When the folks at Staples noticed that I occasionally post my feedback from a product that I’m using (like these laptop bags), they asked if I would be willing to try some specific products and give them some honest feedback.
I mentioned that we only review products that we actually need/use ourselves, and that we are currently in the market for an HP printer/scanner to replace our trusty old HP printer and an even older Canon scanner in our home office.
They sent us a WiFi printer to try out!
It’s the HP Photosmart 6520 Wireless Printer/Copier/Scanner. (It also sends and receives faxes without using a phone line.)
Jim and I are in love with this printer. It does everything we want… and more.
Here’s our review…
The hardest thing about this printer was getting it out of the box… literally!
It was taped so heavily, there were actually instructions on how to untape everything and get the printer out of the box safely.
All of the tape was a little intimidating, but it was there for good reason — so nothing got broken or dislodged during shipping.
The printer itself was very easy to set up. It took less than 30 minutes when all was said and done.
It would have been even faster and easier if the HP ePrintCenter website hadn’t been down for maintenance at the exact time we were hooking our new printer up. So we had to install the software, instead of walking through the HP ePrint configuration steps online.
TIP: Pay close attention when you’re downloading things like software and apps. For example, we had to uncheck the box that would have automatically installed the Bing Toolbar, among other things.
Wireless Printers Make Printing A Cinch
While the HP Photosmart 6520 is a web-connected printer — which means it’s wireless so there are no cables connecting the printer to your computer — you could connect it nonwirelessly if you wanted (or if you didn’t have an Internet connection). You would just have to use your own USB cable to make the connection between the two; there is none supplied.
However the best thing about this printer is the fact that it’s WiFi. So truthfully, you don’t even need a computer!
That means you can put it in any room of the house and any computer in the house can print to it. Actually, anyone you give the printer’s unique email address to can print to it — whether they’re in your home, in your town, in their car, or across the country.
You can even pick a fun email address for your printer… so it will be easy for you (and your friends or family members) to remember.
I’ve heard lots of people use this feature to send and receive photos on the fly. The photos to will automatically be printed and waiting for the recipient — without any interaction on the receiver’s part. It’s great for grandparents who like to get recent pictures of their grandchildren! I even saw an HP printer rep give out a unique email address on QVC one day. Then they showed the photos they received live on air throughout the segment. Very cool.
So that’s how you can email whatever you want to send to this printer. But sometimes you can’t physically attach what you want to send in an email. In that case, you just use this printer as a cloud printer!
How To Use It As A Cloud Printer
As a cloud printer, you (or anyone you privately invite to use it) can simply select this printer from a dropdown list and print anything to it immediately — without having to send an attachment in an email.
You just need to go through a cloud printing service. (Use your unique HP ePrint email address to identify the printer.)
We use Google Cloud Print for this. It’s free and super simple. It makes it possible to print anything from a Chrome browser or various apps directly to the printer of your choice.
Apple has a cloud printer app for Mac computers that’s also free.
We will probably use this printer as a cloud printer most of the time. The only time I can see that we would use the email method to send items to the printer is when we’re out and about and want to print something from our smartphones, or when we’re traveling out of town and want to print something back at home.
It’s Also A Fax Machine!
One bonus with this printer is the fact that it’s also a fax machine. You simply have to register with eFax first; it’s free.
Then you can send up to 20 pages a month for free and receive up to 20 pages a month for free.
That’s a pretty sweet set-up if you don’t fax a lot and just need to have faxing capabilities available to you for those rare times when you need it.
For our home office printing needs, we started out with eFax to send & receive faxes for free. Then we switched to Ring Central when our faxing volume increased. Plus, we got a toll-free phone number for the business through Ring Central.
Other Cool Features
Jim (who does most of the printing for the home business) was thrilled to see how quick and easy it is to print envelopes, paychecks, and forms on this printer.
It also happens to look really nice on his desk!
