an automatic extending output tray, and support for legal-size paper—is somewhat lopsided, especially given the $50 list-price difference between it and the next-step-down Envy Photo 7100.
We’ll take a closer look at the Photo 7855’s features in the next section. As context, first: By positioning these new Envy models as photo printers, HP has put them toe-to-toe with some formidable competition from two of its major competitors, Canon and Epson. The competing families are, namely, Canon’s photo-centric Pixma TS-series and Epson’s Expression Photo models. These include the six-ink Canon Pixma TS9020 Wireless Inkjet All-In-One [amazon_link asins=’B01N2RB71T’ template=’CopyOf-PriceLink’ store=’store-1′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’f0276c1a-c42c-11e7-9764-53172c99d85e’] and the five-ink Epson Expression Photo XP-860 Small-in-One.[amazon_link asins=’B00LV97LTW’ template=’CopyOf-PriceLink’ store=’store-1′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’01fc17af-c42d-11e7-b0af-d911918140a8′]
These, and several others in both Canon’s and Epson’s stables of consumer-grade photo inkjets, churn out superb photos. One of the questions addressed in the Output Quality section near the end of this review is whether HP’s more traditional four-ink (cyan, magenta, yellow, and black) Envy Photo models are capable of the same brilliant and highly detailed photo output as its five- and six-ink competitors are.
From HP’s POV, the company says a reformulated black ink and some other tweaks make these new photo-centric HP AIOs highly capable photograph printers, too. That said, these so-called photo printers don’t use separate cartridges for each ink, with HP instead deploying a two-cartridge system consisting of one filled with black ink and another holding the other three inks. That’s a system most other inkjet makers have gotten away from, primarily because when one of the reservoirs on the three-ink tank empties before the other two, the entire cartridge must be discarded, thereby wasting ink.
HP says that it has successfully addressed this issue with a new technology it calls Active Ink Balancing Technology, or AIB. According to HP, AIB “…tracks how you are printing. If you are printing a lot of magenta, for instance, it would use CY [cyan and yellow inks], then, on non-PQ [Printer Quality] needed projects (like a word document, not a photo) so that your colors in the IPH [cartridge] all run out closer together.”
We have no scientific way to test this, of course. However, in answer to our question, “What if the user prints a lot of images containing high concentrations of blue sky or water, thereby requiring a disproportionate amount of cyan ink (or other like scenarios)?” HP said that AIB technology can’t compensate for extreme situations like this. In other words, it can’t perform miracles.
One thing that most so-called photo printers have in common, including the Envy Photo 7855, is high per-page ink costs. As we’ll discuss later on, though, the Envy Photo 7855 and its siblings are Instant Ink-ready, meaning that they support HP’s Instant Ink subscription service, one of the least-expensive ways that we know of to print photographs. It breaks out like this, but we’ll get into the details later…
And that&mdashthe ability to print good-looking photographs for literally a few pennies each&mdashis without question a good reason for choosing the Envy Photo 7855 over its competitors, especially if you intend to print a lot of images. With the Envy Photo 7855, you might give up some image quality, but what you’d save on ink each month (and over the life of the printer) could save you a pile of money over time.