HP Photosmart eStation review
Fast, high-quality prints and great design, but the gimmicky tablet joins the ranks of Android let-downs
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.
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.
|Resolution printer final||9600 x 2400dpi|
|Integrated TFT screen?||yes|
|Rated/quoted print speed||33PPM|
|Maximum paper size||A4|
|Cost per A4 mono page||2.3p|
|Cost per A4 colour page||7.7p|
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 rated mono speed||33cpm|
|6x4in photo print time||1min 2s|
|A4 photo print time||2min 48s|
|Mono print speed (measured)||6.5ppm|
|Colour print speed||5.5ppm|
|Input tray capacity||125 sheets|
|Output tray capacity||50 sheets|
|SD card reader||yes|
|Compact Flash reader||no|
|Memory Stick reader||no|
|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|