HP Envy 4500 Review – Remastering the Roots of Inkjet

HP Envy 4500 e-All-in-One Printer

The HP Envy 4500 ink jet printer is the best example of the kind of device that is certainly capable of many and yet not particularly amazing at any. However, coming from a long line of all-in-ones, the Envy 4500 is one of the very first to have come into existence and bring high versatility into an affordable and relatively small package.

The entire idea that was placed behind the Envy printer series was to design a printer that would be capable of handling anything you ever need for it to do without skimping on the way it looks. In other words, the kind of printer which is made for home use, designed to go well with the surroundings of any of your rooms thanks to its low profile build.

One would believe that with all the benefits of owning a low profile printer that can do basically anything and is far from being pricey far exceed any cons that the HP Envy 4500 may come with should certainly give the printer a much closer look before making a purchase. There is a fairly good reason for which this printer should not be taken for granted in some scenarios you may be thinking of putting it at work in.

Pros:

  • Highly affordable
  • Capable and versatile
  • Both wireless and USB connectivity
  • Duplex printing
  • Cheap black cartridges
  • XL cartridges available

Cons:

  • Photo printing is not the greatest
  • Color cartridges easily expended and don’t even come separately per color
  • Slow
  • Just meant for casual use, and not office or small businesses

HP Envy 4500 Design

HP Envy 4500 Design

Aesthetically, this HP Envy printer is by far one of the most pleasing units you’ve seen so far – and that is thanks to a number of design decisions and even the mere purpose that HP gave this device. As I’ve mentioned in the overview above, the HP Envy 4500 is meant to be discreet and easy to place anywhere in your home. It’s a lot smaller than any office printer you may have ever seen and can inconspicuously fit in any room you may want to place it in. Without the paper tray opened up, the Envy 4500 occupies even less space and resembles a plain black box.

Featuring either matte black surfaces or the glassy finish on its front portion where you’ll find the control panel and dedicated, direct control button, the HP Envy 4500 is a much better alternative to the light-colored alternatives. It measures 390 x 445 x 608 mm, making it small in overall size but a little on the wide side. It’s also wise to take into account the fact that it weighs 5.5 kilograms (around 12 pounds) before you decide where to place it.

However, in comparison to its younger brothers, namely the HP Envy 5660 and HP Envy 7640, it’s probably the sleekest and most definitely the smallest example of their all-in-one printers. The top is where you’ll find the scanner system, naturally. However, look a little lower and you’ll notice that the entire scanner glass surface can open up to reveal the interior of the device. This is where you’ll find both of the cartridges, making it a breeze whenever you have to change them, as well as give you an easy to access method of fixing most paper jams, if they ever occur; even if they are unlikely.

There is a rather upsetting thing about the color cartridge, while we’re at it, that I have to admit takes off a few points of the HP Envy 4500. Sadly, you don’t get separate magenta, yellow and cyan cartridges, and instead have to rely on just one for all of your colors. That being said, if you ever require to print a red-centric series of photos for example and you run out of the necessary ink but you’re still halfway through the yellow and cyan, you’d have to change the entire color cartridge altogether, which is an absolute waste.

HP Envy 4500 Cartridge

HP Envy 4500 Design – Control Panel & Buttons

The entire front-facing control panel area is particularly simplistically designed and doesn’t give you that many buttons to get lost and confused in. Featuring a 50mm LCD display, you will be able to control most of your printer’s abilities straight from it. The monochrome screen makes it easy for you to navigate through the menus, though it doesn’t make use of touchscreen capabilities and you’ll have to navigate using the arrow buttons on its immediate right hand side. Similarly, it’s not possible to view thumbnails of photos you wish to print.

HP Envy 4500 Control Panel & Controls

The menu itself is a succinct hub of controls and useful sources of information. You can select through the type of functions you want the HP Envy 4500 to perform, check onto the status of your printer as well as do things such as verify the current ink levels. That way you’ll never be unpleasantly surprised by an unfortunate lack of ink when it is most needed.

Most of the buttons you’ll find on the printer’s front panel are somewhat related to navigation of the on-screen control panel: Home, Back, Up, Down arrows and OK. You’ll find the dedicated power button on the left end of the front panel and a secondary row of buttons a little further to the right. The three located here are – from top to bottom – the wireless function, the web printer option as well as a help or troubleshoot button.

HP Envy 4500 Design – Ports

In terms of ports, the HP Envy 4500 remains just as minimal as its design choice. Considering the very purpose the printer was originally designed for and the belief that you won’t be hooking up 5 computers to it alone, you will only be getting an USB 2.0 port, which you can find on the rear side of the printer. Naturally, you will also find the power port there as well, on the bottom right side. There is no Ethernet port available.

HP Envy 4500 Design – Paper tray

HP Envy 4500 Paper Tray

Seeing the way the HP Envy 4500 is constructed to begin with, you will find both the designated paper tray and output tray alike as soon as you pull down the door. The paper tray has a maximum capacity of 100 sheets of paper which doesn’t rate very well; then again, the output tray is limited at 30 pages so this ends up being a little self-defeating in the very end. All of this does, however, comes across as quite natural for a printer that isn’t made for office or small business use.

Even then, the paper tray isn’t made to store extra paper in the printer whenever you don’t need it. The printer door can’t close if you load paper in, meaning that more often than not it will force you to load paper when you actually need to print something out rather than let it stay in. In more than just one situation this may turn out to be a bit of a hindrance.

The paper tray is, however, adjustable, giving you a perfect fit for any size paper or envelope you wish to choose, while making sure you keep it centered.

