HP Photosmart eStation review

7 Jan 2011

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

Price when reviewed 
379
4

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.

Details

Price ex VAT £316
Price inc VAT £379
Performance 5
Features & Design 4
Value for Money 2

Basic Specifications

Colour? yes
Resolution printer final 9600 x 2400dpi
Integrated TFT screen? yes
Rated/quoted print speed 33PPM
Maximum paper size A4
Duplex function yes

Running costs

Cost per A4 mono page 2.3p
Cost per A4 colour page 7.7p
Inkjet technology Thermal

Power and noise

Peak noise level 53.0dB(A)
Dimensions 449 x 457 x 247mm (WDH)
Peak power consumption 28W
Idle power consumption 7W

Copier Specification

Copier rated mono speed 33cpm
Fax? yes

Performance tests

6x4in photo print time 1min 2s
A4 photo print time 2min 48s
Mono print speed (measured) 6.5ppm
Colour print speed 5.5ppm

Media Handling

Borderless printing? yes
CD/DVD printing? no
Input tray capacity 125 sheets
Output tray capacity 50 sheets

Connectivity

USB connection? yes
Ethernet connection? no
Bluetooth connection? no

Flash media

SD card reader yes
Compact Flash reader no
Memory Stick reader no
xD-card reader no

OS Support

Operating system Windows 7 supported? yes
Operating system Windows Vista supported? yes
Operating system Windows XP supported? yes
Operating system Windows 2000 supported? no
Operating system Windows 98SE supported? no
Other operating system support Mac OS X 10.5 or 10.6
Software supplied HP Photo Creations