Printer ENVY? HP's Elegant Effort -The Envy 120-E

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envy120What is it?  HP first established its Envy line to be a premium line of laptops.  More recently it’s been superseded by the Spectre laptop line.  But HP has enhanced the Envy line with two printers.  First came the Envy 110 e and more recently the Envy 120 e-all-in-one printer.  This is an elegantly designed machine.  The engineers clearly had a field day.  Unless it’s turned on it simply looks like a sleek black box with a glass top.  But when it goes into action, the touch sensitive front panel lights up, and the panel can be adjusted to a comfortable viewing angle. And when it starts printing, just watch.  The front panel raises up to 90 degrees, and a mechanical paper guide arm swings out.  When the paper is removed, the arm swings back and the front panel goes back to its normal position.  And when the paper tray is empty, it automatically ejects, waiting to be fed.  It can connect via Wi-Fi, Wi-Fi Direct or a USB cable.  It does not have an Ethernet connection.  The multi-function machine can print, scan, and copy, but not fax.  It can do two-sided printing, but cannot do multiple sheet feed copying.

Is It Boomer Friendly? – In terms of printing, copying, and scanning functionality, the Envy 120-e performed well.  Photos are sharp, copy is crisp.  The scanner was simple to use.  The various functions are operated by a touch panel, which goes dark when nothing’s turned on.  The panel is readable, but the font is somewhat small.  The SD card slot for printing photos is a pop out that is easily accessible.  I found setting up the wireless to be relatively painless. Cartridges were easy to install and remove. 

Frustration Factor?  Here’s where things got a little sticky.  The first version of the printer that HP sent us had been damaged in shipping.  So when it printed, the Rube Goldberg design of moving panel and swing out paper arm didn’t operate correctly, which meant an instant and very hard to clear paper jam.  In the second version the mechanical systems all functioned properly.  But we also had connectivity issues.  Turns out that if your desktop computer is connected to your Internet by Ethernet cable, you must use a USB cable to connect the printer.  The wireless won’t work.  And we had some issues connecting wirelessly as well.  The paper tray is relatively low capacity, as are the ink cartridges.

Is It Worth the Money? – As I said, this is an elegant looking machine.  And if you want to show off a work of engineering art, you might consider it.  The Envy 120-e-all-in-one lists for $250 but we’ve seen it online for about $200.  That’s considerably more expensive than comparable all-in-one printers from Canon and Epson, which sell for between $100 and $150.  If you’re fascinated by whirring machines and moving parts, this might be a fun purchase.  If all you want is a printer that works, don’t be envious.

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Gary is an award-winning journalist who has been covering technology since IBM introduced its first personal computer in 1981. Beginning at NBC News, then at ABC News, Ziff Davis, CNN, and Fox Business Network. Kaye has a history of “firsts”. He was the first to bring a network television crew to the Comdex Computer Show, the first technology producer on ABC’s World News Tonight with Peter Jennings, the first to produce live coverage of the Solar Power International Conference, and the creator of the Fox Business Network signature series, “Three Days In The Valley”. Along the way he created the History Channel Multimedia Classroom. He has been a contributor to both AARP’s website and to AARP radio, as well as to a handful of other print and web-based publications where he specializes in issues involving boomers/seniors and technology. He has been a featured speaker and moderator at industry events such as the Silvers Summit and Lifelong Tech Conferences at CES, the M-Enabling Health Summit, and the What’s Next Baby Boomer Business Summit. His column, “Technology Through Our Eyes” appears in half a dozen newspapers and websites across the country.

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