HP's Envy brand is mainly known for its sleek, aluminium-clad premium laptops, but now it's branching out. With the Envy 100, HP wants to inject an unlikely shot of glamour into the world of printing, scanning and copying.
It's rare for a multifunction device to stir our loins, but this squat block of patterned glass, gloss black and smooth contours gives it a good go. Brush the touch-sensitive power button and it glides into life: the front panel swivels upward and a 3.5in touchscreen takes centre-stage. There's a slight delay after each dab of a finger, but beyond that it makes for a luxurious experience, with a simple interface and access to a variety of web-enabled applications.
With the choice of traditional USB or 802.11n Wi-Fi you can print out travel guides, colouring sheets, posters and tailored print-outs of web blogs and news sites, all without even turning on your PC. The same applies to the direct USB port and memory card slot hidden behind a flap on the Envy 100's front edge. It also supports HP's ePrint service, for printing when away from home.
Squeezing all the features of an all-in-one into such a compact chassis does have its downsides. The lone paper tray is small, holding just 80 sheets at full capacity. And at this price we'd hoped to find a five- or six-colour print engine, but HP has opted for black and a single tri-colour cartridge.
Draft quality prints are poor, but Normal gives crisp, bold text and strong colours. There's a slight lack of focus on fine text and a tendency to leave blocks of colour a little streaky, but it isn't bad at all. Photos, however, don't even come close to the vibrancy and sparkle of the A-Listed Canon Pixma MG6150; colours look muted and a little grainy, with none of the punch you'd expect from a consumer printer.
That's all the more disappointing since the Envy can't use speed as an excuse. With mono and colour print speeds of just 3.9ppm and 2.5ppm respectively, it lags way behind its far cheaper rivals. A 6 x 4in photo took 1min 51secs and a full A4 photo nearly five minutes, so patience is a necessary virtue. The only compensation is its discreet operation: it's one of the quietest all-in-ones we've tested.
Go back to that touchscreen for copies and scans, and it doesn't do much better. Whatever you task it with, the Envy 100 takes appreciably longer than the average all-in-one: five copies of a colour page took a lengthy 3mins 9secs, while scanning a 6 x 4in photo at 1200dpi took 2mins 14secs. Colour fidelity was noticeably reduced in our copied photograph, with over-saturated tones bleaching out subtle gradations. Our colour document failed to capture details on complex graphs, and text looked distinctly spidery.
Thus, those hoping for speed and quality to match the Envy 100's gorgeous looks are in for a letdown. Despite costing almost twice as much as Canon's Pixma MG6150, and at over 10p per colour page being even dearer to run, it simply can't compete. Whether that will put off punters remains to be seen. It will look superb anywhere in your home, won't disturb the peace while it prints and that's all many people are looking for.
This article originally appeared at pcpro.co.uk