HP Envy 4500 Features

Considering that the HP Envy 4500 is an e-all-in-one printer, it can literally handle pretty much everything you set it up to. The inkjet cartridge does both black and white and colored printing, and the Envy is able to handle photo copying and scanning alike, while also doing a great job when it comes to photo printing – that is, as long as your cartridge lasts you at least.

HP Envy 4500 Printing

HP Envy 4500 Features

Given its status as an inkjet printer, the speed rates that the HP Envy 4500 seems to perform at are incredibly good, especially when it comes to monochrome printing. The printer can yield you about 9 pages per minute in black and white and even about 5 pages when printing in color; possible to slow down a fair bit when trying to print out full scale photographs for example. You can make it faster and even reduce ink consumption by printing in draft mode, but that will have a noticeable impact on quality.

Thankfully, the printer has duplex printing capabilities, meaning that printing on both sides of the paper is ridiculously easy to do. Not only that but the Envy 4500 seems to actually be set to duplex printing by default so no extra setting up is even required – unless you wish to specifically set it to single side printing. As a downside, however, there is no automatic document feeder.

Even though it’s not necessarily only related to printing alone, a detail worth mentioning is the HP Envy 4500 different cartridge capacities that it comes with. You can either opt for a standard cartridge or an ‘XL’ high-yield one; the standard ones are rated to yield up to 180 monochrome pages and 150 color pages per charge, while the XL ones can go up to 455 black & white and 310 color pages.

This gives you the option to pick whatever is more suitable to your printing habits. And because inkjet cartridges are fairly cheap ($15/$21 for standard and $30/$32 for high-yield), the HP Envy 4500 once again comes out to be a very affordable printer to have in your home, on more than one level.

And while we’re at it, it’s also great to know that HP is offering a special plan called “Instant Ink” for the Envy 4500 and few other printers as well that will automatically detect when your machine is running low and mails out a new one for you. This, however, comes for a monthly subscription; on the bright side, you can choose your preferred price plan for the amount of HP Envy 4500 ink you require.

HP Envy 4500 Scanning & Copying

HP Envy 4500 Scanning Feature

One of the greatest parts of the HP Envy 4500 wireless printer is that it is capable of handling other functions such as scanning or copying directly off of its control panel, without you needing to move back and forth between the device and your computer. The scanning function will allow you to choose your preferred type of file before proceeding for example, giving you .jpeg or .pdf as viable options.

On the other hand, however, scanning speeds did not seem to be particularly fast, especially when trying it out on very detailed photos for example. At an optical resolution of 1,200 x 2,400, I’m not 100% sure that 2 minute long scans are very much excusable. Then again, your normal document page scan shouldn’t take longer than about 20 seconds, which is pretty much standard.

In the case of copying, speed once again proves to not be the strongest point of the HP 4500 printer. At 25 seconds for a single A4 monochrome copy and nearly 40 seconds for a color copy, things aren’t looking too great if you have to get things done and you’re in a rush.

HP Envy 4500 Copying Feature

Lastly, seeing that the printer is mostly oriented towards home use, it was not built to handle faxing. You can, however, find that particular feature on its younger yet larger scale brother, the HP Envy 7640.

HP Envy 4500 Connectivity – Wireless vs. USB

As I’ve mentioned a few sections up, the HP 4500 Envy is capable of multiple ways of keeping your devices connected to it in order to make a quick job whenever you need it. That consists of a wireless connectivity as well as the default USB.

HP Envy 4500 Connecting to Wi-Fi

While you can only have a device connected to the printer via USB, given its sole 2.0 port, the wireless printing offers a lot more versatility and availability alike. As soon as your printer is connected to your local wireless network, you’ll be able to detect it immediately and send all the wanted documents or photos to it directly, without going through all the hassle of physically connecting it.

HP Envy 4500 Setup & Software

The setup process is as painless as you can expect. While the HP Envy wireless printer does come with a physical copy of the driver needed which afterwards will most likely require an update, you can easily download the latest software build right away. And that is, in case your operating system doesn’t automatically do it for you right away.

HP Envy 4500 Software Customization

Once you successfully manage to get through the advertising and offers that the wizard is likely to take you through, you can do a fair amount of customization to your printing process for example by making use of the dedicated software. Nevertheless, the printer software will make necessary modifications to its internal settings whenever you select a specific type of paper you wish to use for example. Similarly, you get to choose out of 3 levels of printing quality, a borderless printing option for photos as well as the possibility to create user profile-based sets of settings.

HP Envy 4500 Verdict

To wrap up everything that we learned about the HP Envy 4500, there are some clear aspects in which this printer shines and some where it is downright ghastly. Its low profile, small-sized yet not overly professional build makes it one of the greatest choices you can hope for if you’re simply looking for an occasional printer to have in your home that won’t tax you much on ink and maintenance. If all you expect to do with it is print out necessary household documents and the occasional color necessity.

In an office scenario, however, the HP Envy 4500 is not likely to make the cut. Its very small cartridge capacity, speed, lack of fax capabilities and automatic document feeding or even things such as the very small paper tray it offers are very much counter-productive, even for small businesses.

The HP Envy 4500 comes at the prices between $79.99 and $99.99, depending on the retailer you choose. It is not, however, still sold by HP itself so if you’re considering purchasing it, you will have to opt for third party sources instead.

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Christopher Hall completed his studies at the California Institute of Technology, Caltech, with a degree in Engineering and Applied Science. That was three years ago. At present he is working as a Computation and Neural Systems engineer in Ontario. He used to write tech reviews and overviews for several small online publications before he joined the ArgyllFreePress team. Christopher is always scouring the internet for fresh tech news and anything related to gadgets, smart-phones, tablets and laptops.