This review is a bit different in that I got to experience some hardware, software and services with it. This is because HP+ Smart Printing works as an integrated printing platform for your home or small office.
HP+ Smart Printing is a free service (with a couple of paid add-ons available) that works with select HP printers. Their landing page shows a few multi-function ink and laser models, including HP DeskJet printers (for home usage, mainly printing documents), a slightly faster HP ENVY (still for home use, but also printing photos), the faster HP OfficeJet Pro (for small offices) and a much faster HP LaserJet (for medium-sized offices).
For this review of the HP+ Smart Printing service I was sent the HP ENVY 6020e. This printer can be used either standalone or connected to the HP+ Smart Printing service. You decide how you want to use it during setup.
If you use it standalone you just need to download the HP Smart app from the Windows Store and configure the printer locally. The ENVY 6020e uses Wifi 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz as well as ethernet. It can also print via WiFi Direct and AirPrint.
When connecting for the first time you use the HP Smart app to configure the printer network settings and have it connected and ready to be used locally.
If you decide not to use the HP+ Smart Printing service then other computers can just scan for printers in the network and add it. Windows is smart enough to download the appropriate driver and these other computers will be ready to print in less than a minute. You can even use non-HP ink cartridges with your printer. The choice is yours.
The things are different if you decide to join the HP+ Smart Printing service, a free service available with these models.
This service provides a cloud-based printing service that allows you to print and manage your printer from anywhere, providing you have an Internet connection. This means the printer is always connected to the Internet and linked to your HP account.
You then log into the HP Smart app using this account and manage the printer from there.
It constantly monitors the printer status to make sure it’s working and updated as it should. It also secures the printer by monitoring the firmware for any problem or malware.
If you opt for HP+ Smart Printing you will be offered up to six months of HP Instant Ink, a subscription service that manages the ink and toner for you. HP Instant Ink is also available without HP+ Smart Printing but then you don’t get the first six months free service.
The way it works is simple: you don’t have to order ink for your printer anymore. You don’t have to pay for ink anymore. You pay for printed pages on a volume-based pricing. HP will automatically send new ink (or toner) cartridges when it detects your printer running low on those consumables.
If you print less than your subscription limit then the balance will rollover to the next month and you can accumulate up to three times your monthly allowance before having to pay any excess. But regardless of how many pages you print, HP will send you ink (or toner) cartridges when they’re needed.
When I compared this to a similar quality printer from another manufacturer, price could be a bit more expensive. But you have to consider the cost for the other printer - in my case the comparable model I have here at home is about five times more expensive than the HP ENVY 6020e. Then consider the six months of free ink and rollover and things could be equal depending on how heavy is your monthly usage.
Enabling the Print Anywhere feature allowed me to print from any location. This also includes printing from mobile devices, including Android and iOS phones. You can start a print job while on the road and have it printed, ready for you when you are back home.
If your other users (family members or office colleagues) are in the same network as the printer you can just install the drivers on their computers like you’d for a standard printer. The printer will continue to monitor pages printed and ink consumption.
They only need to log into the HP Smart app if they want to use the Print Anywhere feature. In this case, you give access to your printer via an invite sent from the HP Smart app so they will have their own account without admin access.
For those worried about the impact of their printing habits on our environment, HP+ Smart Printing is part of a programme called Forest First with HP+. For every page you print, regardless of paper brand, HP will invest in protection, restoration and responsible management of forests by working with environmental NGOs. This includes projects in the USA, Brazil, Colombia, Ireland, China and Indonesia.
HP+ Smart Printing is a print-as-a-service that takes the headache of printer management away from you. And if you add the HP Instant Ink option then you don’t have to worry about mad dashes to buy new ink cartridges to finish printing that so important document or assignment.