HP Envy 120 printer

HP’s home inkjet printer has one of the smartest designs we’ve seen

HP Envy 120
  • Expert Rating

    3.75 / 5


  • Good scanner
  • Very well constructed


  • High price
  • Relatively slow print speed
  • No dedicated photo tray

Bottom Line

The HP Envy 120 printer is slim, sleek, and looks smart. If it had a dedicated photo tray, it would be perfect for a home office that didn’t have a lot of spare space. It’s good for buyers that don’t need to print much or often, but it’s expensive.

Would you buy this?

The HP Envy 120 is an inkjet multifunction printer that looks more like a piece of home entertainment equipment — an amplifier, Blu-ray player, or particularly swanky home theatre PC — than a printer. It’s designed this way so that it doesn’t stick out like a sore thumb if you put it out in your living room, rather than underneath your home office’s desk. It’s got nearly every feature we’d want in a home printer, and all of this in a sleek, slim design.

HP Envy 120: Design, features, and setup

The Envy 120 is, as printers go, a bombshell. Starting at the front, with the printer turned off, all you see is a single slick, glossy black glass fascia. Turn the printer on and three-quarters of this fascia whirs outward, tilting up at a 45-degree angle to make it easy to see from above. There’s a big 4.4-inch LCD display on this tilting panel, surrounded by a few touch-sensitive buttons. The display itself is a touchscreen, with HP’s standardised, easy-to-handle user interface. On the other quarter of the fascia you’ll find a PictBridge-compatible USB port for hooking up a camera or flash drive, and a SD/Memory Stick memory card slot.

Up top, you’ll find a reassuringly thick glass panel, which is transparent — this actually houses the scanner head, which tracks across the panel when you’re copying a document. Lift the panel, place your document face-up, lower the panel, and you can watch the scanner do its work.

The Envy 120 hits a bogey when it comes to connectivity, though; the printer has network access only via Wi-Fi, and doesn’t support 5GHz wireless. We would have liked to see 5GHz support as well as an Ethernet port for those that want it. Direct PC (or some modem router) connection can be made by USB 2.0, as well — and a USB cable is included if you buy the printer locally, which is great.

Setting up the Envy 120 is a relatively painless process. The printer guide tells you everything you need to do, and holds your hand through the steps, including installing ink cartridges and running a first-time calibration and print test. You’re also prompted to connect the printer to HP’s ePrint service, where you can assign the printer an email address — send all your documents and emails to that address, and the printer will just run them off without any prompting.

The drivers that HP supplies with the Envy 120, which can also be downloaded from the Web if you don’t happen to own a CD drive, are reasonably lightweight — there’s only a little in the way of bloatware included. We usually stick to installing just the necessary printer drivers, and leave all the extraneous scanning and remote-management software out, and thankfully HP offers download options for just the printer driver (23.1MB) and with all the trimmings (61.7MB).

HP’s home printers are all compatible with the default printer driver included in Windows 8, too, so if you’ve got a PC running this operating system then it’s not even necessary to install any drivers for basic USB or wireless access.

The Envy 120 has an 80-sheet (plain paper) input tray, which is a cassette that slides into its body at the centre of the base, an a 25-sheet output tray — sitting on a long, skinny arm that swivels into place when you start printing.

Inside the Envy 120, underneath the scanner tray, you’ll find spaces for two ink cartridges — a black, and a tri-colour. These are HP’s 60 series ink cartridges, costing $25 and $30 for regular-size black and tri-colour, and $48 and $46 for XL-size respectively.

Our largest concern with the Envy 120 is that it doesn’t possess a dedicated tray for photo paper, separate to the plain paper tray. This is probably a little too much to ask for in an inkjet printer of the Envy 120’s dimensions, but we would have happily had it a little taller if it meant we didn’t have to find somewhere to keep photo paper alongside the printer, switching it with plain paper when necessary. Here’s a tip — hiding the spare paper in the flatbed scanner is probably your best bet.

HP Envy 120: Print speed, print quality and performance

The HP Envy 120, like the Envy 100 of 2010, produces print results that should be good enough for most home users. Its black cartridge, good for 200/600 prints from standard/XL cartridges, is fine for any monochrome document print down to around 8pt text sizes. Unless you’re printing a cram sheet for your university exams, the Envy 120’s text printing is generally clear and perfectly legible in the Standard and Best print modes. Even if you change to Draft, text only gets slightly less saturated with a very minor amount of blurring on edges. The printer produces pages that are more than good enough for anything but the fanciest of resumes or PowerPoint presentations.

In terms of colour print quality, the Envy 120 performs equally well for your garden-variety graphs and pie charts and other PowerPoint plain paper ephemera — we don’t have any real complaints, especially given the combined-ink tri-colour cartridge. It also produces photo results, on photo paper, that are roughly equivalent to the digital prints you can buy from your shopping centre camera store or big-box retailer — decent detail levels, decent colour accuracy, no obvious visual problems, but nothing stunning.

The printer has duplex printing as standard, which means you can cut down on the amount of paper you use by printing on both sides of each sheet of paper if and when you desire. We printed a 25-page test document and hit a speed of 6.5 pages per minute — close to HP’s rating of 7ppm at ‘laser-comparable’ quality. Duplex cuts this down to around 4 pages per minute. You can also reel off single sheets in draft quality, where we achieved 12 pages per minute. Photo printing speeds — we only tested at the common 10x15cm size — are between 1 minute 20 seconds and 1 minute 40 seconds, at Best print quality from a PC and from a USB flash drive.

At HP’s recommended retail price, the Envy 120’s print costs are 12.5cents or 8cents for monochrome documents with standard or XL cartridges, with four-ink colour prints coming in at 31.25cents and 20.73cents with standard or XL cartridges. These prices are comparable with other premium home inkjet multifunctions.

The scanner inside the HP Envy 120’s lid does a surprisingly good job. We expected it to be mediocre — it’s a very compact unit, and it’s on a panel that moves around as you lift it — but the scans we got out of it were consistently detailed, with accurate colour and no visual problems that we could detect. The scanner can output JPEG/PDF/BMP/PNG/TIFF files at up to 1200dpi (optical resolution, too) — far beyond the needs of any average home or home office. It’s more than up to the task of digitising your documents, or for taking a scan of your passport or driver’s licence.

HP Envy 120: Conclusion

The HP Envy 120 is an expensive printer for a home to consider. If space is a consideration, though, or if you value the all-in-one and hands-free design, we think it’s a device that does little wrong.

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