It’s got most of the standard features that you want to see in a good printer:
- Print 12 pages per minute with black ink; 8.5 pages per minute with color ink
- Copy 6.5 pages per minute with black ink; 5.5 pages per minute with color ink
- Up to 1200 x 600 dpi print resolution; up to 2400 dpi scan resolution
- 80-sheet input tray, 20-sheet photo tray and 20-sheet output tray
- Print up to 8.5″ x 14″; scan up to 8.5″ x 11″
- Windows and Mac compatible
We don’t usually print many photos, but now we might because the quality is so good. Plus, it’s quick and easy to do with this printer. The quality is quite good too, as seen in the photo.
Not only is the printer itself affordable, but the printer ink is also quite reasonably priced. As a comparison, we were paying about $40 to replace 2 HP printer cartridges for our Deskjet 812 every few months (#12 HP black ink cartridge and #23 HP color ink cartridge). Now we will be paying about $46 to replace 4 HP printer cartridges #564 HP original black/color ink combo) every few months.
NOTE: This printer can use both original (or regular) ink cartridges and high yield (or XL) ink cartridges. There are some big differences between regular vs high yield HP printer cartridges. We use the less expensive original/regular ink since we don’t print all that much, and the extra ink in the larger cartridges would just dry up before we could use it.
There’s an HP ePrint app that, among other things, will show the closest HP ePrint printers around you. This is helpful if you’re away from home and you need to print something quickly where you are. Here’s the Android version that we use.
Remember, you don’t even need a computer in order to use the HP Photosmart 6520 printer. There’s a 3.45″ touchscreen on the front of the machine, so you can print directly from a memory card (by inserting your card into the slots on the side of the printer), or print wirelessly from your phone, or from any computer anywhere!
Downsides To This Printer
Like our other HP printer (an HP Deskjet 812), this one is slightly more noisy than I would like — but it’s not a serious issue. It seems like you constantly hear the rotation of the printer heads and inner workings prior to each print job, that’s all. And the motor itself is easily heard whenever something is printing.
At first we were confused as to why HP included 20 free apps in their desktop software — like a Disney app, an NBC news app, a crossword puzzle app, and a Comics app, to name just a few. They encourage you to use one or more of these apps to automatically schedule and print unique content on a regular basis — like daily. The idea is to have those printed pages waiting for you each morning, so you would have all of the day’s information that specifically interests you. By getting you to print more pages over time, HP is inadvertently getting you to buy more ink over time — so it’s a great marketing strategy. But it’s hard to imagine that anyone would want to kill so many trees and print so many pages, rather than reading that same content online on a computer or smartphone instead. Whatever. It is what it is; not all that appealing to us.
While the printer itself seems like a solid piece of machinery that should last for decades (like our previous HP printer did), the paper catch tray seems a little flimsy to me. It is very small, but it sticks up and out — beyond the dimensions of the paper tray itself. This makes it super easy to bump into or catch things on — like your sleeves on a long-sleeved shirt, the free-moving sides of an open jacket or sweater, dangling purse or backpack straps… you get the idea. We’ll see how long this little plastic tray lasts in my husband’s office where nothing is treated delicately.
We hadn’t done a lot of research on printer/copier/scanners before this, so I honestly don’t know how it compares to other printer/copier scanners that are available right now.
But this one definitely does everything we need… and more.
I think this is exactly what we would have picked out on our own. I asked Jim what other features he might have wanted in a printer/scanner/copier and he said he couldn’t think of a single thing.
Jim is a happy camper because he always had to wait for me to get around to scanning things on the slow Canon scanner that’s been hooked to my desktop computer for years. It’s old. And since I never use that computer, I keep it powered off. And it takes almost 30 minutes just to boot-up each time.
Needless to say, scanning up til now has been a real time-suck. But no more.
Jim can now do all of our scans, as needed, in a matter of seconds! Plus, the ability to print from any computer to this printer is really convenient. We’ve already used that feature a lot.
Overall, it’s a great printer with many useful functions for a small business or home office. To top it all off… it’s super affordable, even the ink!