HP Envy Inspire 7224e review: The smart home office choice?
If you’re happy with HP’s subscription model this is a great home office printer
The HP Envy Inspire 7224e forms part of a new generation of home office multi-function printers, with a revamped style, decent specs and a chassis that’s over 45% made from recyclable plastics. It’s a smart printer, built to be setup and run through the HP Smart smartphone app, and designed to be used and supported through the company’s HP+ service, including Instant Ink supplies. Perhaps this explains the surprisingly low price point. This is a lot of printer for under £100, and it’s clear that HP plans to make its money in the long term through the HP+ subscription rather than through sales of the device itself.
With a desktop footprint of 46 x 38cm, even with the output tray folded away, this isn’t a particularly compact printer. It’s substantially bigger than the Canon Pixma TS8350, for example, or even the squarer Epson Ecotank ET-7250. However, HP has done its best to minimise the bulk with rounded corners at the base and an interesting two tone off-white and beige design. It’s going to fit better into a lot of home offices than your average black or dark grey model.
The minimalist front panel is dominated by a 2.65in LCD touchscreen, which can tilt slightly backwards for easier operation when you’re looking at the printer from above. This provides easy access to the most basic copying and scanning operations, plus user-definable shortcuts you can set up through the smartphone app. These cover a range of capabilities including scan and email to a specific email address, or scanning and uploading to cloud storage, with options for most of the major services including Dropbox, OneDrive, Google Drive and Box.
This app-centric approach turns out to be the norm with the Envy Inspire 7224e. It’s the default option for initial setup, where the app makes a Bluetooth connection to the printer and hooks it up to your Wi-FI network, then holds your hand through cartridge installation and installing paper. It carries through to simple admin and management, including keeping track of ink supplies. It’s an approach that makes setup and basic operations so easy that you barely notice them.
In fact, with Windows 11 picking up the Envy Inspire 7224e automatically, it couldn’t be much less work to get a printer up and running. What’s more, it’s one of a small number of printers to have moved beyond 802.11n wireless connectivity to embrace dual-band 802.11ac, which should help speed things up when you’re printing larger and more complex files.
The Envy Inspire 7224e isn’t what you’d call an office workhorse. There’s no automatic document feeder for the scanner, and HP specifies a recommended workload of around 300 to 400 pages per month. Yet the main paper input tray holds 125 sheets, while the photo paper feed on top can hold up to 15 5x5 to 5x7in photo sheets. That should be fine for basic home and office usage.
Speeds are decent for a printer with only one or two people sharing. The first page of our 24-page black text document took nearly 18 seconds to emerge, but subsequent pages flowed through at a speed of 12.5ppm. Colour documents take a little longer, with 24.4 seconds for the first page and a speed of 6.4ppm after that. That’s slightly off the pace of a printer like the Canon Pixma TS8350, but hardly slow.
What’s more, the HP doesn’t lose too much speed in Duplex printing, where our first black and white page appeared in 17.97 seconds, and our remaining test pages came through at a speed of 11ppm. In fact, the feed mechanism did a fast, flawless job of outputting the first side then sucking the page back in to print the second.
One sure sign that this is a home office printer is that it has a special Quiet mode, which reduces noise levels at the cost of a reduction in speed. The speed reduction is significant, with a 4 page PDF file that took 52 seconds to print originally taking 98 seconds to print in Quiet mode. Sadly, the reduction in noise levels isn’t so impressive. We measured 51dB from 1m away in standard printing and 54dB in Quiet mode; hardly game-changing stuff.
The Envy Inspire 7224e prints good, crisp black text and also copes well with diagrams and business graphics. Colours are bright and any graduations smooth, and there’s no sign of blotchiness or banding. The worst thing you can say about it is that the ink occasionally comes out slightly damp, though even then it doesn’t smear.
What we didn’t expect, however, is for the photo quality to be so good. This is a standard four-colour printer with a fairly normal 4,800 x 1,200dpi print engine, yet it still delivered excellent photos with natural colours, visible shadow tones and highlights, and respectable colour depth. Specialist photo printers will give you more clarity and dynamic range, but the Envy Inspire 7224e holds up well against other non-specialist inkjets, including the Pixma TS8350. It’s just a shame that it takes its time in doing so with the highest quality setting, taking 3 minutes and 27 seconds to output our 8x10in test print and 2 minutes and 5 seconds to print a smaller 6x4in print.
It’s a little faster when it comes to scanning and copying, at 20 seconds for a black-and-white copy, 25 seconds for a colour copy and 20 seconds for a 300dpi full colour scan. Colours in the copy were slightly flatter than those in the original, but fine for office purposes, while scans are detailed and colour accurate to the eye.
The final big question here is running costs. A set of 303XL black and colour cartridges will run for approximately 600 black and white pages and 415 colour pages and cost you roughly £51.66 ex VAT, putting the price per print at 8.61 per black and white page and 12.45p per colour page. That’s more than the Pixma TS8350 and a lot more than the bottle-fed Epson ET-5880. However, with HP+ and Instant Ink it gets more economical, not least because you get 9 months of Instant Ink included. You could opt for 100 pages per month for £4.49 per month or 300 pages for £9.99, and you’d see the price per page drop to 4.49p or 3.33p respectively, for either black and white or colour pages. HP’s pestering to subscribe during and even after setup is annoying, but it actually has a point.
There’s a lot to like about the Envy Inspire 7224e. It’s fast enough and print quality is great for a printer at this price point, whether you’re talking about text and business graphics or printing photos. Rivals are faster or cheaper to run, but providing you’re happy with the HP+ subscription model, it’s a rock solid choice for home office use.
HP Envy Inspire 7224e specifications
4,800 x 1,200dpi A4 inkjet MFP, 1,200 x 1,200dpi flatbed A4 scanner
Up to 15/10ppm mono/colour
6.75cm LED TFT touchscreen
125-sheet input tray, 15-sheet photo tray
Recommended monthly duty cycle
460 x 511 x 190.5mm
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