HP has recently introduced a series of tank printers in New Zealand, the HP Smart Tank printers. An HP Smart Tank 7300 printer and scanner/copier landed here for review, and here are my impressions.
First, using ink tank printers seems to be a more economical way of printing at home, reducing waste generated by replacing ink cartridges every month (depending on printing volumes) and being cheaper than buying new cartridges.
Cartridges include not only the ink but electronics and mechanics necessary for the ink to be applied to a piece of paper. Also, most cartridges come in black and colour options, usually with a single colour cartridge having all colours (cyan, magenta and yellow). If you run out of a single colour, you must replace the whole cartridge to return to business.
On the other hand, tank printers have large containers for each colour, so you can refill only the one you need. Replacement bottles have a much larger capacity and must be refilled less frequently.
The HP documentation says the ink provided with a new printer should be enough for two years before you need to refill those tanks. This is huge.
Those ink tanks are visible, so you can glance at the printer and see how much ink is available. No more getting caught by surprise.
This is a massive shift in how you use colour printers at home.
The HP Smart Tank 7300 arrived here, and I went on to set up the new printer. The instructions are easy to follow and consist of installing the printheads, filling the tanks, feeding some paper for an automatic alignment, and adding the printer to your network and computers.
Filling the tanks is very easy, with the bottles being designed to be spill-free.
Once the printer is powered on, it will print a test page. You then put this page on the scanner glass, and the printer will check if there is a need for a printhead alignment. All very easy and automatic.
Connecting to my network was a different exercise, though. I tried using two different Windows computers and an Android phone, and even though the printer would connect to the network, there was no way for the printer to stay connected after a power cycle. It was as if it "forgot" the wireless network. I then set up using an Ethernet cable, which worked without problems.
The printer has a built-in web server with all settings and reports available. I looked around and found a firmware update option that wasn't working, so I looked on the HP support website and found an update available for this printer model. After downloading and updating the printer, I tried the wireless setup again, which worked this time. The printer stays connected to my wireless network, and checking for updates also doesn't end in error any more. Since this printer lives in our home office, I decided to keep it connected via Ethernet anyway - I believe that if something can be wired, it will be wired.
You can use the HP Smart Tank 7300 from your computer by just installing its drivers, but you have a lot more flexibility if you use the HP Smart app - which I recommend if you want to print from a phone, for example. Using the HP Smart app requires you to link the printer to an online account on the HP website.
The HP Smart app gives you a visual indication of the printer status, ink and paper levels and a menu with different options. The Print Photos option, for example, is much easier to use than the built-in Windows print functionality. Also, its Scan option is more feature-rich than the Windows Scan app. Most importantly, if you use the HP Smart app, you can print without having to worry if your router has changed the printer address on your network (which can happen if you connect it via wireless, then change to Ethernet, or if you haven't used it for some time and your router decides to assign a new network address to it when it reconnects).
The print results are excellent. The colours are bright and reproduce well. The printer is fast, with up to 15 pages per minute (PPM) in black or nine PPM in colour. It automatically does double-sided print without you having to feed the paper again (which would usually involve you trying to figure out which way the paper needs to go).
The paper feed can hold up to 250 sheets of A4 or 50 sheets of photo paper. You can also have labels, cards or envelopes that are easy to load and align.
There is a dual scan option: manual feed using the flatbed glass or a 35-page automatic feeder, which allows you to scan multi-page documents very quickly and save those as a single PDF (or image file). The scanner works with either HP Smart or the built-in Windows scan app.
In addition to the Wi-Fi and Ethernet connections, the HP Smart Tank 7300 allows printing via Wi-Fi Direct, Bluetooth or Apple AirPrint. The built-in web server means you can access all printer settings via a web browser. This allows you to enable or disable some functionality and see and print printing data such as the number of printed pages, troubleshooting options, etc.
I also used the Android HP Smart app to print Word documents and photos directly from my Android-based phone. I am happy about this because printing a document or photo doesn't require me to start my computer to do so - or even to have a computer around at all.