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HP Photosmart eStation review

Verdict

Fast, high-quality prints and great design, but the gimmicky tablet joins the ranks of Android let-downs

Review Date: 7 Jan 2011

Reviewed By: David Bayon

Price when reviewed: £316 (£379 inc VAT)

Buy it now for: £332
(see more store prices)

Overall Rating
4 stars out of 6

Features & Design
4 stars out of 6

Value for Money
2 stars out of 6

Performance
5 stars out of 6

Like it or not, tablets are taking over right now, with even high-street clothing retailers jumping onto (and in Next’s case falling off) the bandwagon. Now we have a new odd couple: the HP Photosmart eStation is a hybrid of printer and tablet.

If that sounds an odd mix, the photo above shows far better than words how the two combine. It’s very much a living-room printer, following the example set by the HP Envy 100. So the glossy black body is flat, angular and designed to blend in, and although it’s a little fat compared to its sleek sibling, it’s surprisingly stylish.

The design is sensible too, with a 125-sheet paper tray sitting at the base – accessible both by lifting off the output tray and by opening an inch-high flap on the front – and a 7 x 5in photo tray on top with a useful transparent cover. There’s a duplex module as standard, and the rear has a single USB 2 port, although unlike some printers you don’t need it to set up the Wi-Fi connection.

HP Photosmart eStation

But your eyes most likely aren’t on the printer itself. Indeed, it’s hard to look at anything else when there’s a 7in Android 2.1 tablet sitting proudly on top, and as you’d expect it acts as the interface for pretty much every task you carry out on the eStation. It’s your scan controller, your copy interface and – as both the printer and the tablet have their own 802.11n connections – potentially much more besides. HP has even blessed it with a silly name: the Zeen.

The Zeen has a proprietary connector, a power jack and a mini-USB port on the bottom to slot into its dock, while the side has an SD card slot and headphone jack and the top has volume controls. It’s functional rather than sexy, but that’s the compromise a hybrid must make.

Leaving it docked to begin with, we ran our print, scan and copy tests to see if the eStation printer gets the fundamentals right. It has the usual four CMYK cartridges, along with an extra photo black for fine detail in your snaps, and our 6 x 4in and A4 test photos made a strong start: a little speckled, but with good contrast and accurate colours. Text was bold and thick, and charts and plain paper images were mottled but generally accurate and clean. At normal quality we measured little difference between mono (6.5ppm) and colour (5.5ppm) speeds, and a 6 x 4in photo at best quality took 1min 2secs, which is fast for documents and above average for photos.

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User comments

Utterly pointless

HP would be better focusing on some more basic user requirements such as Direct Printing to CD/DVD. Canon and Epson have had this for years and I won't buy an HP all the while they don't have this feature.

By mpdouglas on 7 Jan 2011

Hang on

So HP, that company that bought Palm saying they were going to use it in printers has decided to go for Android instead?

Why not make a little Palm OS tablet with integrated marketplace instead?

By JStairmand on 10 Jan 2011

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