DESIGN & BUILD
The drivers are easy to install. The software offers to have the printer shut down automatically after two hours of inactivity—a good idea for absent-minded users like myself.
On the last Deskjet we reviewed, one of our readers asked us about the "several hundred megabytes of useless software" they found on the PC, and whether or not HP had gotten rid of it. The answer is no. A number of applications are automatically installed when you set up the printer, such as the mysterious 9 MB "product improvement" programme that appears out of nowhere.
As an entry-level device, the Deskjet 2540 does not do duplex (double-sided prints) and doesn't have a touchscreen. This small (42 x 51 x 25 cm), lightweight (3 kg) printer doesn't have a paper tray, either. All pages to be printed on have to be inserted into the 60-sheet feeder at the top of the machine.
Actually, all of the wireless functions are a cinch. There's a printable "how-to" page that gives a step-by-step explanation of how to print remotely. All you have to do is find the 2540 All-in-One's wireless network on your smartphone or tablet, enter the password and hit print.
With the HP ePrint app installed on your smartphone or tablet, the Deskjet 2540 automatically finds any photos or files that are stored on the device, e-mail accounts and cloud services (Box, Dropbox, Evernote, Google Drive). But don't worry, it won't access your content until you give it the logins and passwords. Once you find the file you want to print, you just hit "print".
To access the ink cartridges, you open the front panel and they're right there. The cartridges come right out; they're easy to remove and replace.
As you can expect at this price level, the Deskjet 2540 isn't a fast printer. It has the same engine, process and speeds as the Deskjet 3055A: 6 pages per minute (ppm) for colour documents and 9 ppm in B&W. The similarly priced Canon Pixma MG4250 prints 9 ppm in colour and 5 ppm in B&W (Canon's speeds are typically slower due to ink that takes longer to dry) and the Epson Stylus SX440W prints 4 ppm and 8 ppm, respectively.
Print speed in ppm
Using the same competing models mentioned above, the Canon MG4250 takes 1 minute and 4 seconds per 10 x 15 cm colour print and 2 minutes and 30 seconds per A4 print, while the Epson SX440W is the slowest, with 2 minutes per 10 x 15 cm and almost 5 minutes(!) for A4 colour photos.
The 2540 All-in-One makes okay prints for a two-cartridge entry-level printer. But, of course, it could never compare to laser. On our standard test image below, which we enlarge three times to bring out the detail, you can easily make out the individual ink droplets and see the lack of precision in the yellow legend. On laser printers the green background looks cleaner and less granular, and the legend comes out much more precise and finely detailed.
SCAN & COPY
The scanner makes loud fan noise every time you scan a document, but it's easy to use and includes a number of settings, such as resolution and size, depending what type of document you're scanning. It takes 28 seconds to scan an A4 document and 19 seconds to scan in 10x 15 cm. The brightness and contrast are adjustable during the scan preview. Rotate and cropping are also possible prior to saving.
You can't send scanned documents onto a smartphone or tablet in ePrint, but the scan-to-mail feature allows you to bypass that by sending the document to your e-mail account, which you can then access on your mobile device.
The HP Deskjet 2540 takes a long time to spit out colour documents: 44 seconds for colour, 27 seconds for B&W. These are fairly common speeds for this price range, but they're far behind more advanced machines like the Canon Pixma MG5350 (13 seconds in colour, 11 seconds in B&W).
POWER USE & NOISE
The Deskjet 2540 consumes an especially low amount of power: only 7 W while running and 2 W on standby. Most printers nowadays go below 1 W on standby, but 7 W during printing is excellent. This makes for an annual consumption of 1.7 kW per year (1,000 pages). Unfortunately, it's a noisy printer that produces up to 55 dB while printing (printers are considered "quiet" when they make less than 50 dB).
COST PER PAGE
The cheapest cost per page we could find for the Deskjet 3055A was 9 pence using high-yield ink cartridges. That's good, but it's still more costly than the HP Officejet Pro X576dw (5.3p) and the Canon Pixma MG6350 (7.8p). Also, the yield (480 pages in B&W and 330 pages in colour) is a little low for "high-yield" cartridges.